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Cubs Convention preview: You didn't ask for it. But it's back!
And judging by ticket sales, nobody has even noticed
The offseason, compared to the locked out nonsense of last year, is flying by and this coming weekend marks the return of Sweatpantspalooza at the Sheraton Riverwalk, aka the Cubs Convention. You’ll be shocked to know that tickets are still available. And not just a few tickets. Most of them.
This thing used to sell out within hours of tickets going on sale. You can really feel the excitement, can’t you?
If you’ve never been, it’s something you should probably just keep avoiding. My dad and I went for years and the best parts were always the non-convention ones. Mostly it was drinking on Friday night with a bunch of Cubs old timers at Shitty O’Keas in the lobby of the Hilton and Towers. The rest of the event is a combination of the worst memorabilia show and work conference you’ve ever been to.
This year, our pals at the super successful Marquee Sports Network are going to broadcast more than 15 hours of “live and premiere programming around Cubs Convention, highlighted by Friday night coverage of Opening Ceremony and all Saturday sessions.”
I like how they don’t add a lowercase the to either Cubs Convention or Opening Ceremony. Makes it seem like Brick Tamland wrote the release.
But wait, did they say they were going to air “all” of Saturday’s exciting sessions? Help walk me over to my fainting couch while there’s still time!
They are going to be live from the Convention Friday, which we’re used to when NBC Sports Chicago would put our buddy Dave Kaplan on a lounge chair in the lobby and he’d interview Gene Oliver, Ronnie Woo Woo and Jody Davis for an hour then they’d have one camera set up in the ballroom for the big “opening ceremonies.”
But Marquee is blowing this out, gang.
Live from the 2023 Cubs Convention: Red Carpet Special (Friday, 5-6 PM): Join Cole Wright, Cliff Floyd, Taylor McGregor and Elise Menaker for live interviews from the red carpet outside the Opening Ceremony ballroom as Cubs players, coaches and alumni arrive for the opening night of Cubs Convention.
There’s an hour of our lives we’ll never get back. “Hey Tucker, who are you wearing?”
I’m sure that the great Miles Mastrobuoni will have an Obvious Shirt that just says: I AM AT CUBS CONVENTION.
Twenty bucks says they have a Clark in a tux for this part of the convention, too.
Live from the 2023 Cubs Convention (Friday, 6-10 PM): The Cubs Convention kicks off with the Opening Ceremony, Off the Mound with Ryan Dempster and exclusive interviews with Cubs players, coaches and alumni.
Oh, for fuck’s sake. This is the legacy of the last few years of the convention, the half-assed pretend talk show vanity project for Dempster that turned into an actual show on Marquee that nobody has ever watched. This four hour block can’t be all Dempster, though, right? The introductions of the Cubs and ex-Cubs by Hall of Famer Pat Hughes (that’s fun to write) and Tom Ricketts’ awkward speech will be part of this, too.
Then Dempster will get a couple hours to interview the usual gaggle of Ian Happ (“Do you have anything to plug…other than your hair?1"), Crane Kenney, and David Ross will no doubt be among the guests, and I'm sure Nico Hoerner and Dansby Swanson will be on together and we'll get about 147 references to the Cubs' "new daily double." Then Ryne Sandberg and Dernier will show up and challenge the guys to a rumble.
At the same time something called “Harry Carayoke” will be going at the Budweiser Chi Bar. Somehow every subsequent word in that sentence just kept getting worse.
I admire the Cubs’ ceaseless commitment to disparaging the memory of one of the greatest broadcasters in baseball history.
Live from the 2023 Cubs Convention (Saturday, 9 AM-5:30 PM): Live coverage from Saturday at the Cubs Convention, including all sessions, exclusive interviews and segments from Marquee Sports Network shows including Road to Wrigley, Icons of the Ivy and The Reporters. Visit Cubs.com/Convention for the latest event program.
Eight a half hours of…this? I suspect they’ll have a Marquee “talent” serving as the host of each of the player and/or coach panels and they’ll talk way too much.
