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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The National Anthem: an unwavering sports tradition . . . since the 1940s

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Associated Press
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There’s an interesting article over that the New York Times in the wake of the Colin Kaepernick stuff. This one is about the history of the National Anthem at sporting events.

The anthem is a fixture for as long as those of us reading this blog have been attending games and it’d be weird if it wasn’t there. But it hasn’t always been there, the Times notes. Indeed, it was not a regular fixture until 1942 when it was added for the obvious reason that we were at war. The other major sports leagues all adopted the anthem soon after. The NBA at the inception of the league in 1946 and the NHL in the same year. The NFL’s spokesman doesn’t mention a year, but notes that it’s a non-negotiable part of the game experience. The non-negotiability of it is underscored by the comment from the MLS spokesman who notes that they felt that they had no choice but to play the anthem when that league began play in the 1990s.

I like the anthem at ballgames. It just seems like part of the experience. I like it for its own sake, at least if the performance isn’t too over the top, and I like it because it serves as a nice demarcation between all of the pregame b.s. and the actual game starting.

But this article reminds us that there is no immutable structural reason for the anthem at games. Other countries don’t play their own anthems at their sporting events. We don’t play it before movies or plays or other non-sports performances. It’s a thing that we do which, however much of a tradition it has become, is somewhat odd when you think about it for a moment. And which has to seem pretty rote to the actual ballplayers who hear it maybe 180 times a year.

Jeremy Jeffress will enter rehab after Friday’s DWI arrest

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 23:  Jeremy Jeffress #23 of the Texas Rangers pitches in the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on August 23, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Texas 3-0.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Rangers reliever Jeremy Jeffress was arrested on Friday for driving while intoxicated (DWI). According to a report from WFAA-TV in Dallas, Jeffress changed lanes without signaling and almost hit a car. While he was undergoing sobriety tests, he could not keep his balance or stand on one leg. His blood-alcohol content registered at .115.

Major League Baseball has opted not to suspend Jeffress as he has voluntarily chosen to check into an inpatient rehabilitation clinic, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports. He’s expected to spend about a month at the clinic, which is based in Houston. There is still a possibility Jeffress can rejoin the Rangers in time for the postseason.

Jeffress issued a statement, which Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provided:

This is not the first time Jeffress has had trouble with substance abuse. He was suspended 50 games in 2007 after testing positive for a second time for a drug of abuse, which was marijuana. He tested positive again in June 2009 and was suspended 100 games. It was later revealed that Jeffress suffers from juvenile epilepsy and he was self-medicating with marijuana.

Hopefully, his time in rehab helps him recover from substance abuse. Substance abuse is an issue about which people have a shortage of empathy, especially when it comes to celebrities, including athletes.

The Rangers acquired Jeffress along with catcher Jonathan Lucroy from the Brewers at the August 1 trade deadline. They sent prospects Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz, and a player to be named to Milwaukee. In nine appearances with the Rangers, Jeffress has a 4.00 ERA and a 6/5 K/BB ratio.