Saturday, January 19, 2008

Santo Marte De Rosa de Assisi Convention





January usually marks a time of sporting fervor in the city of Chicago. Many others, among me, have taken to warm nights watching our beloved Bulls, Blackhawks, Bears, DePaul, or Illini games.

Unfortunately, the above mentioned teams have had little to no success in this Our Year of the Lord 2008.

Due to this oddity, I have lurched myself into Cubdom like never before.

On this 19th of January I took the leap of faith.

CUBS CONVENTION IT IS!!!!

The Cub convention did not get off to a stirring start for me. Upon leaving my place of residence, I found my Chevy Malibu's left side mirror smashed to smithereens. Apparently, some drunkard (maybe Keith Moreland) smashed my mirror to pieces. I was a bit disheartened. But not even sub zero weather would stop me from displaying my brand new 1987 Andre Dawson road jersey!

The first meeting of the day was the traditional "Meet Cubs Management" at 9 a.m. Apparently; Kaplan was sick and unable to emcee. I'm sure that if he was there, he would've found a way to skewer Aramis Ramirez, per usual. Needless to say, the absence for this viewer was a pleasant surprise.

Northwestern broadcaster Dave Eanet took time away from the SUCKFEST going on at Welsh-Ryan Arena to partake as emcee. You could almost see Eanet looking out amongst the chairs stating, "Dear Jesus! This room just outdrew the crowd for the Chicago State game!" Btw, Carmody fans, tickets still available. (Don't want to miss Texas Pan American on January 31st, and band 'Feel the Groove')

Eanet and Cory Provus did a fantastic job fielding questions, and keeping the majority of the stupidity out of the questioning. And that may have been the oddest occurrence of the day; out of the four separate seminars I went to, I'd say 90% of the comments were pretty solid. I was expecting some pretty stupid shit.

The panel consisted of Crane Kenney (Cape Cod look, Palo Alto personality), Jim Hendry, and Lou Piniella. Lou called Fukudome 'the guy from Japan', Crane Kenney actually sounded interested in baseball, and Jim Hendry seemed to have an exceptional mental agility.

Not that I was testing Hendry for the sort, but he just seemed on top of his game. Hendry and Lou keep pounding the fact that there will probably be two more moves before camp. Obviously, no names could be released.

One of my favorite parts of the morning session was Crane Kenney explaining to the CubDUMB portion of the audience, that the New York Mets made $400 million off of their last naming rights deal with Citibank. The silence in the room from the stupids was priceless. "Boy, that's a lot of money!" No shit. I can't wait for Boeing Stadium at Wrigley Field. Cha. Ching.

Another oddity of the morning press conference was Crane Kenney's consistent chiming that Sam Zell DOES have the option of being partial owner of the Chicago Cubs AND the Chicago White Sox with NO EXPIRATION DATE. This seemed to stun most people in the room, including myself. Apparently, Kenney and baseball execs met a couple weeks ago to speak on the pending Tribune deal. Word is Zell has no intention of selling the club, nor his under 5% share in the White Sox. Apparently, this is legal. Kenney explained to us that one of Zell's partners was the one fixated on the Sox, not Zell. Mmm, okay. But isn't shareholding, shareholding? Or is there a certain percentage that Zell would have to be invested with the White Sox to make this a no-go? Maybe I just didn't read enough of the FANTASTIC WORK by 1060west.net over the previous year? I'll go with the ladder.

Away from the financial fracas, Jim Hendry and Lou Piniella played hero all night long. 85-77 was the work of magicians, and the fans let the two know of these successes repeatedly throughout the day.

You could see Hendry and Piniella's confidence as a complete 180 degree turn from last year. The rotation was so grandiose, the two stated with little hesitance that 'they are the team to beat this upcoming year'. It's always fun for Cubbie Blue to get a little bit of a swagger, ain't it?

The biggest mistake of my day was not taking a single pad of paper, or pen (as I'm sure you have noticed).

What followed after this staggering swagger fix, was the beginning of what many of my cohorts were warning me from the night before: Santo Marte de Rosa de Assisi Fever.

Apparently, unbeknownst to many of us at 1060west, Mark DeRosa won the 2007 N.L.Central for the Chicago Cubs. You would've thought from the comments during the Q and A, that Hendry was proposing to send DeRosa to Cuba for a box of cigars!

Jesus Christ, people! DeRosa only started 88 games at second, last season. He had 13 starts in RF, 5 starts at 1B, and even one start in LF. This doesn't even show the countless games he rotated to other positions after starting at second. Bringing in Brian Roberts is not going to end the Mark DeRosa experience.

I'm being serious people. You weren't there. DeRosa is apparently the #1 lovechild of the WGN-loving crowd. They must be going here for DeRosa's stats.

I love DeRosa as much as the next guy, but he can play more than second base. Click here for methods of cannonization. I would like Santo Marte De Roa de Assisi to be buried next to St. Retardus, the patron saint of believe bracelets.

I did go to the microphone on behalf of 1060west to question Hendry on the importance of keeping Jason Marquis as the number five starter. I wanted to ask him specifically, 'What do you value more; a guaranteed 30-35 starts a year guy, or somebody with the potential to move up in the rotation?' Sounds like an odd question, but I just wanted to see where they stood with the Biz Marquis. The man wasn't to be found all weekend, and was mentioned in numerous trade talks.

