It would be easy to insult the Cubs Convention -- the annual gathering of Cubs fans, players and management at a hotel in the blustery Chicago winter -- easy to dismiss it as a circus designed to wrangle even more money out of the pockets of unsuspecting Cubs devotees. And it is that.
But it's also a populist gesture. It's the one time of year Cubs fans get to speak directly to Jim Hendry, Lou Piniella, Crane Kenney and whoever else Cubs fans have a potential beef with. Didn't like the Mark DeRosa trade? Think Hendry needs to keep after Jake Peavy? Curious as to Lou's favorite pizza place in town? All will be answered, if you dare to ask. (This year, the Cubs Convention is being held at the Hilton Chicago on Michigan Avenue. Passes are currently sold out.)
During the rest of the year, it's a select group that gets to ask those questions. Usually, the press is pretty good at it. It's not an easy job, pestering the same group of people every day about the same things; neither the pesterers or the pesterees enjoy it, at least not all the time. They do it well all the same.
Still, there are times when a fan's question, or a blogger's, or whoever's can be more trenchant. It'd be interesting to ask Hendry, for example, to what degree he uses advanced baseball statistics in tandem with his scouting to figure out which players he wants to sign. He certainly seems to have picked up on on-base percentage the last few years, and the Kosuke Fukudome and Milton Bradley signings are both emblematic of that. Would Hendry share some of his philosophy? It doesn't hurt to ask.
In the meantime, there are plenty of other convention events going on, and pleny of autographs to get, and t-shirts to buy, and so on. But the question-answer session -- that's the good stuff. Take advantage when you can.