Here are the Saturday sessions. Hold on to your butts.
The Ricketts Family Session
Fans will once again have the chance to boo the family’s pet TV project. Tom will explain that Jed’s “intelligent spending” actually just meant “you have this much money available…do not spend more than 40% of it,” Laura will get a pass because her brothers are all so awful, Todd will offer to file an appeal on one lucky fan’s property tax and Pete will bide his time waiting to be appointed to the open Nebraska senate seat by touting the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy he implemented as governor when a meat processing employee cut off a finger that fell somewhere in that pile of hamburger over there.
Baseball Operations Update
I have a hunch that the Cubs will schedule this session and the Ricketts’ session at the same time, with the hopes that fans will be more interested in yelling at Jed than yelling at the family. It might work. At least Carter will be there to sit and stare blankly into space while eating whatever’s left in his mayonnaise jar with his right index finger. The session should be an hour of fans screaming at these two clowns for not even bothering to try to sign Carlos Correa for half the years and half the dollars like the Twins did, but you watch, within three minutes it’ll just be fat guys in Ryan Theriot shirseys asking if David Bote or Nick Madrigal will play third base on opening day.
Ross and the Coaches
This is an interactive sessions where they’ll ask for a volunteer from the audience to fire new hitting coach Dustin Kelly. Normally, this is the session where fans grill the manager about decisions he made the year before, but since nobody paid that much attention last season, the only question Ross is likely to have to answer is when Matt Swarmer’s mom walks up to the microphone and demands to know, “Why did you leave my boy in to give up six homers in that game at Yankee Stadium…asshole?” Taylor McGregor will then run up and ask her if Matt’s dad is there so she can interview him.
Live recording of The Compound Podcast
Believe me, there’s nothing more interesting than watching a podcast be recorded. Someday I’ll sell tickets for people to come watch us record a Remember This Crap pod so you can see Mike Donohue drink five beers in an hour and accidentally sit on his cough button for ten minutes. And that will end up being fine because I’ll have also had five beers and only then realize that I forgot to hit record when we started.
On the Mound - featuring members of the Cubs pitching staff
This is actually just a chance for fans to sit and watch the Cubs pitchers recite their loyalty oath to the pitch lab. Then they’ll fire up the magic cameras for some youth baseball players, tweak their mechanics and schedule their Tommy John Disease surgeries for May.
Business Operations Update sponsored by Wintrust
An hour of Cubs President of Non-intelligent Spending Crane Kenney extolling the virtues of the crystal cat box aka the DraftKings Sportsbook the Cubs are slapping on to the side of their beloved Federal Landmark™2. Crane will insist that every penny business operations brings in goes straight to payroll, which is and always has been bullshit, and he’ll insist that he gave Jed enough money to sign every free agent on the market but Jed didn’t want to.
Kids Only Press Conference presented by Advocate Children’s Hospital
If you’re at the convention, this one is easy to find. It’s the room with the sign that says “you must not be taller than Nick Madrigal to attend this session” with Nick Madrigal standing next to it wondering if that means he can or can’t go in.
The Road to Wrigley with Cubs minor league prospects
Recent injury updates have dampened everyone’s excitement for this panel, because we though it was going to feature a wheelchair race between Brennen Davis, Alexander Canario and Ed Howard. But all three appear to be somewhat ambulatory now. In fact, the Cubs are so excited about Howard’s recovery that they released this video which shows him both standing up and walking!
Ed’s a good shit, and I hope for good things for him. But what stands out about that video is that we see him work out his uninjured hip and run on a zero gravity treadmill. So, why exactly did we need to make this video now?
Anyway, this session will be full of Prospect Perverts, which is why they had to move it to the only breakout room in the hotel that is more than 5,000 feet from an elementary school. You know this session will get extensive Marquee time, with Lance Brodzowski breathlessly touting every one of the Cubs minor leaguers. Does your favorite team have 10 or 12 future Hall of Famers in their minor league system? Could be!
