Most people who read my columns regularly know I am not much on sports. The only real sport for me is politics, but lately politics has become mean and it’s just not fun to cover any more.
I always thought I’d make a better sports writer. Writing about athletes would definitely attract less anger.
Last week, I took my son Aaron to the 30th Annual Cubs Convention at the Sheraton Hotel downtown. At first, I was disappointed.
The Cubs bring in old and new players who sit on stages and sign autographs for fans who wait in long lines. My first autograph line ended just as I was about to get an autograph from some Cubs player I didn’t really know. He decided he had enough and left the stage.
I was left wondering if I just wasted a whole lotta money.
But the next day, it rained autographs. My son collected more than 60 on baseballs from current players like Starlin Castro to former players like Fergie Jenkins and Lee Smith.
The lines were horrific. Standing there for up to an hour to get a quick autograph and a photo with the player was difficult and boring. It was a mess. The conventions had been held in the past at the Hilton, where I was told the lines were better organized, and more fun.
Have you ever seen the autograph of a player, or anyone, who has been writing his name over and over again 200 times in one hour? Sometimes, the signatures just don’t make sense. To ensure we didn’t forget who signed what, I created an iPhone App to take pictures of each autograph and then enter the name. It also let me add a photo of my son (and myself a few times) with the players. (You can see a lot of the pictures on my Facebook page at facebook.com/rghanania.)
Despite all the convention rah-rah about the Cubs going to the World Series, there was a touch of reality. Most players were courteous. Some were just downright mean.
And the fans?
Well, the Sheraton was filled with drunks. “Drunks” and “Cubs Fans” are synonyms. Fans literally brought cases of warm beer to the hotel, opening them as they dropped off their cars, packing the bottles into backpacks. The f-words flew everywhere. Loud and annoying.
Foul balls I can handle. Foul language, though is one of the reasons I hate going to Cubs games, although White Sox games are not much better.
I got to see friends, like Wayne Messmer, who sang the Star Spangled Banner at the convention opening. He posed with my son and gave him an autograph too.
The only thing that made three days of standing in line less gruesome was Shula’s Steak House, which has the best steak and lobster in Chicagoland.
But Aaron got most of his autographs outside the lines, waiting for the Cubs players as I sat in the lobby nearby. Some of the players only signed in clout lines where you had to know someone or have a lottery ticket. That sucked. Most of his signers were in the lobby. It was good to see him having fun.
Next time, though, I’ll buy all the baseballs and plastic cube cases from Oak Lawn’s Baseball Card King, where I know I would have saved a lot of money. The convention was way too expensive.