ESPN’s 30 for 30 series has been great. The documentaries are insightful and provide a background view on some of the most important events in sports over the past 30 years. As a Chicago Cubs fan I was weary of whether or not I wanted to watch “Catching Hell” the 2003 NLCS has run through my head millions of times. I can better remember where I was for each game and how each turned out than for any other sporting event I have watched. As a Steelers fan you’d think that Super Bowl 45 would still haunt me. Sure the Steelers played horrible and it was hard to watch, but I still better remember the 2003 NLCS.
I was 14, a huge Cubs fan, vacationing with my family in Los Angeles, California. My Dad and I left Universal Studios early that day to go watch Game 6 of the NLCS. I was wearing my Mark Prior jersey (which still hangs proudly in my closet) and probably proclaimed 50 times that day that the Cubs were World Series bound.
The Cubs were up 3-0 when Juan Pierre hit a towering fly ball towards the left field crowd. Wrong place, wrong time.
“That could be huge.”
Steve Lyons statement directly after the Bartman play proved to be nothing short of the truth. After the Bartman play the Chicago Cubs not only lost their composure, but they also went on to lose the game and the series. For Cubs fans we all knew that Bartman had been taken out of the stadium for safety reasons and that due to death threats he had gone into hiding so to speak, but “Catching Hell” gave a chilling view of the “Friendly” Confines.
I was 14 and every sports show told me that it was Bartman’s fault and their was a period where I too blamed him, but I am smart enough to look back and see that it was nowhere near being his fault that the Cubs lost. I felt ashamed of being a Cub fan when a clip from the stadium showed Bartman being escorted to safety by security guards the following line struck me more than any other:
“Put a 12 gauge in his mouth and pull the trigger!”
Wow, I thought, the guy did what any fan would; he reached for a fly ball. Like I said before, wrong place, wrong time. Look at the play again. How many fans are reaching for the ball? At least 5-6. All of you other fans who reached for that ball should Thank God every night that it didn’t hit your hands.
If you didn’t get a chance to watch the Documentary attempt to find it on-demand or when it airs again. It’s worth the watch for any fan: (continue below for my take on the Bartman hate)
It hurt to watch the way my fellow Cubs fans treated Steve Bartman after the play; I don’t believe he did anything wrong. The game is reffered to as the Bartman game. Why isn’t it the Gonzales game? Alex Gonzales is the player who booted a tailor made double play ball that would have ended the inning.
The Dusty Baker game? Baker left Prior in probably too long and allowed him to give up the lead even though he had already thrown well over 120 pitches.
There are so many other things that went wrong. The Gonzales play messed up two outs; Bartman only, maybe, messed up one. Moises Alou stated in an interview a few years ago that he didn’t believe he would have made the catch anyway. If that’s true Alou here is my thought:
You don’t freak out, you walk back to left cool and collected. Therefore the fans don’t see it as a big deal, the players don’t get any doubt in their minds, and I like to think the Cubs go on to win.
I’ll be honest here; I didn’t finish watching the documentary yet. When I heard Kerry Wood’s home run was in the movie I just couldn’t bare to watch it again. I thought when Wood hit that home run in game 7 the Cubs were back in the driver seat. When Alou hit a 2-run homer the next inning to put the Cubs up 5-3 it was over in my mind. Little did I know the Marlins would come back and win that game and the World Series.
It hurts me to see how Cubs fans treated Steve Bartman; I hope that one day everyone else can stop blaming Bartman. If it were up to me Bartman would have a suite at Wrigley Field every home game to make up for the way he was treated in 2003. Hell, I’d have a suite for Bartman and a family of Goats.
I would like to finish up by praising Bartman for the way he handled the situation. He just stayed in his seat, he didn’t talk back to anyone. When he was hit with food and beer he just wiped it off and continued to watch the game. He was being yelled at and pummeled with concessions and he took it with a straight face. All the best to you Steve Bartman I hope that one day the rest of Cub Fandom will forgive you and understand that it was NOT your fault.