The 2014 Chicago Cubs Convention starts on Friday, January 17, and the Cubs have revealed the current list of attendees, as well as the schedule of events.
Among the guys expected to be active roster types to open the year, the scheduled attendees include: Jake Arrieta, Darwin Barney, Welington Castillo, Starlin Castro, Kyuji Fujikawa, Justin Grimm, Edwin Jackson, George Kottaras, Junior Lake, Donnie Murphy, Blake Parker, Brooks Raley, Anthony Rizzo, Hector Rondon, Justin Ruggiano, Chris Rusin, James Russell, Jeff Samardzija, Nate Schierholtz, Pedro Strop, Ryan Sweeney, Luis Valbuena, Carlos Villanueva, Jose Veras, Travis Wood, and Wesley Wright.
And, among the prospecty types, the scheduled attendees include: Arismendy Alcantara, Albert Almora, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, C.J. Edwards, Kyle Hendricks, Pierce Johnson, Eric Jokisch, Mike Olt, Neil Ramirez, Armando Rivero, Rubi Silva, Jorge Soler, Christian Villanueva and Arodys Vizcaino.
If you’re looking for early guesses on the guys who will be attending the Cubs’ development camp thing (if they’re doing it again this year for prospects who are close to the Majors – based on one of the events below, sounds like it’s happening), there’s your list. No huge surprises, and it’s a great group for fans to get to see.
As for the schedule, with some thoughts from me where appropriate …
Friday, Jan. 17
6-7 p.m. CT: Opening ceremony – if it’s like last year, there’s a pump-up video and then current and former Cubs enter to applause in a red carpet style thing (where the kids get to be right up front for high fives).
7-10 p.m.: The David Kaplan Show – Kaplan will probably have on some players and management.
7:15-8 p.m.: Autograph Hunt Game – From the Cubs.com description: “Study the map given out at the end of the Opening Ceremony and find the Cubs logos to start collecting. You never know who you’ll find, from favorite Cubs alumni to future Cubs stars.”
8-10 p.m.: A sneak peek at ’100 Years of Wrigley Field’ – Again, from Cubs.com: “The movie takes a look back at Wrigley’s history from 1914 to today through testimonials from former Cubs, celebrities and historians. This exclusive premiere will feature a memorable introduction.”
(Non-official event: I, and whatever other folks wish to hang out, will be at a nearby bar – probably Lizzie McNeil’s – for drinks and stories and general revelry at some point in the evening. More details as the date approaches.)
Saturday, Jan. 18
9-10 a.m.: Ricketts Family Forum – the Ricketts Family will discuss the Cubs, and take questions and answers. Always a must-attend.
10-11 a.m.: Meet the Cubs Baseball Management – And then sprint over to the next must-attend, because Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Randy Bush and Shiraz Rehman will do the same kind of panel.
10:30-11:30 a.m.: Jeopardy, “Wrigley Field 100″ – From the Cubs.com description: “Pat Hughes and Dave Otto will host the special edition. All clues will be based around the history of the balpark. Each team of players will choose a fan to participate with them.”
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Scouting & Player Development – A baseball nerd’s delight, featuring Jason McLeod, Jaron Madison, Joe Bohringer, and Matt Dorey.
12-1 p.m.: Meet the Rookie Development Program – A group of “top prospects” will talk about things and stuff. I might swoon.
12:45-1:45 p.m.: For Kids Only Press Conference – Kids will be the ones asking the questions, featuring Jake Arrieta, Darwin Barney, Anthony Rizzo, Nate Schierholtz and Travis Wood. Whatever you do, don’t train your five-year-old to ask Anthony Rizzo why he’s opposed to hitting in the two-hole or why Jake Arrieta strikes out so few batters despite having devastating stuff.
1:30-2:30 p.m.: Cubs Business Operations Update – The money panel, both figuratively and literally. This is the one that could bear some news, if there’s any to be borne. From the Cubs.com description: “Investing in the long term success of Cubs baseball requires continued growth from all areas of the organization. Hear directly from Cubs management on initiatives underway to grow the amount of resources available for baseball operations, improve the fan experience, and support the Wrigleyville community. Fans will receive updates on the efforts to restore and improve Wrigley Field, the future of Cubs television and radio partnerships and new business opportunities.”
2-3 p.m.: Not for Women Only – From the Cubs.com description: “WGN Radio’s Kathy O’Malley and Judy Markey join Russell, Samardzija, Strop and Sweeney in a question and answer session.”
3-4 p.m.: Welcome the New Skipper – The fans’ first real exposure to new manager Rick Renteria and his staff.
4-6 p.m.: WGN Radio’s Sports Central – Jim Memolo and Glen Kozlowski do a live broadcast.
4:30-5:30 p.m.: Cubs Family Feud – From the Cubs.com description: “Back for its second year with an updated structure is a Cubs version of the hit game show. One fan will be selected to participate with each team.”
6:30-7:30 p.m.: Celebrating 100 Years of Wrigley Field – From the Cubs.com description: “This season promises to be special as Cubs fans celebrate 100 years in Wrigley Field history. Public address announcer Andrew Belleson, scoreboard operator Rick Fuhs, historian Ed Hartig, radio play-by-play broadcaster Pat Hughes, television broadcaster Len Kasper and senior director of marketing Alison Miller will take part.”
8-10 p.m.: Cubs Bingo – Cubs bingo.
Sunday, Jan. 19
9-10 a.m.: 30-year Anniversary of the 1984 Team – Remembering the 1984 Cubs.
10:30-11:30 a.m.: Down on the Farm – Always a favorite. Jason McLeod and Jaron Madison will lead the way, with Justin Grimm and Blake Parker as the two players. Interesting choices. Parker will have a great perspective, having worked his way all the way up the chain. Grimm, on the other hand, just joined the organization in July in the Matt Garza trade.