Well, today is October 14, 2008. What’s so special about today? Well five years ago to this day, a Chicago Cubs fan by the name of Steve Bartman was allegedly accused of a crime: the crime of eliminating the Chicago Cubs from World Series contention. HOW did he do that you ask if he were sitting in the stands?
Well, it was the top of the 8th inning of Game 6 in the NLCS between the Florida Marlins and the Chicago Cubs. With the Cubs leading 3 to 0, they were only five outs away from their first appearance in the World Series since 1945. Mark Prior was pitching a three-hit shutout for Chicago, and Luis Castillo was standing at the plate with Juan Pierre at second base. Moises Alou played left field for the Cubs, where Steve Bartman sat beside.
The pitch…and it’s a foul ball to left field, but still in play! Here is Alou! He’s running to the stands. He leaps! And…now Alou is apparently upset about something! He just slammed his glove down and is having a few words for the fans!
What really happened was that the ball was going to land between the fans and Alou. However, the fans, not aware of Alou trying to make the catch, tried to catch the ball, which ended up getting knocked away by Steve Bartman.
The Cubs wanted an interference call, but umpire Mike Everitt ruled that there was no fan interference. And really, why should there have been fan interference if it were a CUBS fan who interfered with the play? In my opinion, fan interference calls should ALWAYS favor the visiting team simply because the fans would try and rig the game in favor of their team.
But anyways, back to the game. The Cubs ultimately lost that game after giving up eight runs in the eighth inning as well as the insuing Game 7 by a score of 9 to 6. Instead of the Chicago Cubs, the Florida Marlins ended up going to the World Series, where they beat the New York Yankees in six games.
As for Steve Bartman, he soon became the scapegoat in all of Chicago…well at least for Cubs fans. Bartman had to be escorted out of the stadium by security, and Cubs fans were irate at the 26-year old. They shouted curse words at him. They gathered his name, as well as his personal information. It was simply a nightmare for Bartman.
So whatever happened to the Bartman ball? Well it was auctioned off for over $100,000 to Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group, who ultimately used the remains of the ball in a pasta sauce.
HOWEVER, I am writing in defense of Bartman. While I am not saying that what he did in Game 6 wasn’t wrong, I am saying that what Cubs fans think about the Bartman incident is wrong. Here are my top 5 reasons for why Cubs fans should just leave Bartman alone:
5. The Cubs pitching just fell apart at the wrong time. As said before, Mark Prior had been pitching a three-hit shutout and was well on his way to leading the Cubs to the World Series. However, everything just fell apart for the pitching. It’s one of those innings where it seems like no matter what pitch you throw, a Florida batter will just end up hitting it regardless of where you pitch the ball. After Florida tied the game, Prior was pulled from the mound, and relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth came in the game. He would allow five more runs in that inning alone. One incident alone shouldn’t have accounted for all those pitching mishaps. If you want to blame someone for the horrid pitching, blame the pitching coach or the manager, not a poor, helpless Cubs fan. Any team whose pitching collapses like that doesn’t deserve to go to the World Series.
4. Moises Alou. He should have kept his temper to himself. In April 2008, Moises Alou said, “Everywhere I play, even now, people still yell, ‘Bartman! Bartman!’ I feel really bad for the kid….You know what the funny thing is? I wouldn’t have caught it, anyway.” A professional baseball player should never act like what Alou acted like after Bartman interfered with him, especially if Alou didn’t have a real chance of making the second out of that inning. His display of temper made the other Cubs players upset, and that consequently led to the 8 Florida runs in the 8th inning.
3. There were other fans trying to catch the ball as well. If you look at replays of that incident, you can obviously see that other fans besides Bartman were sticking their hands out trying to catch the foul ball. It was just unfortunate for Bartman that the ball ended up landing in his hands. But change the trajectory of that ball a few degrees north or south and Cubs fans would end up blaming someone else for screwing their team over. Either way, some Cubs fan gets blamed, and the only reason it was Bartman was because he was sitting in the right (or in this case, wrong) place. Plus, who doesn’t want a free souvenir from a baseball game? It’s baseball, not an art museum.
2. Alex Gonzalez. The Cubs were leading 3 to 1 when Prior was still pitching. A Miguel Cabrera ground ball was headed towards Alex Gonzalez for what should have been a routine 6-4-3 double play. However, Gonzalez bobbled the ball, and all runners were safe. Had Gonzalez made the double play, it would have ended the inning, and the Cubs would have gotten out of this misery they call “the top of the 8th inning.”
1. Last, but most importantly, there was a game 7. And the Cubs played well in that game 7. You had Kerry Wood on the mound, who was arguably supposed to be one of the best pitchers in the MLB at the time (well what more can you ask for than a pitcher who once struck out 20 batters in a game?). The Cubs were winning 5-3 in the game, but after a three-run 5th inning for Florida that put them up 6-5, the Marlins cruised to a 9-6 victory over the Cubs.
So there you have it. Five reasons why you should NOT blame Bartman for the Cubs’ curse in 2003. Any Cubs fan who still thinks otherwise is certainly entitled to do so, but I am simply giving my arguments on behalf of the poor little fellow. How would you feel if YOU were blamed by others for being responsible for your favorite team’s loss?
I know if I were blamed for the Washington Capitals losing to the Philadelphia Flyers, I would probably leave the United States and move to Canada. In fact, I actually did believe I was responsible for the Capitals losing, and I felt like leaving youtube because of that. Luckily, for me, I had too many friends on youtube (especially Jon) that I just couldn’t leave behind.