What better time to think about baseball than in the middle of January while dealing with icy conditions.
Hey, we did have thunderstorms the other day, so that’s summer-like, right?
Guess what begins at noon on Friday? That would be the biggest Chicago Cubs Convention in the history of the universe.
For some reason, I find it ironic that it’s starting on Friday the 13th, but that’s just me.
Isn’t this why the Cubs Convention was started as the first professional sports team offseason convention back in 1986? Maybe back then, Cubs marketing guru John McDonough — now with the Chicago Blackhawks — was thinking, ‘Hey, if the Cubs ever do win the World Series, this convention thing will be huge!’
Well, if that’s really what he was thinking, he was so right.
Just think about how a normal Cubs Convention goes …"We could be good this year. Maybe we can be over .500, or even make the playoffs. Did ticket prices go up? Why haven’t pocket schedule been printed yet? Hey, is that Andre Dawson signing autographs? Why didn’t we sign Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder as a free agent?"
Trust me, those have been real conversation points at Cubs Conventions, and they all seem so petty and meaningless now.
I mean, who cares if ticket prices go up now — which they have substantially. The Cubs won the World Series.
Pocket schedules for those older fans who don’t like going on the ‘Inter-Web” for the schedule? They’ll live because the Cubs won the World Series.
Andre Dawson is here? Who cares, because there’s Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant and Joe Maddon … they won the World Series.
Those conversations between fans about how the Cubs’ roster looks and if they can get to the playoffs, while reminiscing about all the heartbreak? Nope … shouldn’t happen.
Instead, you’ll likely see complete strangers hugging each other in tears while taking photos in front of that awesome trophy … because their Cubs won the World Series.
If you’re a Cubs fan and there are still tickets available to the Cubs Convention this weekend, you gotta go.
Hey, Scott Allen (photographer for The News-Dispatch with the greatest Cubs car ever) … sure, you went to a World Series game at Wrigley Field, but this could be better.
As a White Sox fan, I still regret not working harder to attend SoxFest in 2006 after they won the World Series in 2005. The next time I had a legitimate chance to attend a similar gathering after one of my teams won a world championship, I did without hesitation. It was the summer of 2011 after my Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl.
I attended the annual Green Bay Packers Shareholders Meeting because, unlike every other sports teams’ fans, I really can call them ‘MY’ team because I have a pretty piece of fancy paper that says I’m an owner. And that shareholders’ meeting was more of a “thanks-for-coming-everybody-we-won-it-all” celebration.
That’s exactly what this Cubs Convention will be. No more what-ifs. Now those conversations with players and coaches will be, “Hey Joe … hey Rizzo … do you think we can repeat?!?!”
• Historic Hall of Fame class: Sticking with baseball, because just talking about it make me feel warmer, the Baseball Hall of Fame will announce its 2017 class next Wednesday, and it could be an historic occasion.
Why, you ask?
There has only been one five-man induction class in history, and that was the inaugural class in 1963 of Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson and Honus Wagner. And there have only been three four-man classes, though the latest was just two years ago (2015 class of Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz).
That 2015 one was pretty good, but we could get a four- or five-man class this year, based on outlets that track many of the Baseball Writers Association of America voters. Based on results from a little less than 44 percent of the voters, three players look like locks to get the necessary 75 percent of the vote — Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Trevor Hoffman — and two others are on the edge with Ivan Rodriguez between 74 and 76 percent in projections, and Vladimir Guerrero between 73 and 75 percent.
Now the names aren’t as high profile as that 1936 class, or even the 2015 group, but that many is still a big deal … and deserving of some additional analysis.
Bagwell and Rodriguez have been linked to possible steroid use. Raines was an admitted frequent cocaine user. So it really does sound like that first class, which wasn’t exactly a group of upstanding men. Multiple movies and books claim Ruth did jail time and had multiple mistresses, while Cobb was considered a huge racist and told a sportswriter “In 1912 — and you can write this down — I killed a man in Detroit.”
This brings me to possible hall of famers in future years. Projections have Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens getting closer to 75 percent — between 55-60 for each of them. I’m as old school as anyone when it comes to baseball, but both of those players should be in. They were each among the best that ever played, before and while taking steroids, and compared to other inductees over the decades, they’re choirboys.
As for Pete Rose … well, that’s another conversation that needs more space and time.
Reach sports editor Steve T. Gorches at firstname.lastname@example.org or (219) 214-4206. Follow him on Twitter @SteveTGorches.