He is the symbol of struggle and misery for Cubs fans all over the world. He has recieved numerous death threats. He is the single most hated man in Chicago today.
But Steve Bartman deserves absolutely none of this.
October 14, 2003: The Cubs are one victory away from winning the NLCS over the Florida Marlins and advancing to their first World Series since 1945. The entire city of Chicago was buzzing with nerves and excitement. This was perhaps the biggest game for the Cubs in more than 60 years.
In the top of the 8th inning, the Cubs were leading 3-0 and it looked like they were going to win. Louis Castillo hit a foul ball to left field.
Moises Alou was pursuing the ball and he was going to catch it, the Cubs would win the game, go to the World Series and win for the first time since 1908. The whole city of Chicago would rejoice, and the Cubs would be the champions of the world.
Then, a fan, Steve Bartman went for the ball, deflected it, and Alou didn’t make the catch.
The Cubs then went on a collapse, allowing 8 runs in the inning.
During the 8th inning collapse, there was an error on a ground ball by shortstop Alex Gonzalez, which, if he made the play, would have ended the inning with the Cubs up 3-1.
Nobody pointed to Gonzalez as the reason why the Cubs lost, though.
Bartman was escorted out of the stadium while getting bottles thrown at him and angry fans screaming at him.
The Cubs lost the game 8-3, and eventually, the series.
Bartman was now public enemy #1.
He didn’t deserve to, though.
First of all, any fan’s reaction when they see a ball going toward them is to try and catch it. Bartman wasn’t looking at Alou and whether Alou would catch it, his eyes were simply trained on the ball and he tried to catch it.
If you look at the footage of the play, you can see that about 4 fans go for the ball. Anyone of them could have touched the ball, it just happened to be Bartman.
The fact that the Cubs lost the game isn’t Bartman’s fault, it’s the Cubs’ fault.
Steve Bartman DIDN’T give up 8 runs in an inning.
Steve Bartman DIDN’T make an error on a play that could have ended the inning.
Steve Bartman DIDN’T lose game 7 to the Marlins.
Steve Bartman DIDN’T affect the Cubs’ chances to make it to the World Series.
Steve Bartman IS 0% responsible for the Cubs not making it to the World Series.
Even today, Bartman remains as the scapegoat to Cubs fans all over the world, people just over-exaggerated the play, and didn’t look at the big picture.
In fact, in 2008, the Associated Press quoted Alou saying, (In reference to the Bartman play) “You know what the funny thing is? I wouldn’t have caught it anyway.”
Even Alou knows that it wasn’t Bartman’s fault. He later said “It’s time to forgive the guy (Bartman) and move on.”
Following the incident, the Cubs released this statement:
“The Chicago Cubs would like to thank our fans for their tremendous outpouring of support this year. We are very grateful. We
would also like to remind everyone that games are decided by what happens on the playing field — not in the stands. It is inaccurate and unfair to suggest that an individual fan is responsible for the events that transpired in Game 6. He did what every fan who comes to the ballpark tries to do — catch a foul ball in the stands. That’s one of the things that makes baseball the special sport that it is. This was an exciting season and we’re looking forward to working towards an extended run of October baseball at Wrigley Field.”
Even the team itself recognizes that it’s not Bartman’s fault.
The city of Chicago won’t move on until the Cubs win a World Series. Fans just have to realize that the 2003 Chicago Cubs, not
Steve Bartman, are responsible for them not making the World Series.
As WBEZ Chicago Public Media puts it:
“Very often, we look to find scapegoats…
Steve Bartman was the perfect scapegoat.”
By Sam Brief