Things I learned from watching two innings of Saturday’s Cubs vs. Mets exhibition baseball game (before heading over to the Thomas & Mack Center for the New Mexico vs. San Diego State basketball battle royale), and all nine innings of Sunday’s game:
— Cashman Field looked spectacular. I’m talking about the Field part — the grass never looked so green this early. The Cashman part, on the other hand, is one year older. The concourses still are too narrow; the restrooms still too few when there’s a big crowd, the weather is warm, and the “ice cold beer here!” flows like a mountain stream.
— The Cubs’ top players Sunday were No. 75, Arismendy Alcantara, a second baseman, who went 3-for-3 with a home run; and No. 85, Dan Vogelbach, a first baseman, who went 2-for-4 with a dinger. Vogelbach is not the same guy who wrote that “Longer” song one sometimes hears at weddings. If you’re scoring at home, that was Dan Fogelberg of Peoria, not Dan Vogelbach of Chicago.
— If you’re a long-suffering Cubs fan — is there any other kind? — you’d probably prefer it was the guys with the low jersey numbers who were knocking the cover off the ball.
— I’ve got to be honest: I really didn’t pay attention to what jersey numbers the top Mets were wearing. I wasn’t born in New York, and I don’t much care for the Mets. Haven’t since 1969.
— Of the Cubs wearing low jersey numbers that I recognized, second baseman Darwin Barney, No. 15, plays the piano by ear and fears he might soon be traded. I learned this from his mother, Dee Dee, who was sitting behind home plate, a row behind my group. She was kind to my mother, who was in from Chicagoland via Albuquerque; she introduced my mom to her mom (Darwin’s grandmother), who is Korean, wears a flower in her hair, owns a flower shop in Las Vegas and is funnier than Bob Uecker.
— I learned (again) that sometimes it’s not about runs, hits and errors at the ballpark. Sometimes it’s about the people you meet. Or the ones who still buy you peanuts and Cracker Jack.
— Oh, one last thing I learned at Big League Weekend: This Mayor Goodman’s pitching form still is not much better than the last one’s. Based on how she threw out the first pitch, Mayor Carolyn Goodman’s spring training jersey number probably would be around 109.