What a weekend! The Bears are going to be Super Bowl Champions and the Cubs are going to be World Series Champions. Seriously folks, this years Cub Convention was a real treat, and there was a real feeling that this is for real. I can admit when I am wrong, and I was wrong about not making Lou Pinella my first choice to replace Dusty Baker. This guy said everything Cubs fans have been dying to hear. There was a lot of magic at the Chicago Hilton and I will be posting new entries thoughout this weekend about what I experienced. I thought that I would really quickly run down a few of the big story lines of the weekend.
#1-Soriano willing to play center
This came as a surprise to everyone, especially Lou. During a radion session with Dave Kaplan and Tommy Waddle for WGN’s Sport Central that he would like to give center field a try. That would be interesting to say the least, but it would be a short term solution for the outfield. That would allow Murton to play left and Jonesr to play right. Pinella had never discussed center with Soriano;
"I’ve been intrigued by that idea When we recruited Soriano, we didn’t mention center field. We mentioned the corners. When I tell a player something, that’s it. I don’t lie to players. I didn’t want to start changing the tune. I wanted to talk to him in spring training and see if it’s agreeable to him. Now that [Soriano] has mentioned it, it makes a lot of sense, with his athleticism, a real nice throwing arm, really good speed … it makes perfect sense."
Wait and see on this one
#2 Potshots at Dusty?
The only person that wasn’t showered with affection was Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothchild. He was booed more than once, which seemed to offend Lou. Lou asked the crowed if they though Jim Leyland was a smart manager, because Leyland wanted him to come to Detroit with him. He also said that Rothchild wasn’t to blame for the Cubs pitchers being injured. Than, Lou said,
"You can’t blame a pitching coach for that. You can’t blame a strength coach for that. You can blame a manager if he allows a guy to go out there and throw 100, 145 pitches consistently, and all of a sudden he breaks down, and that won’t happen."
Hendry also chimed in, adding that Rothchild wasn’t responsible "for who comes in in the seventh—that’s the manager’s call."
The next day Lou seemed to realize what he said and talked about all the respect he had for Dusty as a coach and a person.
Shhhhh Lou. You had us at blaming Dusty.
#3-The Return of Grace
The Grand Ballroom thundered at the return of a Cubs fan favorite Mark Grace. Although he did not attend the opening ceremonies, he was there on Saturday and was really entertaining. It was great to see Grace back with the Cubs, and I’m sure Cubs fans would love to see him back every year.
#4-Rapid Wight Loss Program
A lot of the Cubs came to the Convention in great shape. Kerry Wood, Ryan Dempster, and Scott Eyre alll have dropped at least 15 pounds. I don’t know why they were gaining so much weight last season, but I hope they keep in the best possible shape for the upcoming season.
#5-The Jeff Samardzija
When it was announced that Jim Hendry was going to be having a press conference early Friday, everyone thought it would be the Zambrano contract. Instead, Hendry announced that Notre Dame wide reciever and pitcher Jeff Samardzija would not play football and signed a five-year, $10 million Major League contract. Although he won’t be called up this year, it was good to see the Cubs looking down the road. As Hendry said
"We’re going to be good, and we’re going to stay good"
Amen to that.
I will have more details and a photo album up for tomorrow night.