I had to sit down and write this, because lately, it has been lingering in my mind, 2003, Chicago v. Florida. We know what happened and the firestorm that lay in wait after the collapse of that Cubs team in that NLCS.
A young man named Steve Bartman was vilified for being the sole problem for the disintegration of that playoff team. We know what happened. We know that Bartman’s life was turned upside down. We know the story and if you saw the ESPN film “Catching Hell”, you know the key players in this film.
So as the Cubs went further into the playoffs, Bartman’s name popped up, as it usually does around playoff time. As the Cubs got deeper and deeper into each successful round, Bartman’s name became heard more often than not. That is when I turned to Twitter.
The most seen tweet I saw was “If the Cubs win, we forgive you, Steve Bartman.” That made me angry. What kind of self-absorbed dim-witted, beer-swilling, online troll keyboard jockey posts things like this? Apparently a lot of people.
I looked back at the Red Sox team of 1986, which the ’03 Cubs and the ’86 Red Sox drew a lot of comparisons. I think back to that ground ball to Buckner. I remember absolutely losing my mind. I was 15 years old, I was (it seemed) one strike away from seeing the Red Sox win their first World Series in my lifetime. As a kid, I was excited. Then the “ground ball”.
I despised Buckner, but then I remember looking back at the game, days later. What happened? Well Schiraldi and Stanley happened. Schiraldi got two quick outs but then the Mets got 3 quicker singles to load the bases. That’s when the call was made to the pen for Stanley and his beach ball “palm ball”. Yes, his sinker he delivered produced the ground ball it was meant to, but 3 straight singles… John McNamara had used a defensive replacement for Buckner all year because Buckner’s knees were shot.
You take those factors and look at them and it wasn’t Buckner’s fault. Just like 2003 was not, never was, and never will be Steve Bartman’s fault.
Skipping all the events starting with the Alex Gonzales ground ball boot to get the Florida juggernaut going, it never was, wasn’t and never will be Steve Bartman’s fault. So when I see “We Forgive You, Steve.” It makes me cringe, just like the fans carrying the sheet through Fenway that read “We Forgive Buckner” in 2004. Bullshit.
Just like Bill Buckner, Steve Bartman doesn’t need, deserve, want, wanted, have to have the fans ‘forgiveness’. Let’s just quickly look at my list of villains for the 2003 debacle.
Jeff Gowen, FOX Sports. How many times did they replay that foul ball in that game? Before the Jumbotron was installed in Wrigley, there could have been a little more time for Bartman to escape with some dignity. Jeff Gowen threw this replay up, it seemed, 200 times. This did not help at all. He eldues to and admits it may have been too much. I think that the 4th replay was too much. The 40th was way too much and the 400th time was just beating a dead horse. This guy thought it had to be done though.
Dane Placko. Ace Reporter. All he needs to complete the ensemble is the press hat from the 1950’s. This guy had to track down and help uncover the “name of the perpetrator” when it came to finding out who tried to go for that foul ball. He helped ruin a man’s life or at least, the last 13 years of a man’s life. I hope he sleeps at night. His investigative journalism made Steve Bartman a household name, since he had to be the first. The media helped screw a guy royally.
This guy, Jim Cuthbert, is my favorite. Proud Chicagoan. A massive, colossal, monolithic, douchebag of historic proportions. Proud that he went out of his way to go down and ask “Where’s the asshole?” when all he has to do is look in the mirror each morning. Jim Cuthbert. A million dollar smile that could sell a cancer patient a cure. Smile on his face when asked if he had been kicked out of games before. Smile on his face when he was getting his 15 minutes, smile on his face when he went after an innocent fan and human being. Way to go Jim, you’re right up there with Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Josef Mengele, Hitler, Eva Braun, the SS, I could go on and on, but the list is too long. You get my point.
This jackwagon. I don’t know if this was Cuthbert 13 years prior (see what I did there?) but this guy and his pacing like a feral cat, trapped in a corner with someone ready to throw water on it. I watched this part of the film over and over, trying to get in this guy’s head. Trying to get into his thinking process. I just couldn’t. The irrationality that was the squirrels running around in his head at breakneck speeds is mind boggling. Look at him, mind-blowing baby-like qualities.
This guy, and Cuthbert before him, are the epitome of shitty Chicago fans, and shitty sports fans everywhere for that matter. This guy, made it his “to do list” to go down as far as he could to throw a beer on Bartman. A beer. He gained a split second of satisfaction waltzing down and throwing a beer at Bartman for going after a foul ball that five or six other people went for. An act anyone would have done. This guy was so distraught, it was like watching a child throw a tantrum. But children are more mature than this guy. This guy. He will always be “That Guy”, maybe Dane Placko can get me his name.
I wonder what he felt immediately afterwards. Relief? Satisfaction? Happiness? This guy, and the look of distraught on his face, the look you see when at that nanosecond, you could literally see him snap in his mond and go clearly fucking insane. I love it, I also consider him one of about 20,000 in that place that turned into an instant animal, just add beer. Budweiser beer, from Anheuser-Busch!
Then there’s this winner that could only come up with, “I hope you enjoy your season tickets… blah blah blah.” I’m sure 75% of the stadium that night was as broken on the inside as this genius orator. I just wish Jabba the Hutt could of had more air time, film time, and I could have heard anything else from this century’s Samuel Clemons. I bet he went home that evening and wrote a masterpiece of literary genius. Something that generations could read and ponder in deep thought over like a Jack Kerouac, Ernest Hemingway, or Kurt Vonnegut novel. Thought provoking and debate inducing.
As an extra, I will add Moises Alou. Acting like he had it, then saying he didn’t, then flip-flopping back to he had it. Be a professional admit you had it, but didn’t get it. Stop your back-and-forth bullshit when the story is told. As far as I’m concerned, after I finish this, the story is and should be dead to everyone.
Now, enough of the Friar’s Club Roast of Every Distraught 2003 Cubs fan. Anyone saying “We forgive you , Steve Bartman.” Isn’t worthy of being a Cubs fan. Anyone saying “I was joking.” Really wasn’t. You weren’t thinking. I give you, no benefit of the doubt. You were not thinking. Nor were you joking, you really weren’t, admit to it. Be an adult and just say, “I wasn’t joking, Steve Bartman doesn’t need forgiveness.”
All the Cub fans that were relentless, threatening, animals should be the ones asking Steve Bartman for forgiveness. Just as every Red Sox fan that cursed, threatened, and demeaned Bill Buckner in 1986, including myself. Mr. Buckner will never read this, but please forgive me for cursing you out in 1986. I know it is a game and not your fault.
As for Steve Bartman, if you were there, cursing him, threatening his life, calling him an asshole. You need to ask him for forgiveness because he doesn’t need to be forgiven. Stay in your world Mr. Bartman. Don’t do commercials, first pitches, autographs, card shows. Be the outstanding man you have been since 2013 and before. I hope you are living good, living life to the fullest and celebrating your Cubbies winning it all.
I’m glad the Cubs won, I’m happy that Theo broke another curse. David Ross went out in style, which is more than I can say for David Ortiz, but that’s another story for another day. The Cubs did good, but I can say, from my own point of view, after the Sox won in ’04, it wasn’t the same. Then ’07 happened, and ’13. Now, we take it for granted, we expect only the best. Sox fans didn’t get that this year. I think we should have seen a Red Sox/Cubs World Series, but that is left for another year.
Maybe next year.