I am quite fortunate to know some people who have an "in" with the whole SoxFest deal.
Subsequently, I ended up having access to the 23rd floor of the Palmer House Hilton, where many of the players and participants of SoxFest 2011 ended up staying. Before things even kicked off officially, I was able to meet and greet with Steve Stone, Bill Melton, Edwin Jackson, and John Danks, all of whom were just out and about on the hotel room floor, digging on the free brownies and other accoutrement' provided for such high rollers as myself. Wowza, goodness beyond description!
Before things even started, I got Ron Kittle to sign a picture I had of me and him taken at the Sox Press Pass event. That guy is an autograph whore and will sign anything. A great guy, he is.
Friday, opening ceremony-
That modern artist fellow Oppie Otterstad did a quick draw painting of the Sox logo, all while SouthPaw egged him on. It was for lack of a better term- Neat.
Then things really started off with an amazing tribute to those of the Chicago Police department and Fire department who have given their lives in the line of duty this past year, and all years previous. The Bag Pipes and Drum Core of both departments did a combined march in (and out) that was heartwarming beyond belief. Many of the participants of the opening ceremonies wore special CPD or CFD hats. I take special pride in that ceremony as a family member of mine (the guy who made me a Sox fan in the first place) is among those whose name is honored on a wall somewhere. It was some seriously touching shit.
To the family members of the fallen CPD and CFD- Always know that the City of Chicago is eternally grateful for the service of those whom you've lost.
Then came then introduction of all the participants of SoxFest 2011. It was damn near a whose who of people you'd want to be seen with. The big highlight? Da' Mayor being presented with a picture of the Chicago Skyline during the '05 World Series Run.
After the opening ceremony, let the games begin.
Friday Night was especially cool, given the limited participation to those who shelled out for the Palmer House Hotel package. Nothing at all like the crowd on Saturday.
I decided that Friday would be my autograph day, and Saturday would be me Seminar day. I couldn't quite stick to that.
Friday night I did the Konerko and Alexei autograph sessions, and snuck into the Seminars of Kenny and Ozzie, and then "Pitchers and Catchers Report-Steve Stone, Castro, Crain, Nieves, Sale & Thornton."
It was like seeing the Holy Trinity in one body form.
I wanted to get up and just ask Konerko to say "We're putting the band back together." The chemistry between the three was just oozing out past Farmer's bad hair. It truly was easily the best seminar of the whole Fest.
Saturday was an entirely different beast.
I didn't stay at the hotel room Friday night as I had a seriously sick cat to take a shift caring for... BOOOOO KITTY. My cohorts partied with Ramon Castro and several lower level managers till all hours of the evening. Yes, Castro's head is as big in person, apparently.
Saturday morning, I was late to get the bands for an Ozzie autograph, so I got one for Hawk and Stoney. Afterwards, I went and parked myself for the seminars.
I started with "Inside The Sox: From Draft to Big Leagues. Rick Hahn with Buddy Bell & Doug Laumann.
I think this was the most informative of all the seminars I attended. Most of the prominent details have already been twittered out, but one thing I haven't seen talked about is just how much Rick Hahn ended up owning the whole Latin America scouting division scandal. It's been talked about a bit, but seriously, he took that whole thing inside and out, and flat out said it's gonna be awhile to recover from. Refreshing to hear talk like that. Also, refreshing talk from him about how his ultimate goal is to be a GM somewhere, but really, REALLY wants to just kick around in Chicago for a few more years to see what happens. I REALLY want this guy to take over, like yesterday.
The thing I took away from this one- Cox is insane and Pierre does well with him. Beckham didn't get but a few words in (Hard to do with Cox blabbing a lot) but honestly, my respect for Pierre as a hard working player jumped like ten fold. It was beyond obvious how much that guy puts into his craft of being a base stealing mo'fo. Seeing the interaction between him and Cox was easily worth the price of admission to SoxFest. Plus, he had a "Beast Mode" T-Shirt on, which made me chuckle.
Holy Crow, Dunn sitting next to Thomas. That man is BIG. And like "Texas Big" given his Longhorn background. He's bigger than Thomas, which I didn't expect to see. Regardless, the guy has chemistry already with Thomas, and given his hillbilly looks, I fully expect him and Buehrle to go off and kill some shit before Spring training. It's already been talked about him saying that a big factor in him signing with the Sox is the desire to win now, and I think it's genuine. He has also owned up to the fact that he is usually a slow starter. I hope that isn't the case, but if it is, I hope we don't give up on the man.
If Q can return to Q! from '08 and Beckham can get over the sophomore slump (which I get a good feeling about just from him joking about it during a seminar,) just salivate thinking about any combo that Ozzie seems to want to lineup- J.P, Becks, Rios, Konerko, Dunn, Q(!), Alexei, A.J. Morel (or Dayan.) Goodness, that makes me tingly. Peavy or not.