As Harry Caray used to say, the Cubs Convention is the unofficial opening day! Today, despite the snow in Chicago, the first sign of spring is here! It will be all Cubs all weekend long at the 27th annual Cubs Convention at the Chicago Hilton. Even though the team is expected to suffer its third straight losing season in 2012, there are plenty of reasons to attend this great event. The atmosphere at the annual fest is truly amazing.
Everything Cubs Blog will once again have updates from the Convention all weekend long. In case you're heading off the the Convention, or if you're just curious, let's run down the up-to-date full slate for the weekend one more time. Plus, if you're not attending, WGN Radio & CSN Chicago will have live coverage.
3:00 Convention exhibit halls open at the Hilton
3-7 Garry Meier Show broadcasted live from the Cubs Convention on WGN Radio
5:00-5:30 The Opening Ceremonies (on CSN)
The kick-off the the Convention is one of my favorite parts of the weekend each year. I'll have full details on this year's Opening Ceremony tonight, but it is very cool to see all of the Cubs players, former players, legends, broadcasters, coaches and staff be introduced to the fans. Pat Hughes will serve as the master of ceremonies once again this year. The ceremonies will be broadcasted live on Comcast Sports Net Chicago for the first time ever. David Kaplan will host and special guests include new Cubs outfielder David DeJesus.
6-6:45 Autograph Treasure Hunt
As fans exit the Opening Ceremonies, they receive a map that hints at the locations of various anonymous Cubs celebrities. Usually most of the big names do not partcipate in the treasure hunt, but it is still kind of fun to get a few random Cubs autographs.
7-8:30 Cubs Bingo
Each year Wayne Messmer hosts Cubs Bingo, a popular game in which fans can win some pretty cool prizes.
7-9 WGN Sports Night Live, also live on 720-AM
Fans receive their first chance to hear from Cubs staff directly during WGN Radio's annual broadcast from the Convention. The show will be hosted by David Kaplan, Brian Noonan and Andrea Darlas. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will be interviewed for the first 45 minutes, followed by Dale Sveum, Chris Bosio and Rudy Jaramillo from 8:00 to 8:30. Bob Brenly, Todd Holladsworth and Bill Madlock will round out the show from 8:30 to 9.
9-10am Behind the Scenes with Theo Epstein
New Cubs president Theo Epstein will spend a full hour being questioned by the fans during this session, which opens up a full day's worth. Len Kasper will serve as the host of the panel. Epstein is expected to talk about many of the decisions he is facing regarding the roster of the Chicago Cubs.
10-11 Meet Cubs Baseball Management
Dave Eanet of WGN Radio will be joined by general manager Jed Hoyer, assistant GM Randy Bush and manager Dale Sveum for this hour.
10:30-11:30 Player Development: From the Dominican Republic
Hear directly from the Cubs players as they talk about the organization's facilities. Jeff Samardzija, Welington Castillo and Starlin Castro will talk about winter ball, the Arizona Fall League, the minor leagues and Spring Training.
11-12 From the Field to the Booth
Color commentators and analysts who at one time played for the Cubs will share their experiences of make the transition from being a player to being a broadcaster. Bob Brenly of Cubs TV, Gary Matthews of Phillies TV, Todd Hollandsworth of CSN, Keith Moreland of Cubs Radio and Rick Sutcliffe of ESPN join host Dave Otto.
11:30-12:30 For Kids Only Press Conference
The youth of the Cubs faithful have the chance to talk to Cubs players. Believe it or not, kids come up with some entertaining questions. People of any age are welcome to attend. Darwin Barny, Tony Campana, David DeJesus, Todd Walker and Reed Johnson will all be on the panel.
Noon-1 Ron Santo: Beyond the Game
Ron Santo's election to Cooperstown during this hour long session. Santo's longtime partner Pat Hughes, wife Vicki, sons Ron Jr. and Jeff and teammates Randy Hundley, Glenn Beckert and Billy Williams will share their memories.
1-2 Coaches Den
The new Cubs coaching staff will be welcomed and heard from during this session. Hear how manager Dale Sveum, bench coach Jamie Quirk, pitching coach Chris Bosio, first base coach Dave McKay, hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo and bullpen coach Lester Strode feel about this year's team. Bob Brenly will host the segment.
1-2 Outside the Foul Lines
It's your chance to get personal with Cubs players. Garry Meier of WGN Radio will talk about a variety of topics with fan favorites Tony Campana, Ryan Dempster, Geovany Soto and Randy Wells.
2-3 Ricketts Family Forum
The Cubs owners host their annual Convention session. Tom, Todd, Lauren and Pete will all be on hand to discus the state of the organization.
2:30-3:30 When Super Fans Unite
WGN's Jonathan Brandmeier remembers 1984 with Bobby Dernier, Gary Mathews, Lee Smith and Keith Moreland.
2:30-3:30 The Scouting Formula
The new direction of the Cubs scouting department will be unveiled during this session. Jason McLeod, Oneri Fleita, Tim Wilken and Joe Bohringer will all partake.
3:30-4:30 Meet Cubs Business Management
Hear the front offices' plans away from the playing field. This session features Crane Kenney, Wally Hayward, Mike Lufrano, Carl Rice, Colin Faulkner, Alex Sugarman and Jahaan Blake.
4-6 Sports Central Live
Join another live WGN Radio broadcast and Jim Memolo and Glen Kozlowski bring you Sports Central. Here is the schedule of guests for the show.
4-4:30 David DeJesus, Ian Stewart, Travis Wood and Chris Volstad
4:30-5 Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger
5-5:30 Casey Coleman and James Russell
5:30-6 Mike Bielecki, Vance Law, Scott Sanderson and Dwight Smith
8-Midnight Rock'n Roll Revue
9-10 Down on the Farm
Fans will enjoy an inside look at the minor league system and the future of the Chicago Cubs. Oneri Fleita and Tim Wilken will update the progress of the system. Prospects Jeff Beliveau, Brett Jackson, Junior Lake, Matt Szczur and Josh Vitters will all be on hand.
10:30-11:30 The Father-Son Connection
The Cubs Convention will close out with an interesting Sunday morning session as fans hear what it is like to be part of a father-son baseball playing combo. Shawon Dunston, Shawon Dunston Jr., Bob Brenly, Michael Brenly, Keith Lockhart and Daniel Lockhart will all participate.
In case you missed our coverage leading up to this weekend...
Updated attendees/Caravan preview
Original list of attendees and schedule
Cubs Caravan Week Events
Early Cubs Convention Preview
"And away we go!"