19 January 2012

Midwesternist 2012 Cubs Convention Recap

Until this past weekend, I've never been lucky enough to attend a Cubs Convention. As someone who loves all things Chicago (except the Red Line) and all things baseball (Except the White Sox), I leapt at the chance to go this year.

(FACT: I did not actually leap into the air when offered tickets to the convention. I'm not one to jump much these days, bad knees and all.)

From what I was told, this year was a lot more tame than years past, mostly due to the fact that the Cubs have no good players to meet and get a picture/autograph from. Basically, when your new team President is the main attraction, you know a few down years are probably coming.

The people love Bingo, hate Samardzija
Friday night was kicked off with Cubs Bingo and most of the prizes included various flags that had actually flown over Wrigley Field during the season. There were several hundred people playing Bingo, and one of the highlights was hearing the crowd's tepid reaction to some of the prizes being given out. Audible boos were heard when we had to spend our time trying to win a "SAMMY" flag from the 1998 season or a Jeff Samardzija autographed baseball.

My favorite part of Cubs Con? You can drink EVERYWHERE! If you attend one, make sure to stock up on beer because you can walk around the entire Hilton with open cans and have a really great buzz going to keep you entertained while fighting through hordes of memorabilia dealers and hour long line waits.

After Cubs Bingo wrapped up, it was off to a WGN sportscast interviewing new Cubs manager Dale Sveum and the rest of the coaching staff.On the Excitement Scale, it rated above "Watching PBS while sober" but below "everything else on the planet". Luckily, it was short.

This kid died of boredom from the managerial roundtable.
Even if you aren't a Cubs fan or even a baseball fan, Cubs Con is a hell of a place to go people watching. At dinner after the sportscast, there were all types of people wearing all types of clothes that don't fit. And it was glorious. I'd say about 50% of the attendees were also old enough to remember the last Cubs World Series win too.  One of the regulars in our section was a guy that had an open sore on his forehead and no attempt at all was made to cover it, like Al Davis in the last few years of owning the Raiders.

And some of the things people wear at this event are truly breathtaking. I saw a 100% satin Cubs jersey. I saw a guy that wore nothing but Cubs pajama pants and a Cubs robe for 3 straight days. But the best part? I saw an INCREDIBLE amount of terrible jerseys.

In third place, we have...Terry Adams??

This was his second choice when they were sold out of Joe Borowski jerseys. Also, this could have actually been Terry Adams.
Second place goes to...Clark Griswold???

Wrong sport. Also, you're an idiot for even owning that.
First place for the absolute worst jersey at 2012 Cubs Con was...MATT KARCHNER!!!

I don't understand that one at all. Karchner was never a hot prospect on a Mark Prior level, had 0 success at the major league level, and wasn't a fan favorite like Augie Ojeda or Mickey Morandini. Why would anyone on Earth own this jersey? Unless it was one of Matt Karchner's family members, it's completely inexcusable (and even in that case, it's still pretty terrible).

BONUS PHOTO: Waiting for the Brown Line on the way home last night, this guy totally looked like he was trying to hump part of the train station. It doesn't come through in the picture as much as it did in real life, but trust me, this guy was taking the train to Pleasuretown.

While Friday is usually the appetizer for the convention, Saturday is the main event. That's when Chicago's hottest club is Convention. This place has everything: buffets, winos, old ladies that resemble boulders, a bored-out-of-his-mind Bill Buckner. And be careful to avoid getting "autograph blue-balls". That's that thing where you stand in line to get an autograph, only by the time you get to the front, it's a different player than the one you wanted.

That's what happened Saturday morning. I was not expecting this many people in line bright and early at 9 AM.

Up at the front table, Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson, two of the only bright spots in what is otherwise a black hole cesspool of a farm system. The good news: stand in one line, get two autographs. The bad news: They were only signing for 45 minutes and that gave me just enough time to get...halfway through the line. But that just meant that I was already pretty far up in line for whoever was next at the table. But when I found out that was Darwin Barney, I promptly left.

BONUS SLANDER: We got confirmation from a couple sources that on Friday night, the first night of the convention, Matt Garza skipped his advertised autograph/picture session and no explanation was given. Apparently he was at the convention for the Opening Ceremony immediately beforehand. When it came time for his autograph session to start, the people in line were told that he was running late. After making everyone wait another 45 minutes, it was announced that he wouldn't be appearing. Hopefully there was a good reason for him not showing up, otherwise that's pretty shitty of him to do.

Probably the most important thing I learned the entire weekend is that waiting in huge lines for autographs is for suckers. After failing on Rizzo/Jackson, we decided to hit the convention floor where all the other autograph lines and memorabilia dealers were crammed together. THIS is where the money was. Almost immediately after going down to the exhibition hall, we spotted Ryan Dempster just walking around. Boom, autograph. While I was coming back to our autograph hound sweet spot on the floor after buying some baseballs, I ran into Bill Buckner (who I only recognized from his awesome guest starring role on Curb Your Enthusiasm this past year). Boom, autograph. In fact, when Buckner sat down to sign more autographs for charity, he looked downright bored.

Next to Buckner, Jody Davis, Rollie Fingers, Fergie Jenkins ans Ms. Teen USA were all smiles and laughs. Maybe Buckner's just a sourpuss. Before I left to hit up the panel about recruiting from the Dominican Republic (mostly to see if Starlin Castro would show up like advertised, even with the rumors of sexual assault against him swirling (he was held out of the panel)), I talked about that night's Broncos/Patriots game with Buckner and Davis.

Buckner: "Should be a close game."
Davis: "Denver doesn't stand a chance."

Advantage: Jody Davis

Everyone but Buckner was having a great time. He probably bet on the broncos to win last weekend.
There were a lot more highlights from day 2, but I've already gone on for long enough, so I'll make them quick.

  • Kerry Wood, who had just agreed to a deal the night before, signed autographs for about two and a half hours even though he wasn't scheduled to even be at the convention.
  • Jeff Samardzija looks like more of a douche in person than on TV. Some guy went up to him when he was walking around and said "Hey Jeff, remember you saw me earlier today and I asked for an autograph and you said you'd get me later on because you were busy?" Snork's response: "I don't remember saying that." He still signed for the guy, but he didn't have to be a dick about it.
  • At one point, Randy Wells walked past us, but we just let him walk by. Hey, official MLB baseballs are about $15 a pop at these shows. You can't go having every random player sign them.
  • Same thing happened with Jeff Fassero. Why was he even there???
  • Shortest autograph line of any player the entire convention: Vance Law.
Also, there was a panel with all the newest Cubs, and about 70% of the time allotted was spent talking about how hot David DeJesus' wife is.

Chris Volstad, Travis Wood and Ian Stewart all hang on David Dejesus' every word about his wife.
Reed Johnson looks and dresses just like Daughtry. He signed autographs for EVERYONE.

This is as close to Theo as I could get before his bodyguards forcibly removed me.

Even blurry, he's more handsome than I will ever be.
This was the most bizarre autograph I found for sale the whole weekend.

I think he played SS for the '79 Cubs...
$10 for NEIFI! seems like a bit much, until you realize the plastic sleeve itself cost $7.


Ginger Russ said...

"I'm not one to jump much these days, bad knees and all"...wonder why that is?

Rich said...

5 years of war on the gridiron, ass.

The Hundley said...

So you DIDN'T get Vance Law's autograph? WHY?!?!?!

Jake said...

I second The Hundley's sentiment.

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