Unfortunately, time ran out and I was unable to deliver.

KATHY AND JUDY AND SEVEN HUNDRED SEXUALLY DEPRIVED WOMEN

To explain why, how, or what propelled me to remain in the Grand Ballroom for this waste of existence is beyond my comprehension. Oh, yeah, now it hit me. JIm Leo sucked me into this vortex of the universe by stating it was one of the more FUN convention highlights. Let me tell you this: If 'Jay Baller's Chest Hair History' was in Ballroom C, I would've gladly taken the ladder.

Kathy and Judy spent the time drooling over Matt Murton (married), Ryan Theriot (married), Mark DeRosa(married), Frank Sinatro!, (married and OLD), and Stevie Eyre (married, and wait, WTF???! Scott Eyre?!)

Questions varied from, 'What body part would you change the most about you?', to 'Where did you propose to your wife?'

The question I quickly asked myself was 'When the fuck am I going to get out of this room?' The answer was 'quickly.' Pat and I scurried out of the room to get to the coaching conference.

COACHING CONFERENCE

Gerald Perry's voice was akin to Ron Harper/Bob Love combination...if Harper and Love had been drinking since 6 a.m.

Seriously.

If the Cubs ever have Perry speak to the populace again, I would like an interpreter. The gist of Perry's ramblings went something like this:

Hannngne ovr duh wayul, plers like theriot or no soriano dey someone tole me wunts, uh, uh, hangenn,e, ayi, fassball, yousidufk, look for a zone, and, if, taken a ball, just, hann brainin bal..you, uh. You gotta hit it.

What? Good thing our hitting coach can't speak a discernable word of english. I don't want Theriot or Ramirez understanding one fucking word that retard is spewing.

The star of the show, once again, was ole Lou Piniella. There's just this odd confidence in the old fudger. It reminds me of some guy you'd want in your platoon if you went to war: someone who's slightly crazy, but impeccably brilliant; a major necessity during war time. I'm not sure that matters when it comes to baseball, but something to chew on nonetheless.

What did I learn from the exhibition? Not a damn thing.

CHICAGO CUBS STORY TELLING

I really put a lot of weight on this portion of the day, and to tell the truth, it was kind of underwhelming.

Rick Sutcliffe, Lee Smith, Ron Santo, and Ernie Banks each took apart in the festivities.

Sutcliffe retold the story of Maddux getting in trouble for beaning the Padres in retaliation for Dawson's beaning in '87. That was kind of cool. Lee Smith called former Boston manager Joe Morgan the stupidest person he worked for. Pretty funny. Outside of that, not the greatest thing.

My favorite portion of the storytelling came during Ron Santo's egg-timer story. After the Don Young debacle, Williams and Hundley played a trick on Santo, putting an egg timer in a box, and playing it for a time bomb. Santo fell for it, and tried to get the entire team to evacuate the clubhouse. Uproarious laughter, right? Who cares.

My favorite part of the stanza was when he had to admit the portion of the hate mail he received after making comments about Young. "What's that," you say? Santo isn't the saint he makes himself out to be? Damn truth. The guy ruined the SOB's career, and got off easy. I just wish the majority of CubDUMB would recognize that Santo was not the greatest man of all time.

60 Years of WGN and the Cubs

Jack Rosenberg, Bob Brenly, Len Kasper, and Bob Vorwald. By far, the best thing we saw all day.

I could listen to Rosenberg talk for about nine years. The hour began with a rebroadcast of Don Cardwell's final out in the 1960 no-hitter against the Cardinals. The video can be seen here at museum.tv. If you haven't seen this, you are not a fan.

Stories about Arne Harris, Jack Brickhouse, Harry Caray, or today's guys never gets old.

We were given a 15 minute preview of a 2 hour special that is scheduled to debut on WGN in March. All I can say is, 'wow'. Once again, WGN is going to outdo themselves, and create one of the must-haves for any Cub history nut. The footage they got on Santo, Banks, and Williams was off the hook.

I've never met Len Kasper in person. All I know, is that sitting in front of him, I could sense a total understanding of where we come from. Len hasn't been a lifelong Cub fan, but he gets it. I don't know what the fuck that means, but it means something. He knows there is a place for fans like us, or the 'W' flag waving fans, the 'believe bracelet' fans, the heckler fans, the old lady fans, etc. He seems to understand that their are so many more divisions to Cubdom than most people realize. I came away from this meeting having a much deeper respect.

Leaving the program, we ran into new Lasik eye surgery recoveree Tom Shearer. The former Channel 5 sports man was a pleasure. Shearer was actually just there as a fan, not on news. He asked us if this was our first convention, etc. Good guy. He did try to pick up my buddy's girl however. Just coz you got Lasik don't make you Touchdown Jesus, Tom!

In the end, we got to get close with Bill Madlock, Daryle Ward, Dave Otto, and Tom Shearer. Not a bad day. And, while waiting in line to speak with Cub management, I got grabbed on the ass by a 60 year old ex-principal who told me that "Judy Markee used to sit in on our Sex Education classes" at school.

Creeeeeeeepy.

Stay away strange Cub fan, stay away.

In the end, I had to stave him off with 5 bucks and a pack of naked Dave Martinez cards.

All in all, a good day. So, from here to Timbuktu, I say: 88-74 in '08!

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