I will distill the overall vibe of this year's Cubs Convention for you all after the ink has dried on this weekend's final Cub autograph. But in the meantime, here are some photos of the festivities from the Cubs Convention's opening ceremonies on Friday night.
I guess I expected to hear the deafening screams that had Wrigley registering on the Richter Scale last October to be in full effect on Friday night as the Cubs were introduced to adoring fans. However, the crowd was excited, but somewhat subdued -- possibly because you have to stand waiting for two hours just to get a seat to the opening event. Luckily, I got an incredible seat in the first row thanks to @crawlyscubs who saved me a spot right next to @WSDreaming_Cubs. (It's so nice to be able to put a face to a Twitter handle. When the Opening Ceremony finally got going Pat Hughes introduced his fellow broadcasters, the coaches, and the Cubs players former and current. The loudest cheers went to the triumphant return of Ryne Sandberg, the unveiling of Jason Heyward and John Lackey, and of course there was an eruption for Jake Arrieta and the handsome youngsters: Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, and Addison Russell.
The players bounded onto the runway, slapping high fives with adoring fans. Yet the exciting electricity of last year's convention opening remained unmatched. The big reveal of the event was that "Let's Go" will remain the Cubs slogan for the 2016 season, which was met with tepid indifference.
I left the main convention hall for the "Secret Signings," which were not particularly secret. Because after leaving the Opening Ceremony, I went straight to the autograph hall in the basement, where lines stretched outside the doors, hoping to get an Edgar Olmos autograph. I didn't even Olmos get one.
So, I walked around Vendor Alley for a bit, but I never bite on any merchandise until Sunday, when vendors are desperate not to have to put their wares back in the van so I went back up to the main ballroom where Ryan Dempster's talk show was just beginning.
Last year, I couldn't even get beyond the hall doors to see Dempster's show, but it was more accessible this year for some reason and I was able to catch interviews with Joe Maddon, Lackey and Jon Lester and, and Bryant, Schwarber and Rizzo. Dempster's show is pretty hilarious, especially the short comedic films he made to show between interviews. When the Cubs start their own TV network, I'm hopeful Ryan Dempster gets his own late talk show on the channel. It would probably outperform the major networks regionally. When asked about last year's Cubs team, Jon Lester remarked, "It was basically a party."
Speaking of parties, I got word that a bunch of Cubs bloggers and new media types were hanging over at Lizzie McNeill's. Another excellent opportunity to put faces to Twitter handles and toss back a few. So I left the crowded ballroom a bit early for the bar.
Lizzie's was a who's who of Cubs Twitter fame. Brett and Sahadev from Bleacher Nation, Evan Altman from Cubs Insider, Corey from Ivy Envy, and the guys from Wrigleyville Nation. Over beers we discussed Addison Russell becoming a doubles machine this year amongst other Cubs related topics.
The night did that thing where 11 p.m. magically becomes 1 a.m. and I grabbed an Uber home for a quick snooze in order to turn back around and cover the Ricketts Family Forum in less than an hour. Oh man!!! I better go! In the meantime you can use this thread for Convention discussion all day Saturday.