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


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.

You can follow Bob on Twitter, and get all your HBT updates here.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Leave a comment

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.