The Cubs awarded the infamous Steve Bartman with a World Series ring after they finally ended their 108-year long championship drought last season, beating the Cleveland Indians in 7 games in one of the best World Series ever played. This was the first time the Cubs had even sniffed a championship since 2003, with a squad that blew a 3-1 lead in the NLCS to the eventual champion Florida Marlins. Those who are familiar with Bartman and that series know what happened in the 8th inning of Game 6 at Wrigley Field. I could explain, but I’ll just add these videos for clarification.
Make what you want of that play. Whether or not it’s fan interference, you can’t pin the Cubs loss on Bartman. Even if Alou somehow made that spectacular catch, they still would’ve had four outs to go to reach the World Series. Bartman isn’t the reason Prior ended up letting Castillo reach base. He isn’t the reason the usually sure-handed Alex Gonzalez booted a double play ball. And he isn’t the reason both Prior and Kyle Farnsworth got absolutely shelled the rest of the inning. The Cubs still had another game to clinch the series, too, with Kerry Wood on the mound no less. But Bartman was the easy scapegoat, mostly because of how he looked. With the headphones on and the glasses, he was an easy target.
In truth, Bartman was a huge Cubs fan. He grew up playing baseball. He coached a little league team. And those headphones? He was listening to the game on the radio. Any fan can theoretically say “I totally would’ve gotten out of the way of that ball,” but the video shows that not only is Bartman reaching for it, but so is literally everyone else in the vicinity of the ball. And the way he was treated in the aftermath? Absolutely deplorable behavior from Cubs fans.
I’m surprised Cubs fans were even capable of this. I was lucky enough to go to Wrigley once, and the people there couldn’t have been nicer. I could honestly see this happening at Yankee Stadium or Fenway, and this is basically just an average game in Philly (shots fired at my South Jersey friends), but for this kind of reaction at Wrigley was shocking. But I guess when you haven’t won a World Series in nearly 100 years (at that point), and you’ve already kind of made up your mind that you’re about to move on to one, you aren’t going to make the most rational decisions when suddenly things aren’t going your way.
This guy had to go into witness protection. He received death threats. He was offered THOUSANDS of dollars to make appearances, do commercials, or sign autographs. Guy never took a penny. His life was turned into a living hell (the 30 for 30 on this is called Catching Hell, one of the best ones in the series 10/10 would recommend), and still has the class to respond with a statement like this?
“Although I do not consider myself worthy of such an honor, I am deeply moved and sincerely grateful to receive an official Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series Championship ring. I am fully aware of the historical significance and appreciate the symbolism the ring represents on multiple levels. My family and I will cherish it for generations. Most meaningful is the genuine outreach from the Ricketts family, on behalf of the Cubs organization and fans, signifying to me that I am welcomed back into the Cubs family and have their support going forward. I am relieved and hopeful that the saga of the 2003 foul ball incident surrounding my family and me is finally over.”
Anyone saying this guy doesn’t deserve a ring needs to shut the hell up and go find a puppy to yell at or something, because that must be what someone insensitive enough to think Bartman doesn’t deserve a ring do with their spare time. Was he on the field playing in games like Kris Bryant? No shit he wasn’t, but this guy carried the burden of 13 years worth of angry Cubs fans. There’s no stat category to describe how tough that must have been to do. And you’re crazy if you think some ring makes up for it, although it was a very kind gesture by the Cubs.
As someone who’s been fascinated by the Bartman saga since I was a little kid, and always believed that he did nothing wrong, I’m glad this guy can finally have some closure in a situation that went way too far.
P.S.- Bartman’s story confirms I would NEVER sit first-row for a playoff game. Waaaay too much responsibility. You should honestly have to tryout to sit in that spot for the playoffs, and I DH in intramural softball so I wouldn’t be too confident in my glove skills after a few beers. Give me a bat out there though, and it’s a different story.