Boy, was it packed for Saturday's sessions! I arrived at noon, thanks to a broken Red Line train and some technical difficulties trying to post early Saturday morning. I was later than I had hoped to be by an hour, but I arrived in time for the Joe Maddon and the coaches session. Unfortunately, there was one problem: I couldn't even get in the room. I did manage to squeeze into the back, but the doors of the ballroom were open and CBS 780 was broadcasting right behind me. I couldn't hear a thing. A few people grumbled audibly, one who said he was going to ask for a refund due to the lack of access to the seminars. The TV that was in the lobby was gone too, so if you weren't in that sweaty ballroom, you could probably monitor the panel better sitting at home. Which is not cool.
Personally, I think part of the problem was the fact that there are now two ballrooms used for kids activities exclusively, instead of one. Which crammed all the "adult" sessions into two rooms instead of three. The Ricketts said they were going to be more family oriented, and so that's exactly what they're doing. In fact, I think it's great! I'd much rather watch a bunch of kids play ball with Cubs players like C.J. Edwards and Pierce Johnson than to be packed into a room with a bunch of hot-breathed adults listening to players state the obvious. Stuff like "We play to win every day," and "The key to success is working hard." I didn't make it through a whole single session, mostly because at a point it became a bit repetitive and boring. And it was so darn hot in there!
A few anecdotes:
Jason Motte told a young man with a Cardinals fan girlfriend to dump her.
Tommy La Stella got a marriage proposal. To which he replied, "That's great, but I have a flight to catch at 6." At which point Miguel Montero chimed in and told him to change his flight. And then Jim Deshaies said, "It's a game of adjustments". It was pretty funny. Cracked the room up. Guess you had to be there.
Montero is a funny guy. Funny as in a little weird. He doesn't really like music. Which is just weird, and when asked about his milestones, said he didn't have any. Which is also weird. Especially for a ballplayer. He was asked about how he felt when he became a Cub, and he said he celebrated by getting kinda drunk. And that he found out on the internet. It's possible he just has an incredibly dry sense of humor. He is a catcher, after all.
The lights went out twice during the Cubs kids press conference.
A fan named Tyler Geiss, who I met this weekend, told me he saw some of the vendors had teams of people who went out into the convention to get player autographs only to return to the booth and immediately resell them. Kinda sketchy if you ask me. Especially because the players time is short and most of the autographs should go to kids
I met a group of guys who had Mike Olt, Jay Johnstone, Wayne Messmer, and me sign their beer cooler, now infamously known as the #mikeoltbeercooler. One of the guys was familiar with my sordid travels. I guess I'm kind of a big deal around here. Haha. Anyhow, it was a total honor, and they told me a pretty funny story about Jay Johnstone who was hanging out in the kids area after a couple of cocktails, giving unwanted advice to the kids in the batting cages. The beer cooler guys told me that the kids all had the look of "Daddy, why is this weird old man talking to me?" Funny stuff. But I love Jay Johnstone. Always did. Especially after his 1984 Fleer Umbrella hat baseball card.
Javier Baez, when asked how he was trying to improve his game in winter ball said, "Not striking out," which was met with applause and a little laughter. I don't think Baez expected that crowd response which was honest and also slightly jerkish. Baez, like me, has a sweet mohawk. I'm a fan.
Lee Smith closed a game of Family Feud when he answered correctly: "Chicago History Museum" when trying to name Chicago museums.
Just an observation: a lot of guys in their 50s and 60s look like Joe Maddon. I kept thinking that he was right next to me!
The line for season-ticket holders to get an Arismendy Alcantara autograph was ridiculously long. (see video below)
Well.. Saturday night's session was Bingo hosted by Wayne Messmer. Luckily, this guy Tom, who recognized me from my incessant selfie taking gave my girlfriend a pass for this evening.
But as I said last year. anyone can get in. There is virtually no security. So... come on down Sunday. I guarantee not one "care" will be given.
In the meantime... here are a few videos that I couldn't upload earlier because of the Sheraton's third world internet speeds.