OH, SCRAP: CON­VEN­TION CAN­CELED

Chicago Sun-Times - - CUBS BEAT - BY STEVE GREENBERG sgreen­berg@sun­times.com | @slgreen­berg

The 2021 Cubs Con­ven­tion is ka­put, the lat­est event to be can­celed be­cause of the coro­n­avirus.

It was to be held Jan. 15-17 at the Sher­a­ton Grand Chicago. Those dates get wiped away like so many oth­ers through­out the sports world have been.

“Pain and tor­ture,” Cubs vice pres­i­dent of com­mu­ni­ca­tions Ju­lian Green said.

That was a ref­er­ence to the one-thing-af­ter-an­other ex­pe­ri­ence lately of be­ing a fan who can’t go to a game at Wrigley Field, can’t look for­ward to con­ven­tion tick­ets go­ing on sale in Au­gust, can’t en­joy their team as usual.

Will they at least be able to watch Open­ing Day on tele­vi­sion? Fans are fret­ting about that, too.

“I think in an en­vi­ron­ment where live sports were abruptly taken away, and then the prospects of them com­ing back with­out fans be­ing in the stands — and then cer­tainly for our fran­chise, Cubs Con­ven­tion, one of the long­est-run­ning fan en­gage­ments, be­ing can­celed — it’s just dis­ap­point­ing,” Green said.

“Do peo­ple get it be­cause we’re in a pan­demic? Sure, but they’re no less dis­ap­pointed.”

The Cubs’ an­nual event dates to 1986 and is a trend­set­ter, with such fan gath­er­ings now com­mon­place for the city’s other pro­fes­sional teams and across sports leagues. And the Cubs do their event up big, typ­i­cally draw­ing around 10,000 pay­ing cus­tomers.

Ul­ti­mately, call­ing the next one off was a “prac­ti­cal de­ci­sion,” Green said, and not all that com­pli­cated, though the Cubs didn’t make it with­out se­ri­ous dis­ap­point­ment of their own.

“You’re hop­ing that ei­ther the data or the science will tell you that things will be in­creas­ingly bet­ter in Jan­uary, but that’s not the case,” Green said. “The fact of the mat­ter is there are still un­knowns and prob­a­bly more un­cer­tain­ties go­ing into Jan­uary 2021 than we could pre­dict.

“We felt like we had to do it now rather than have to come back to the fan base — af­ter pro­vid­ing lim­ited hope that we were hav­ing it — only to dash those hopes.”

The Cubs re­main hope­ful for lim­ited at­ten­dance at games at some point this sea­son. In the mean­time, they’ve hosted vir­tual fo­rums with front-of­fice mem­bers for sea­son-ticket hold­ers. They’ve in­creased con­tent on dig­i­tal and so­cial chan­nels. They’re work­ing on an “out­door din­ing dis­trict” on Clark Street on non-game week­ends.

It’s not the same as the real thing, of course.

“We need some wins,” Green said.

On the field — soon — and off.

All about the ‘W’

One of the themes bub­bling up in Cubs camp is that in­di­vid­ual sta­tis­tics — even for play­ers in make-or-break con­tract years — are taboo sub­jects. In a 60-game reg­u­lar sea­son, they’ll be rel­a­tively mean­ing­less as it is. Just win, baby.

“I think stats in gen­eral, at the end of all this, aren’t go­ing to play a huge role for ca­reer or maybe money in the fu­ture, or the [usual] dy­nam­ics that go along with stats,” man­ager David Ross said. “I think it’s go­ing to be about the ‘W’ this year and win­ning, and the team that can fo­cus on that and em­brace each role.”

How con­sid­er­ate

The Cubs sent cash con­sid­er­a­tions to the Padres for the rights to pitcher Trevor Megill, who was as­signed to the team’s taxi camp in South Bend, In­di­ana. The Cubs se­lected Megill — a 6-8, 235-pounder with ma­jor ve­loc­ity — from the Padres in the Rule 5 draft in De­cem­ber. He could be a bullpen depth piece down the road.

Open­ing op­po­nent

The Brew­ers named Bran­don Woodruff their Open­ing Day starter for the July 24 game at Wrigley Field. Woodruff was 11-3 with a 3.62 ERA be­fore an in­jury cut short his 2019 sea­son. He’ll op­pose fel­low right-han­der Kyle Hendricks. ✶

NAM Y. HUH/AP

Javy Baez (left) cel­e­brates with Kyle Sch­war­ber af­ter hit­ting a solo home run in the in­trasquad game Fri­day at Wrigley Field.

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