Baseball was back at Cashman Field on Saturday, and even though it wasn’t the Dominicans vs. Team USA, or 51s vs. River Cats, it was Big League Weekend, Cubs vs. Rangers, and it was 84 degrees, and the beer was cold. And because fireworks weren’t scheduled, you didn’t have to stand in line that long.
So it was good to have baseball back.
This is just one man with a pencil and a scorecard, but if the 51s want to take BLW to the next level, then they must get it in writing that neither team starts more than three players with jersey numbers in the 70s. And maybe they should hire celebrity impersonators, like Las Vegas Motor Speedway does for NASCAR Weekend.
This Kid Rock look-alike had everybody fooled at the speedway. Including Jeff Gordon.
For the Rangers, you could have a George W. Bush impersonator; he once owned them. Maybe a Jeff Burroughs imposter, with bushy sideburns. Or a faux Toby Harrah, whose last name spelled backward is the same.
Fergie Jenkins, who posted 20-win seasons for both teams, has his own postage stamp in Canada.
For the Cubs, you have Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Harry Caray, Steve Bartman and his infernal Walkman, a billy goat, Kerry Wood pulling a French horn and Andre Dawson out of the ivy. Greg Maddux could imitate himself. Now that Team USA has been eliminated from the World Baseball Classic, he’s no longer needed as pitching coach.
The 51s could hire Brian Doyle-Murray to pretend to be his brother, the uber Cubs fan, because Brian Doyle-Murray could use the work. He could stroll the concourse, stand in line to use the restroom, wear one of those floppy Cubs bucket hats, throw out the first pitch way better than the comedian George Wallace did Saturday.
He could say “Back off man, I’m a scientist and a Cub fan.”
You could have a conversation with him that might go like this:
Q: How would you characterize the crowd of 9,005, all these Cubs fans who have come out to Cashman Field again?
A: We are the wretched refuse. We’re the underdog. We’re mutts. But there’s no animal that’s more faithful, that’s more loyal, more lovable, than the mutt.
Who saw the 1984 National League Championship Series? Who cried when Leon Durham let that ball go through his legs at the end? I cried my eyes out. So we’re all dogfaces. There’s something wrong with us, something very, very wrong with us. We’ve been losing ballgames for 150 years. We’re 10 and 1. I mean 1 and 10.
Q: What about recent trades. Will these make the Cubs a better ballclub?
A: A baseball team without leaders is like a foot without a big toe. And Ryan Dempster wasn’t always gonna be here, to be that big toe for us. That’s why we traded him to the Rangers for an Italian beef sandwich and a six-pack of Old Style. So I think we owe a big round of applause to our newest, bestest buddy and big toe ... Anthony Rizzo.
Q: If the Cubs ever win the World Series, can you imagine the scene at Wrigley Field?
A: Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A bunch of former utility infielders, now, about to become World Series champions.
Q: Of all the flashes in the pan, and the good ones who got away — Lou Brock, trading Bill Madlock to the Giants for Bobby Murcer — is there somebody else who might have made a difference?
A: The Dalai Lama, himself. The flowing robes, the grace, bald, striking. Like Jose Cardenal, minus the giant Afro.
Q: The Dalai Lama was a ballplayer?
A: Oh yeah. I’m in the on-deck circle with him this one time when I was honorary bat boy. Second game of a doubleheader against the Mets, after September call-ups. I give him a 40-ounce Louisville Slugger. One of those Richie Allen models. He hauls off and really whacks one — big hitter, The Lama. Long, over the ivy, over the bleachers, out onto Waveland Avenue. Do you know what The Lama says? Gunga galunga ... gunga, gunga-lagunga.
Q: So the Dalai Lama talks like Ozzie Guillen?
A: Yup. And after he touches them all I say, “Hey, Lama, how about a little something, you know, for the effort?” And so he gives me a high five. And he says “When you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness, and primo seats behind the dugout for a weekend series against the Cardinals.” So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.
Q: What about Bartman interfering with Moises Alou on that foul pop fly in the ‘03 playoffs with the Cubs five outs away from the World Series?
A: He slimed me.
Q: C’mon. How could it be Bartman’s fault when Alex Gonzalez booted Miggy Cabrera’s routine double-play ball two batters later that would have gotten Prior out of the inning?
A: Gonzalez slimed me, too.
Q: So despite predictions for another 100-loss season, and that the Cubs haven’t appeared in a World Series since 1945 — and haven’t won one since 1908 — you honestly believe this is going to be their year?
A: That’s the fact, Jack!
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.