The 26th Annual Cubs Convention opens today, offering fans a variety of intriguing sessions in which to learn a little more about the state of the team and organization. Most observers, critical and casual, are wondering about the atmosphere of this year's gathering.â†µ
How will the team's representatives seek to mollify an angry fanbase frustrated by a losing season, an ownership group that's made several PR missteps already and a team with dubious chances in the suddenly stronger 2011 NL Central? After all, for the first time in its existence, this year's convention didn't even sell out! Well, if the pictures emerging on Twitter and elsewhere are any indication, it's youth. Check this out:â†µ
Yes, that's not veteran third baseman Aramis Ramirez or highly paid left fielder Alfonso Soriano in that picture. Nor is it the well-liked center fielder Marlon Byrd (age 33) or even the surprise off-season addition pitcher Kerry Wood (also 33). That's 20-year-old shortstop Starlin Castro, 25-year-old outfielder Tyler Colvin and 24-year-old pitcher Andrew Cashner.â†µ
And in that image may lie what we can all expect to hear from Cubs brass this weekend. An emphasis on youth, on building a young core and on the potential that these players will bring to the table in this year's season and beyond.â†µ
Oddly enough, for hardcore baseball fans, the strategy just might work. Many of us can get lost in a discussion about how much power Castro will eventually develop or whether Colvin will ever raise his on-base percentage to respectable levels or whether Cashner has the pitch selection to be an effective starter.â†µ
But, for the more casual fans who make up a large percentage of the convention's attendance, it could be a tough sell. After all, as good looking as these young kids may be, few can envision them leading the Cubs to the promised land right away. And no one wants to anticipate waiting 'til another next year -- especially on a cold January day when spring training is still weeks away.