It was eveywhere we looked Friday night. The blue "W" on the white background. It was around our neck as we entered the Chicago Hilton, it was hanging from the walls in the Grand Ballroom, it was on the Convention program, tshirts, and everywhere else you looked. This was the beginning of a new era in Cubs baseball. Bruce-O, Ray Ray, Matty and I got to the Hilton early and took a great spot up front where the opening ceremonies of the 22nd Cubs Convention would begin. Since we got there so early, we cracked a few cold ones and played some cards to kill some time. Before long, the room filled and anticipation grew, as we waited for the Cubbies to emerge from hibernation. Finally, Pat Huges, the master of ceremonies came out to kick things off. After Wayne Messmer gave a stirring rendition of the Star Spangeled Banner, Pat introduced former Cubs like, Rod Beck, Glen Beckert, Jody Davis, and Randy Hundley. After that he introduced Cubs legends Ryne Sandberg, Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams, and Mr. Cub Ernie Banks. Then came the 2007 Cubs Coaches; Gerald Perry, Alan Trammell, Matt Sinatro, Mike Quade, Ivan De Jesus, Lester Strode, and Loooooouuuuu. The only one who didn’t recieve a warm welcome was Larry Rothchild, who heard his share of boos. I don’t think it hit Pinella until he came out on the balconey that the Cubs Convention was so crazy. Finally came the 2007 Cubs; Ryan Dempster, Michael Barrett, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Jason Marquis, Ted Lilly, Neal Cotts, Scott Eyre, Mark DeRosa, Sean Marshall, Matt Murton, and Ryan Theriot. The biggest cheers came for Derrek Lee, Carlos Zambrano,and of course, Alfonso Soriano. After some words from gm Jim Hendry, and Ernie Banks singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame", there was a short video with some highlights from last year, and some low lights, but the film also looked towards the future by showcasing some of their off season moves. Of course the place went nuts when they showed Barret slugging that ******* AJ Pierzcinski. (sorry, I just love to show this photo). We then went to the Continental Ballroom where WGN set up their Sports Central Broadcast, hosted by Dave Kaplan and Tom Waddle. The first group to come out was Dempster, DeRosa, and Eyre. This interview was a little boring and nothing really interesting came from it. The one thing that was noticable was that Eyre and Dempster looked like they were both in really good shape. Then came Jim Hendry, Lou Pinella, Pat Hughes, and Ron Santo. After Jim’s productive off season he was warmly recieved by the crowd. Everything that came out of Lou’s mouth was sweet music to Cubs fans ears. Accountability, fundamentals, hustle, everything the Cubs have been lacking the last few years. I think that Pat Hughes said it best; He said that after the 2004 seaon, when the Cubs were picked to win the World Series, that after the close of that season, he said he would never get overly enthusiastic about a baseball club again, but after Hendry’s moves, he can’t help to be excited. Ron chimed in that he gets excited every year. Lou got the crowd excited when Kaplan asked him what he would do about the lack of fundamentals and hustle on the Cubs. Lou replied that he never had a problem with players not hustling, and he doesn’t expect any problems here. He also said that as far as fundamentals, he said you insist they do it right, and if they don’t, they’ll be out there the next morning working on it. Every Cub fan was floating on Cloud Nine. The next session was Michael Barrett and Alfonso Soriano, with Derek Lee a no-show. It was during this session that Soriano let it be known that he would be willing to play center field. This is something that could really work for the Cubs, provided that Soriano gets a lot of work in. Pinella talked about how he would get some work in with his coaches.The last session of the night was Ted Lilly, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, and Carlos Zambrano. Of course the question marks around the health of Kerry and Mark, and a lot of the answers were the same as they always give. There was also concern about Carlos’ contract. Hopefully the Cubs get it done before spring training is over. After all this excitement, it was time to go to the bar. Fun times with Bruce-o, Ray Ray, Mattie, the ladies, and Bill Madlock! After a few cocktails and some great Cubs talk it was finally time to go to bed. After all, the next session would be at 9am. I will continue with Day 2 of the Convention on Thursday.