The Cubs convention kicked off this evening with hordes of eager fans ready to get the festivities going. The party did not disappoint.
While I spent my day mulling through typical tourist affairs, the evening debuted with pomp and circumstance at Cubs Con. Cubs fans flocked to the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Chicago for the various displays, vendors and camaraderie – not to mention a few cold ones.
The opening ceremonies were packed and had a somewhat rehearsed feel to them, as any typical marketing venture would have for such a lucrative business. I won’t bore you with elaborate details, but will sum up the most valuable points:
- Tom Ricketts was first to speak, as expected. He greeted fans with open arms and seemed genuinely interested in being there while thanking the fans for their patience over the last 2 seasons. I have no opposition to posting 2 losing seasons in a row, but some of the drunker, more impulsive fans were iffy on Ricketts’ plea.
- Ricketts made it clear that the goal for this team was to become the best organization in the MLB. He and the front office staff have devised a 3 tier plan to make this goal a reality: 1) to win a world series 2) to have the players compete and train in the best, most cutting edge facilities and 3) to be a good neighbor to the City of Chicago and surrounding businesses and Wrigleyville residents. So far, objectives 2 and 3 have been well on point with plenty of success remaining, but objective number 1 remains at the top of the priority list.
- The opening ceremonies were laden with charming videos about the Wrigley 100th anniversary and various Cubs highlights. Again, more filler that was actually quite entertaining.
- The players, staff and alumni were introduced and given a royal welcoming by fans. This was by far the most exciting portion of the ceremonies, with Derek Lee, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Starlin Castro, Junior Lake, Mark Prior, and Cubs’ HOF-ers getting the most cheer and applause. The young women screaming for Rizzo was almost deafening.
- Of note, Kyuji Fujikawa looked humbled the entire time. He fascinates me….
- Post game drinks were had at Lizzie McNeill’s Irish Pub, who was nothing short of an amazing host. Having worked in bars for 6 years, I can assure you their staff are among the best. Be sure to give them a visit if you’re ever in Chicago.
- Tanaka was the main topic of the evening, with “la creme de la creme” of Cubs beat writers and bloggers in attendance. Bruce Miles, Sahadev Sharma, John Arguello, Brett Taylor, Justin “Jabsey” Jabs, and Harry Pavlidis (all must follows on twitter, by the way) among others were there and seemed to have a beat on the story. A lot of secrecy surrounded these select few and they seemed to know that they were on the cutting edge of Cubs news, often leaning in to each other’s ears and speaking in private. This did not take away from the environment at all, as all of these lads were friendly and a ton of fun to have a beer with.
- The Tanaka take: Anyone claiming to have more information than anyone else is lying, unless they’re sitting in on the discussion. Information is scarce and we’re all equally in the dark. However, it’s known that the Cubs are 100% ready to pull the trigger on a massive Tanaka deal after “scouting him to death”. To me, this would signal the end of the Cubs’ “rebuild” and bring in a new era of spending for the team. Think of it this way: The Cubs’ low payroll makes sense for now, but to commit 20% of your total payroll to one player without expanding said payroll doesn’t make any sense. Signing Tanaka still keeps the Cubs’ just under $100 million for 2014 if the rumors on his cost are true, which still leaves room for more expansion. If the Cubs’ land Tanaka, it’s a green light on being competitive in 2015, especially with the potential call ups of Kris Bryant and Javier Baez at the end of 2014. Many pieces have still yet to fall together, but hypothetically speaking, it could be a turning point.
That’s about all from day 1 of the Cubs Convention. Stay tuned for more as we dig in to the meat and potatoes of the festivities tomorrow morning.