I caught myself watching “Catching Hell” while switching back and forth between playoff games the other night. Pure lunacy what happened to Steve Bartman.
As a baseball fan, I was appalled then and maybe more so now, by the behavior of other supposed fans. One supposed Cubs fan interviewed in the documentary was ejected for throwing his food and beverages on Steve Bartman, and was still proud of himself almost 10 years later for his actions. He’s the one who should live a life in hiding. Shame on you. And shame on all of you who agree with him.
Steve Bartman didn’t lose Game Six. Consider:
- Alex Gonzalez’ s untimely error on a potential double-play ball would have been an inning-ender and preserved a delicate lead.
- Super ace Mark Prior retired zero Marlins after the Bartman flap. None. He walked Luis Castillo. Pudge Rodriguez singled in a run. There was Gonzo’s famous error. DLee rips a double. Tie game. Wheels come off. Farnsworth gives up a bases loaded double to the immortal Mike Mordecai. Game over.
- The better team won the series, folks. They also won the World Series that year.
- It’s not a given that Moises Alou catches that ball. It’s not. It was a difficult play. Who is to say that even if he catches that ball, they still win the game? They were leading 3-0 at the time … not an insurmountable lead against a playoff team with five outs to go.
- Kerry Wood was shelled in Game Seven. Season over.
Point is, people blame the wrong guy. Steve Bartman had zero to do with winning or losing the game. The players win and lose the game, not a fan that reached out and did what any other fan would likely have done in that situation. Want to blame someone? Blame Alex Gonzalez, Mark Prio, and Kyle Fransworth. They didn’t do their jobs, lost the game and series, and didn’t have to go into hiding to protect their and their families’ lives.
Nearly 10 years later, it’s time to let go of theories about goats, or that a fan derailed a potentially historical year for the Cubs. Booting groundballs and not being able to retire a Triple A hitter with the game on the line derailed the season. Enough.
Other thoughts on baseball
Theo Epstein would be a great hire for the Cubs. However, he is still under contract to the Boston Red Sox for next year, and seems loyal to that team, and wants to be the president of any team he takes his services to in the future. The savvy Red Sox will require compensation if the Cubs want him. Is Theo Epstein worth Starlin Castro? Not in my book. But he may be worth Matt Garza. I still say they should go after Billy Beane.
And how about the new manager of the White Sox, Robin Ventura? He’s the anti-Ozzie in some ways. He will be more composed with the players, fans and media, and maybe this will put the attention back to the players on the field. Ventura was a smart, heady player who had some of the most solid fundamentals of any player in Sox history. Remember that sweet lefty swing, that grace fielding a bunt? Let’s hope that translates to success, although I am not holding my breath. I am not sure we have enough information to judge this hire yet, as Robin Ventura and I share same the same amount of MLB managing experience: zero.
Finally, interesting to note that no AL East teams/ESPN darlings remain alive in the World Series hunt. What wins championships? Pitching, and defense, and timely hitting. Oh, and pitching. Yes, and the pitching. Neither the Red Sox, who failed to even make the playoffs, nor the Yankees, who were eliminated by the Tigers (!?) last night, had enough of it to advance. Meanwhile, as I write this, three teams from the supposedly inferior AL and NL Central divisions are fighting to get to the championship round. Putting all my eggs into the Brewers basket…go Brew Crew!