Should Steve Bartman forgive Cubs fans? I don’t think so.

Tribune photo by Scott Strazzante

Tribune photo by Scott Strazzante

Why the hell do I know Steve Bartman’s name?

Seriously. Why is Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS commonly referred to as “The Bartman Game”? Why is Bartman a household name?

How many people can even name the team who won Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS (and Game 7 and that year’s World Series)? I bet more can name Bartman than the Marlins.

The fact that we know Bartman’s name is disgusting. The fact that anyone gave him even the tiniest sliver of blame for the events of Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS is a clear sign that there are more stupid people than intelligent people in this country.

Before Luis Castillo hit a foul pop to left field (that was not an easy play), the Cubs were leading 3-1 in the 8th with 1 out.

After the “Bartman foul pop”, the Cubs were leading 3-1 in the 8th with 1 out.

Man, I can really see how Steve Bartman affected the game so negatively! Remember when Bartman let up 8 runs? Remember when Bartman did not have a reliever ready in the 8th inning? Remember when Bartman booted a potential inning ending double play ball? Remember when Bartman let up a bases clearing double to a career backup infielder?

Of course you don’t because he didn’t. In a game with tons of legit scapegoats, Bartman took the blame because he (and half of the fans along the left field line) leaned in to catch a foul pop.

The Cubs were up 3 games to 1 in the series had a chance to clinch Game 5 in Miami and have a rested and ready Mark Prior and Kerry Wood for the World Series. They lost Game 5 when Josh Beckett tossed a complete game shutout. OK fine, the party came back to Wrigley.

Prior was dealing and took a 3-0 lead into the 8th. Facing the lineup for the fourth time, manager Dusty Baker should have had someone warm, just in case. He didn’t. With just 5 outs needed, Juan Pierre doubled. Then, after the Bartman pop up, Castillo walked.

When Pudge Rodriguez singled to make it 3-1, it was clear that Prior was vulnerable and a reliever was needed. He stayed in. Miguel Cabrera hit a grounder to Alex Gonzalez that may have been 2 but would have been at least one out. He booted it. Die hard baseball fans remember that. The rest of the planet remembers Bartman.

Still no reliever from Dusty Baker. Flashback to 2002. Dusty Baker was managing the Giants in the World Series and yanked Russ Ortiz out of the game too early and the Giants bullpen collapsed in Game 6 and the Angels took the game. Perhaps he was gunshy to pull Prior out.

Derrek Lee then tied the game with a double and Baker relieved Prior, allowing him to wither on the mound with questionable control and three very hard hit balls. Kyle Farnsworth came on and coughed up the lead, allowed Mike Mordecai to clear the bases with a double and by the time the carnage was over, the Cubs lost 8-3.

In Game 7, where presumably Steve Bartman was not in attendance, the Cubs took a 5-3 lead in the third before again collapsing and losing the pennant with Kerry Wood getting shellacked.

YES Network

YES Network

Keeping all of that in mind, remind me why Steve Bartman in left field is given even the tiniest of sliver of blame for this game?

The fact that Bartman’s name became public was the act of bitter and petty Cub fans and radio personalities looking to point a finger. There were plenty of culprits to blame. Dusty Baker should have received the lions share. Prior and Gonzalez should have taken their lumps.  But no! Let’s pick on the slight guy with glasses and headphones.

If he was a big shirtless dude with his face painted and holding two beers, would he have been a scapegoat? Or was the image of a little nerdy guy an easier target than million dollar players wetting the bed on the field?

It is one thing to think that fan rituals help your team. Waving the right towel, or sitting in the right seat or wearing the correct cap are all nice feelings even if they don’t really change anything. But to blame a fan for doing something that any other fan would do and remove the blame of the actual players is insane.

His name became public and his life became a living hell. It is one thing to have fans boo a player or make them a bigger scapegoat than they really are. (The morons who blamed Bill Buckner for 1986 come to mind.) But at least Buckner was a player, a public figure, and was blamed for his short comings on the field. Bartman was an anonymous face in the crowd who became the newest villain in the Billy Goat nonsense.

