This weekend, my wife and I am attending the Cubs convention at the Sheraton Grand Chicago. My goal for this weekend? Take it all in, get a few autos, and have fun. Particularly, I'm looking to complete my collection of the 2016 Chicago Cubs World Championship autographs. We aren't staying at the Sheraton, but rather a 30 minute walk south.
We arrived at the convention around 12pm for registration on the lower level. We had our entry wristbands already, but went through registration to get a grab bag which included a schedule/program, a calendar, and some other minor Cubs Swag. There was a long line for $30 Cubs grab bags, and for getting into the autograph voucher line. There also weren't any sessions running until opening ceremonies that night, so not a "ton" going on.
Rather than wait in line for something that may not happen, I hit up most of the booths in the afternoon.
I am glad I did. We met with all the minor league affiliates: the Iowa Cubs, South Bend Cubs, Eugene Emeralds, and Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Everyone was super friendly. I registered for all their giveaways, so I'm expecting to win some free tickets, a free trip to Myrtle Beach, and a David Bote Boat Bobblehead. I found a Kris Bryant Iowa Cubs bobblehead for $15 (a steal!), a South Bend winter hat for $12, and some other pins for $5 each. Good prices. Eugene had their promo jerseys on sale, and I am very tempted to get their Grateful Dead jersey. But at $75... that's a lot for a shirt I'd wind up wearing... EVERYDAY.
We then went downstairs to all the main vendors. As typical, most stuff is expensive and can be found cheaper online, especially the official Cubs stuff. I did find a few steals at a few independent vendors. They included:
• Autographed cards of 5 -2016 Cubs and some other older fan favorites for $40
• 100 different lapel pins for $5 each or 8 pins for $20
• Autographed photos of recent Cubs. I got Chatwood and Trevor Cahill for $20.
At 4:00, we went upstairs and waited outside the ballroom for the opening ceremonies. We waited in line at 4, the doors opened at 4:30. The ceremony started at 6, but they were late and it started at 6:15. We got a decent place in line, and got a reasonable seat all the way on the right side. It was far from the stage, but was right by all the VIP box seats. I saw Jed Hoyer, Theo Epstein, David Ross, Ian Happ, Kyle Schwarber, and Jason Heyward all mingling and hanging out.
In a lot of that in between waiting time, I spent talking with fellow fans. I had a particularly good conversation with a season ticket holder, who told me this fantastic story about how once she found herself in this developing scenario where she met one Cubs player, then another, and another and so on. It was like a line of dominoes, but as if each domino was a catch lightning in a bottle type of situation.
Opening ceremony notes: It was very much ceremonial, with not a lot of hard hitting content. Tom Ricketts came up first to mostly cheers, and a few attention seekers looking to boo him as loud as they could. Then Wayne Messmer came up and sung the National Anthem. Pat Hughes came up and then introduced everyone off the program one by one: Front Office, Coaching staff, former Cubs, 2020 Cubs, and then HOF Cubs.
• Anthony Rizzo got the loudest cheers of the night.
• Miguel Montero got the loudest cheers of the former Cubs (HOF excluded). That was a pleasant surprise.
• Ryne Sandberg got the loudest Cheers of the HOF CUbs.
• Kris Bryant is sick. He looked shaky and sweaty, and did a very slow range of fist bumps with fans in the front. He looked very low energy. Clearly that rumor that he was getting traded this weekend was just a rumor.
• The loudest boos was when Tom Ricketts was talking about new Marquee Channel. He talked about some of what the team had done, and began talking about the future. Marquee was first on that list, and there were loud resounding boos. I was awkwardly clapping for it, heh. A bunch of people also yelled things you couldn't hear, but it sounded like they said the word "Comcast".
Overall, the ceremony was cool, but it was just a simple ceremony. Not much to draw from there.
After the opening ceremony, we kept our seats and stayed for Ryan Dempster's late night show "Off the Mound", a themed late night show where he comedically interviews Cubs personnel. I had my wife hold our seats while I ran downstairs and grabbed us sandwiches for dinner.
Ryan Dempster's late night show was alright. I'm not a fan of any late night comedy shows, so that whole genre is wasted on me. He had a few good digs at sign stealing, some of which were recently planned, but had a couple of videos that were shot at warmer times that just so happened to ironically line up with the disaster in Houston.
He interviewed the following groups of people:
• Tom and Laura RIcketts, who talked a lot about their history as Cubs Fans. They also shared an awkward story about their red toilet seat.
• Theo and Jed, who joked about the lack of moves. They said that usually the offseason is winding down by the convention, but this year they were just getting started,
• Reed Johnson, Ted Lilly, and Geovany Soto, who told a great story about how Reed punched Geo's sandwich and made him mad.
• Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, and Anthony RIzzo, who talked a bit about 2019's collapse and how they are looking to bounce back in the future.
Overall, a super fun day. I was thrilled to get some cool Cubs stuff, and enjoyed the festivities. Onward and upward to day 2!
I will be on site today wearing my personalized "Tracy 22" jersey. If you see me, feel free to say hey. I'm introverted and will be awkward for a few seconds, but will push through it.