Monday, March 14th, 2011

Give the Guy A Break

After all these years, I still get frustrated when I think about that 8-run eighth inning. If you're a Chicago Cubs fan, you know the exact moment I'm talking about - Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series. The Cubs were up 3-0, and were five outs away from winning the franchise's first National League pennant since 1945. Not once did I blame the fan for interfering. That's when the flood gates opened and the Florida Marlins never looked back. The Marlins won the game 8-3. Since so many seasons have passed, I wish people would stop blaming Steve Bartman for that foul ball.

Today, the Chicago Tribune reported that a new documentary by ESPN Films will debut at the Tribeca Film Festival in April. The film Catching Hell shines a spotlight on that pivotal moment in Game 6. The film, according to a festival news release, "explores the psychology of die-hard sports fans, the frightening phenomenon of scapegoating, and the hysteria that turned mild-mannered Bartman into the most hated man in Chicago."

Did Bartman interfere with the play? Yes. I think most fans will agree. But that foul ball didn't cause Alex Gonzalez to boot the ball at shortstop. That didn't make Dusty Baker leave Mark Prior on the mound too long. That didn't cause Mark Prior to go soft in the head and effectively ruin his career. And it certainly didn't cause the Cubs to lose Game 7 the following night.

Will I give in and watch the documentary on television? Probably. Eventually. But I wish people would allow Bartman to live his life. I feel horrible for the guy.

Very well said!!!
stheinz   Tuesday, March 15, 2011
When I saw the title of this piece, I knew who it was going to be about! I agree wholeheartedly, Bill. That could have been just about anybody. Some people say they would know enough not to interfere with the ball, but I say that just about anybody would reach for the ball if it were coming their way....just out of self protection if nothing else. Do you happen to know where Bartman is today?
!   Tuesday, March 15, 2011
soundchick   Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I still hate Bartman. Its been over 100 years and for some supposed fan to interfere at that point in the game is a crying shame.

I would argue that the emotional let down after that play did indeed affect the error at shortstop and the pitches of Prior. I see how one bad play or error snowballs into a downpour all the time.

Now, I know these guys are suppose to be professionals and all but its still a kids game and those emotional moments play a big part.
RickMonday   Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I fell bad for the guy. I was mad at the time it happened, but my anger towards him was gone within a day. Most of the people around him were also going for the ball, he was just the unfortunate scapegoat. I can't even imagine the immediate shame he must have felt, even before the barrage of attacks.

I put much more blame on Alex Gonzalez. He's a professional ball player and let a little league grounder go between his legs. That was embarrassing.
jef   Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Rick, I think that helps perpetuate the lovable loser tag the Cubs always get stuck with. The Cubs knew what was at stake at that moment.

No, I don't know where Bartman is today. On a related note, his sister was at a wedding that Susan and I attended almost exactly one year after Game 6.
Bill Pearch   Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Bill, I really dont "hate" the guy. I should have said that I am still mad at Bartman. I heard he worked for Hewitt and got transferred over to Europe within 6 mos after the incident.
RickMonday   Tuesday, March 15, 2011
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