The guys at Vine Line got me a ticket to this year's convention.
Because they're awesome.
In the past I always arrived late to that Saturday morning meeting with the GM and Manager, ended up standing in the back of the crowded ballroom getting pictures of the backs of Cub fan's heads.
I thought with Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Dale Sveum and Shiraz Rehman, I should finally be on time.
Instead of the Hilton on Michigan, it's at the Sheraton on the river this year.
Phones work here which is fabulous, but... new layout.
"Can you tell me where ballrooms 9, 10, and 11 are?" I ask the lady with the Cubs badge.
She points to the numbers above the doors in the lobby.
There are also little halls that run between the groups of ballrooms, and I walk down one of those.
I'm an hour early, and there are only about 50 people in here so I grab a seat 2 rows back, excusing myself to step past a number of fans in the row.
After 20 minutes, the Ricketts all walk in and they're talking to people which is cool.
But then suddenly Len Kasper jumps up onstage and introduces them.
What the hell?
I look at the program, it must be the Ricketts Family Forum.
I've been sitting in the wrong room for a half hour?
And now I... I can't just rudely walk out because I'm right up front.
But this is a question and answer thing only - no real speech from the Ricketts.
Question askers line up behind a mic, one of the first asked about the relationship between Chicago govt and the Cubs.
I listen to a couple more questions and then I actually say to the woman next to me, "Wellllllll, guess I'll go get in line now. And go ask my question. Now. To the Ricketts."
Every time I step over someone's legs in the row, I whisper, "S'cuse me. Gotta, you know, go ask my question."
Then I saunter to the back of the line and haul ass.
I'm such an idiot.
Okay so now it's onto the Theo thing.
I'm still actually early and get an even better seat than I had.
They're a really impressive group, Theo and Jed and Randy and Shiraz.
You end up with the feeling that no matter the room, they'd be the smartest guys there.
So there were lots of questions and I can't make "actual" quotes, but I took some notes and you'll get the gist.
The Dempster trade thing was a semantics error.
When Hoyer said Dempster was "in the office", that didn't mean actually in the same office with Hoyer. It meant Dempster was in the office (building) just in case they needed to discuss something quickly, Hoyer would summon him.
Hoyer also got a mild laugh talking about the "botched" trades, comparing it to buying a house.
Like if something goes wrong with the inspection or whatever, do you say you botched buying a house?
I kind of buy that.
Randy Bush identified Nick Struck as a pitcher he thought was on a faster track.
Theo spoke at length about the "Cubs Way", which I'd only ever thought of as a concept.
But it's apparently a couple hundred-page manual with everything from batting philosophy to how to act off the field that every player no matter the level gets to read and...live by.
Sveum grunted that he'd never gotten anything like it when he was playing.
(It's awesome when you've got Sveum and Epstein in the same room - if they starred in a 70's tv cop show, it would be called "Pinetar and Vorp".)
More Theo: the "mindset of a small market team with the resources of big market" thing - that they'll build the team and when the time is right will have the juice to go get the player(s) to put them over the top.
Somebody asked about the draft and said...
They talked about leaving Peoria for Kane County so that the players there can get used to Chicago and Chicago can get used to those young players.
Some other funny stuff from a guy "representing the senior citizens" who "don't have alot of time".
All in all, a pretty cool event.
And... the emotional bond being created between us and the new team, don't you think this is unique? Now?
When teams like the Dodgers are being put together overnight with money?
Once the Cubs are truly competitive, don't you think it'll feel more rewarding to have grown with them rather than buying them from Miami?
I know, we don't have any choice.
But if this makes any sense... it seems like more than most fans we'll get to root for our team rather than just our logo.
So...GROW you kids!
I almost forgot...
So I had my backpack on, which happens to have my sketchbook in it, and I happened to walk downstairs where the vendors and snacks were, and then I saw that Pat Hughes happened to be there.
I realized I had a painting of him in the sketchbook, so I asked for an autograph.
HOW COOL IS THAT?
I also bought his "Ron Santo Cubs Legend" cd (he signed that too).
Donna and Tim and Juan - it was great seeing you all!