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.