David Brown

What the Cubs lack in titles, they recover in winter conventions

David Brown
Big League Stew

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Winning the World Series for this first time in over 100 years might be troublesome for the Cubs, but they sure are the undisputed kings of the meet and greet.

No other major league team has convened a winter festival for fans as long — and probably as well — as the Chicago Cubs. The 25th Cubs Convention runs Friday through Sunday at a swanky hotel on Chicago's lakefront and Big League Stew will be there to poke around.

Conceived by former team president John McDonough (who now runs the Blackhawks), this event provides a spark to the hot stove in the final weeks before spring training. Harry Caray used to call it the "unoffical opening day." It gives fans a chance to rub elbows and get autographs from their idols and, perhaps most importantly, it gives them a platform from which to complain to management about what the Cubs are doing wrong.

That's why it take three days.

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Most of the players show up — notable exceptions this season being Alfonso Soriano(notes) and Aramis Ramirez(notes) — and the Cubs usually stack the list of old-timers, too: Ryne Sandberg, Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Lee Smith and Rick Sutcliffe are scheduled to appear.

Andre Dawson, freshly elected to the Hall of Fame, will be a big attraction. No word on whether official track will be kept of how many times he's asked about which cap he's wearing on his Cooperstown plaque.

The press conference-like seminars with management can also be awkwardly fun. Not just Lou Piniella and general manager Jim Hendry, but the new owners — the Ricketts Family — will get put on the hot seat. They can expect a lot of concern as to why the team probably is moving its spring training headquarters from Mesa, Ariz. to Naples, Fla. come next year.

And they might field a question or two about breaking the streak of 102 championship-less seasons. No one can expect what will happen at the Cubbie Inquisition!

Cubs fans, otherwise famously unlucky, don't know how good they have it with this convention. As George Costanza's dad experienced when the Yankees traded Jay Buhner, it can be very cathartic to have the owner available to hear your grievances.

Weekend passes are sold out, unless you want to also book a room (and people do this) at the Chicago Hilton and Towers — the official hotel of Dr. Richard Kimble and the One-Armed Man! Or, you could always try the secondary market.

Yes, they scalp tickets to the Cubs Convention.

Stay tuned to BLS and have your hot stove set afire!

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