Miles: An unconventional convention idea for Cubs

  • Former Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano visited his old team on Friday at Wrigley Field. Zambrano also was in town to take part in a charity softball game in Schaumburg on Saturday.

      Former Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano visited his old team on Friday at Wrigley Field. Zambrano also was in town to take part in a charity softball game in Schaumburg on Saturday. BRUCE MILES | Staff Photographer

Updated 9/8/2014 1:33 PM

It's fun to behold the power of social media, especially when it comes to a brand as big as the Chicago Cubs.

Seeing and talking to former Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano on Friday got me to thinking about several things and throwing ideas out Saturday on Twitter.


One of those ideas was for the Cubs to invite Zambrano, Sammy Sosa and Lou Piniella to next January's annual fan convention and to let it roll.

Can you imagine how much fun that would be?

I've written the last few years about how dull the convention has become. A lot of losing seasons will do that. It's also true, as one Twitter follower put it, that with Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez at next year's convention, people should be flocking downtown in the middle of a cold Chicago January.

But as convention originator John McDonough always used to put it, the Cubs convention is as much an alumni reunion as anything else.

You invite Big Z, Sammy and Lou, and you sell out in a matter of minutes, if not seconds.

Start by introducing each at the opening ceremonies and let the cheers -- or boos -- rain down as they may.

On the Saturday of the convention, you can conduct separate sessions with each of these larger-than-life characters. Or, to play on an idea of one Twitter follower, maybe you put them all together in a session called "All is Forgiven" and get ubiquitous media gadfly David Kaplan to host it.

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Our Twitter thread evolved, or devolved, from there, with some suggesting the Cubs devote a session to the 2003 team.

Let's think about something here with that. Over the years at the convention, one of the most popular sessions, or variations on a session, has been one on the 1969 Cubs.

The 2003 Cubs came within five outs of the World Series, and there's always been a bad taste left in people's mouths about that. (The utterly unlikeable 2004 team may be viewed as an extension of the '03 club.)

The 1969 team collapsed down the stretch and did not play one postseason game, but they remain one of the most popular teams in franchise history despite that.

People no doubt remember that team as an oasis of innocence during turbulent social times, and there was great everyman appeal with guys like Glenn Beckert, Don Kessinger and Randy Hundley to go along with the superstar power of Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Ernie Banks.


But I'm sensing, also from that same Twitter stream of consciousness, that fans are choosing to remember the good and fun things about the 2003 team. Names such as Eric Karros (who took home videos in '03), Mark Grudzielanek and Joe Borowski (they don't get more everyman than Joe) were tossed about by tweeters, who also cited Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Moises Alou and Matt Clement.

So let's do this. I want to hear Lou say, "Look, I took Big Z out in Game 1 in Arizona because …"

I want to hear Sammy say, "Heck, yes, I corked the bat, and …"

And I want the Cubs to bring a Gatorade jug up to the stage and let Big Z have one more hack at it.

Finally, as I tweeted: You're welcome, @Cubs, and I'll collect my consultant's fee at the door on my way out.


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