Today is the seven-year anniversary of the 'Bartman game'

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After a miserable season for the Cubs, I’m sure those Chicago fans who follow them have already moved on to worrying about the Bears, the Bulls and maybe even the Blackhawks.

Speaking of people who would probably like to move on but can’t, today is the seven-year anniversary of Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, otherwise known as the ‘Bartman game.’

In case you’ve spent the last seven years spelunking, that was the night that diehard Cubs fan Steve Bartman did what many fans would do — he reached out to catch a foul ball. Only in Bartman’s case, his reaction unwittingly prevented Cubs outfielder Moises Alou from doing the same, setting into motion a chain of events that would spark a horrific Cubbies meltdown and — perhaps even worse on a karmic level — lead the Florida Marlins to their second World Series title.

Despite the fact that the Cubs fell apart faster than Brett Favre’s reputation, it was Bartman, not the team, who was blamed. And except for the briefest of glimpses, he hasn’t been heard from since.

From Paul Sullivan:

Bartman never has spoken publicly about his infamous moment in Cubs’ history, though he apologized the next day and the Cubs issued a statement absolving him. Cubs fans, for the most part, have forgiven Bartman, directing the blame toward shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who made a crucial error, or starter Mark Prior, who became unraveled.

But fair or not, Bartman’s legacy remains intact, perpetuated by the national media.

Whether you want to blame the national media, Alex Gonzalez, Cubs fans, Jenn Sterger, Babe Ruth, A.J. Burnett or a billy goat, Steve Bartman will forever be a part of baseball history. Just like Bill Buckner and Ralph Terry. Just like Brooks Conrad. It’s unfortunate, but it happens, and it’s never going to go away.

According to Sullivan, ESPN was supposed to air a Bartman documentary before the 2010 World Series as part of their “30-30” series, but the filmmaker, Academy Award-winner Alex Gibney, asked for it to be pushed back a year.

Maybe he’s trying to get Bartman to talk? I don’t know. But I do know that I would like to see Bartman emerge to tell the story from his point of view. I would be willing to bet he would garner a lot of sympathy at this point, seven years removed from the infamous night.

But for now we’ll just have to remember the night for what it was: a gift for the Marlins, heartbreak for the Cubs, and an unforgettable night for baseball fans, no matter who they were rooting for.

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A Mexican team wins the Caribbean Series for the third time in four years

Mexican players celebrate their victory in the Caribbean Series baseball final against Aragua Tigres of Venezuela, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. Designated hitter Jorge Vazquez hit a game-winning home run leading off the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday, lifting Mexico's Venados de Mazatlan to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory and the championship of the Caribbean Series. (AP Photo/Roberto Guzman)
Associated Press
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For those who aren’t familiar, Serie del Caribe, or the Caribbean Series, is the highest club level baseball tournament in Latin America, pitting the champions of the winter leagues in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela against one another in a bacchanalia of baseball that, if there was justice in the world, we’d all be watching instead of football.

This year’s installment ended last night with Mexico’s Mazatlan Venados beating Venezuela’s Aragua Tigres 5-4 in the final game at Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Jorge Vazquez — who Yankees fans may remember from a few years back — provided the winning margin when he hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning.

This is the third Serie del Caribe title for a Mexican club in the past four years, with Naranjeros de Hermosillo winning in 2014 and Yaquis de Obregón winning in 2013. Pinar del Río from Cuba won it last winter. This is the first time the Venados have won it.

As we noted yesterday, this was longtime MLB starter Freddy Garcia‘s last game. He gave up four hits and allowed two earned runs over five and a third innings for the Tigres, getting a no-decision.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.