Cubs Bingo presented by Budweiser
I can honestly say there is literally not enough Budweiser in the world to make me want to play whatever Cubs Bingo is. That’s only partially because now that I’m a grown up with a job who can buy my own beer, you couldn’t force me to ever drink Budweiser again.
Harry Carayoke at the Budweiser Chi Bar
Day two! They should put the bartenders on suicide watch right now.
You’ll also be able to watch the world premiere of a documentary on…Greg Maddux? Sammy Sosa? The 1998 Cubs? Augie Ojeda?
Oh, for fuck’s sake. We’re back to only being able to brag about the ballpark?
And how is this different than that awful self-aggrandizing piece of shit the Garbage Family That Owns The Cubs™ put out about how they “saved” Wrigley just 16 months ago?
Anyway here’s the “new” one.
Brick by Brick: The Story of Wrigley Field (Saturday, 5:30 PM; re-airs at 8 PM): Immediately following Cubs Convention coverage on Saturday, Marquee Sports Network Films presents its newest documentary, an hour-long feature narrated by actor and Cubs fan Bob Odenkirk on the history of the Friendly Confines, complete with interviews with Cubs alumni, ballpark employees and more.
Actually, can we just watch the first episode of this, instead?
Anyway, on one hand, this is exactly the kind of stuff Marquee should be showing. They should show eight and a half straight hours of a fan convention.
I just wish it was a better fan convention.
And a better network.
Why didn’t the Cubs sign Carlos Correa instead of the Twins? He was going to play third base for the Mets, he couldn’t have done that for the Cubs? After having 25 years and $665 million worth of contract offers pulled because of medical concerns, Correa went back to the team he played for last season, and the Twins only have to have to pay him for six years.
In 2014, Correa broke his ankle in the minor leagues and nine years later he still has the hardware holding it together. The concern the Giants and Mets have is that at some point the hardware will have to come out and that Carlos’ ankle could turn to pudding. On a 13 or 12 year deal that’s a huge issue. But he had to settle for a six year deal. Correa is only 28, and he’s a 6.0 WAR player. If he stays that way through his age 34 season he’ll have been worth at least $192 million, so even if he’s driving a scooter around the field for the last two years of his contract in Minnesota, he’s already paid for himself.
Jed talks about being flexible and ready to pounce on unexpected opportunities. And yet, the Cubs just sat this one out. They could have signed a $350 million player for 65 cents on the dollar and had him for fewer years than they have already committed to the far inferior Dansby Swanson. This was a chance to have the kind of impact offseason they’d been trying to convince us they really wanted to.
But hey, at least they signed Eric Hosmer.
Jed Hoyer’s amazing streak of DFA’ing players and getting them through waivers because they stink on ice is still in tact, but with a couple of dents. A few days ago he had to sell weird named bullpen mediocrity Erich Uelman to the Phillies to avoid losing him for nothing, and on Monday, the unkindest cut of all.
PJ Higgins, a player so good the Cubs’ AAA radio announcer kept insisting we add his Iowa and Chicago numbers together to show just what a dominant offensive force he was, cleared waivers, but has opted to become a free agent.
No more buzzing around Des Moines for PJ. No sir, he’s excited to find out what it’s like living in other exciting AAA metropoli like Norfolk or Reno or (dare to dream) Albuquerque. Higgins took a look at the quality catching ahead of him in the Cubs organization and decided there was no way he could outperform Fucker Barnyard or Yan Gomes. Probably the right decision.
That leaves the Cubs perilously thin though at journeyman minor league backstop.
Anybody got Yadi’s number?
You know what? Never mind, I’ll call him at the office.
John Hicks is only 33, I’m sure he’ll do fine when the Cubs have to call him up in April because Yan’s shoulder has fallen off.
That joke would actually qualify as the funniest one on the show.
No jury will ever convict you if you punch anyone in the head who says “Federal Landmark” unironically.