Blaming Bartman

 

A memory Cubs fans would like to forget.

You know why I hate Kerry Collins? Because Kerry Collins horrible play led to the New York Giants losing Super Bowl 34 to the Baltimore Ravens.

When you look up horrible in the dictionary you see a picture of Collins throwing the ball directly into the teeth of the Ravens D over and over and over again (next to him would be a picture of Jason Sehorn getting beaten by Brandon Stokley but I digress.). That was probably the second worst sports day of my life losing the Super Bowl to Baltimore while living in Baltimore (the first is of course 2004… No comment). I will never forgive Kerry Collins ever in life for that performance and will probably hate him until the day I die. I still think Danny Kanell should’ve been our starter… seriously.

That is the diatribe of a sports fan. We remember the bad moments just as much as we remember the good ones. We remember the goats as much as we do the heroes and we never let them live it down. It’s kind if crazy to place blame on a million dollar athlete for having a bad day on certain occasions when we’ve messed up our share of orders and tasks at our jobs. However, sports is our get away. When it’s great we love it but when it’s bad it becomes another problem in our life and we immediately look for someone to place the blame on.

Some athletes deserve it whether it Collins for the Super Bowl, Bill Buckner for the 1986 World Series or Chris Webber in the 1993 national championship. In these situations you can point at the athlete in question and place blame on him for what went wrong because his error is the main reason for the loss.

Prior's performance after the Bartman incident ultimately cost the Cubs.

It’s ok for an athlete, it comes with the territory. But sometimes blame is placed on some entity when it wasn’t their fault to begin with.

I present to you Steve Bartman.

If you don’t know this story then you must either hate sports or live in Siberia. Bartman is the man who in the eighth inning of game 6 of the 2003 NLDS reached for a foul ball that was in play and cost the Cubs an out that would’ve gotten them and pitcher Mark Prior out of a jam and placed them closer to a berth in the World Series.

To most people that watch sports his interference with that ball cost the Cubs the possibility of ending their miserable stretch without a World Series title an continued “The curse of the Billy Goat” and every other fable associated with their 103 years of futility.

This is silly.

Bartman is not an athlete. He did not throw one pitch, hit one ball, make one error. He didn’t give up 8 unanswered runs in that eighth inning, did not blow a lead in game 7, nothing. Sammy Sosa’s bat went cold. Cubs relievers couldn’t get me out if they tried, nothing went right at all on the field in those two lonely nights at Wrigley in the fall of 2003.

Steve Bartman had nothing to do with any of it.

This is similar to the Orioles fans squabbles about how Jeffrey Maier and his interference of Derek Jeter’s home run ball in game 1 of the 1996 ALCS changed the fortunes of that franchise. Was it that or the fact that your team folded at home after those two games at Yankee Stadium. O’s fans forget that they won game 2 and still earned a split in the Bronx… now what’s your team’s excuse?

The same goes for Bartman. He is the scapegoat for a team that choked away a shot at making the World Series and had a serious shot at winning it. They had a healthy Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, a potent lineup with Sammy Sosa in his prime and a 3-2 series lead. Prior was rolling along and then that incident happened and I’m supposed to believe that Bartman was reason that the Cubs bullpen imploded and they were helpless to do anything about it? No.

Unfortunately the fans of those lovable losers in Chicago’s north side feel differently.

Sammy Sosa went AWOL when the Cubs needed him.

Bartman has become his own fable so to speak. No one knows exactly where he is. Some say he moved to Florida, some say he’s hiding out in Chicago somewhere, maybe he’s in Thailand partying with Tupac and Elvis.

After he reached for that foul ball he was booted out of Wrigley, cursed at by fans, threatened to be killed, feared for his life and hasn’t been able to live a normal life since. Advertisers have reached out to him to do commercials and have offered him upwards of six figures to do so. He’s turned them all down because he’s over it and wants it to go away. I don’t blame him.

He just did what tons of fans do on any given weekday or night at the ballyard and has faced hell for it ever since. Bartman is in exile for being an overzealous fan and being blamed for the failures of a franchise. I don’t know what’s more sad, that or the fact that the Cubs still have to pay Alfonso Soriano $18 million for a few more years.

Since that night in 2003 the Cubs have blown up the “Bartman Ball” (really?) and are still looking for a championship to call their own. After another disappointing season they’ve turned to Theo Epstein to right their ship. Epstein turned the hell bitten Red Sox into a winner and looks like the man for the job in Chicago.

Whatever he does hopefully he can put a winning team on the field and lead the Cubs to a title so that their fans can relax and so that Steve Bartman can breathe easily.

Bartman has been taking unfair heat for the Cubs failure of 2003. ESPN did a documentary on it, Moises Alou is still heated about that ball and Cubs fans still hate the guy.

Just remember that Prior and the bullpen could’ve gotten outs, Sosa and company could’ve gotten hits and the actual players for the Cubs still could’ve won that game or game 7. It’s not Bartman’s fault nor has it ever been.

I have reason to hate Kerry Collins. If he didn’t crap the bed then the Giants would’ve beaten Baltimore in Super Bowl 34. Cubs fans should follow suit and blame the team that let it get away on the field and not the guy that couldn’t catch a foul ball in the stands.

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