This weekend, the Cubs hold their annual winter convention, a nice bridge for the lull that comes between the winter meetings and spring training. This offseason has been especially slow moving, so a few days to hang out with Cubs fans might be a nice reprieve.
If you're planning to attend, the festivities really kick off at 6:00 Friday night at the Sheraton Grand Hotel. This is generally a lot like a high school pep rally. The players, past and present, take center stage along with the coaching staff, and fans have the opportunity to see them up close in a way that is far less possible during the season.
Saturday is the best opportunity for interaction, as the team hosts panels throughout the morning that are a good time to ask questions and share with the team. As you can imagine, this public forum setting definitely involves some silly or strange questions, but that's part of the entertainment. From my experience, the kids forum was the most fun. They asked some really good questions of the players last year.
Sunday is always a little quieter, with more of a focus on the farm system. I did not attend on Sunday last year, but I will likely be there that day this year. On Saturday at noon, I'll be taking part in a Facebook Live interview with Victor Caratini that is hosted by the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. I will try and share the link here if you miss it Saturday.
From my experience, this can be a very crowded event, especially so last year, and getting autographs from players usually involves waiting in a very long line. It's wise to plan ahead and accept that you probably won't get to everything, especially the autograph lines.
Personally, I'll be there to work on a few stories for Sporting News, but I'll be at Lizzie McNeil's following the main festivities Friday night. Come say hi if you're around. Many of the beat writers come, along with bloggers like Brett Taylor and Evan Altman, as well as the guys from the Wrigleyville Nation podcast and other national writer types like Ryan Davis. Last year I had the chance to hang out with them along with a few other Twitter friends, and like I said on the podcast with Myles last week, this was my favorite part of the convention last year.