Bartman issued an apology right away. He declines interviews and despite being a lifelong Cubs fan, has not returned to Wrigley. The fans treatment of Bartman was inexcusable, with Governer Rod Blagojevich kidding that he should go into the witness protection program. He needed police protection around his house as people began to blame him for the NLCS failure. Evidently his trying to catch a foul ball cost the Cubs 3 games.

So now the Cubs are doing well and unlike 2007 and 2008, they managed to make it past the Division Series. And with the Cubs in the NLCS, Bartman’s name is back in the news. And with it comes a common and forehead slapping trend:




There are more of these than I can count. #ForgiveBartman is a hashtag floating around.

Forgive him? For what? Isn’t this sentiment, no matter what good intentions they have, ass backwards?

It was Cub fans who did the borderline unforgivable and ruin the life of one of their own. It was Cub fans who decided to bully a fan instead of blaming the millionaire players on the field. It was Cub fans who made his name public and known to more people than the Cy Young and MVP candidates who failed that night and the manager who made it two straight years of bullpen bungling in a clinching game.

Should it say #ForgiveUSBartman ? Shouldn’t every single Cub fan who blamed Bartman even for an hour be begging Steve Bartman for forgiveness. Every commentator who tried to tie in his meaningless action to a team’s 3 game collapse should grovel at his feet.

Yeah he should be welcomed back to Wrigley because he never did anything to warrant being shunned.

There should be forgiveness in the Steve Bartman situation, but only FROM Bartman himself. And if decided not to, who can blame him?

He has been blamed too much already.

The Yankees are turning back the clock to 2005

Seriously, is it 2005 again?
Is Brokeback Mountain playing in the theaters?
Is Hollaback Girl popular again?
Is Lost a new show?

Because if you looked at the moves the Yankees have been making, you’d think the clock was turned back 6 years.

I know losing the 2005 Division Series to the Angels must have been painful, but the Yankees look like they haven’t gotten over it!

The Yankees need pitching depth and maybe some outfield help.

So bring in Mark Prior… who actually pitched 166 2/3 innings in 2005 and was still an ace.

Bring in Justin Duchscherer… who made the 2005 All Star team

Bring in Andruw Jones…who hit 51 homers, won a Gold Glove and was the MVP runner up in 2005.

And, most impressively, bring in Bartolo Colon… who won the AL Cy Young in 2005.

Seriously, 6 years ago these moves would have made people scream “It isn’t fair! The Yankees get ALL the superstars.”

In 2011, these moves look like what the Pirates would do followed by the phrase “They are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.”

Let’s review how they’ve looked since 2005.

Prior threw just 43 2/3 innings for the Cubs in 2006. He hasn’t thrown a pitch in a Major League game since. The Yankees are hoping the last 4 years of not pitching will make him stronger.

Duchscherer made the All Star team again in 2008, but has appeared in only 5 games in the last two seasons.

Jones has seen his stats deteriorate since 2005, hitting the low of his dreadful ’08 season with the Dodgers where he was cut after being a sub .160 hitter. The Yankees will be his fifth team in the last 5 seasons.

Colon hasn’t thrown 100 innings in a season since the 2005 campaign. He left the 2008 Red Sox somewhat unexpectedly to handle “personal matters.” He resurfaced in 2009 with the White Sox but missed the entire 2010 season. Fat, broken down and having personal matters is a great combination for New York.

Also turning back to 2005 is Brian Cashman not having control of the team. The bizarre public contract negotiations with Derek Jeter. The conflicting stories about the Cliff Lee pursuit. (Did he meet with him or what?) His not wanting Soriano and publicly trashing the signing in the press conference.

It all seems like the Yankee brass is making moves over Cashman’s head. And what other kind of move seems more Steinbrenner like than bringing in big names people have heard of, even if the move doesn’t really make sense of help the team.

The team is old and has injury issues. Better bring in a bunch of guys who have combined to miss 6 entire seasons recently!

Ironically do you know who was ALSO good in 2005?
Cliff Lee.

I’m just saying.

Cue up Hollaback Girl!

(I still don’t know what a Hollaback Girl is.)

Justin Duchscherer has been courted by the Yankees but not signed yet.
The point still stands

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