By In Stuff

A Ring for Bartman

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One hundred and eight years of not winning a World Series leaves behind a lot of errands to run, and it seems like the Chicago Cubs have spent the entire season running them. Every other day, it feels ike, they’re raising a pennant, visiting the White House again, giving out another World Series ring, celebrating anew.

You can’t blame them, of course. We all know how many emails pile up when we’re on vacation for just a week, so 108 years … yes, there are things to do. Still, time does move on, and even the best parties end, and the Cubs themselves are trying to recapture the magic in a year when the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros seem to have all stolen of their good mojo.

So, yes, it did seem a bit wearying that on the day of the trade deadline — a day when the Dodgers got even better — that the Cubs were busy announcing that they had given out another World Series ring.

But this one was different. This one was for Steve Bartman.

I would say that at least once a month for the last 14 years, I have thought about Steve Bartman, which is strange because I am not from Chicago, and certainly did not grow up a Cubs fan. His story haunted me in ways that are hard to describe. Two days after he reached up for a foul ball like anyone would, I wrote one of the angrier columns of my days at The Kansas City Star under the headline: “Cubs fans should be ashamed.”

“You would have reached for the ball.

Oh yeah. You can deny it. You can say that you would have thought quick, moved out of the way, sacrificed your body, whatever. You would have reached for the ball. I would have reached for the ball. Everybody would have reached for the ball. The last couple of days, it seems like the sports world has gone mad. Newspapers, broadcasters, fans, talk-show hosts, politicians, everybody goes after one poor lifetime Cubs fan who made the single mistake of being human and reaching up for a baseball hit at him.

What an American disgrace.”

That was 2003, a long time ago, but that anger I felt then has never quite faded away. It’s difficult to quite recapture the madness of that time. The Cubs were famously five outs away from the World Series when the ball was hit toward Bartman, who was sitting in the left field stands. Chicago’s Moises Alou thought he had a shot at it, he leaped up, Bartman (and, really, everyone sitting around him) reached for the ball. Bartman deflected it. Alou was so furious he threw his glove and screamed.

The Cubs fell apart — errors, intentional walks, terrible pitching, etc.

And everyone blamed Bartman.

Everyone. It was the nastiest reaction imaginable. The television cameras just hovered around Steve Bartman. Hs supposedly had to stay in a Cubs office for his own safety. And then came the reaction, the deranged reaction. Remember Rod Blagojevich? He was governor of Illinois then — this was before he was impeached and disbarred and arrested and sentenced to prison — and he came out with a statement: “Nobody can justify any kind of threat to someone who does something stupid like reach for that ball.”

Cubs manager Dusty Baker seemed to blame Bartman after the game (“I’ve never understood why fans do that, because if you’re a fan of a team you try to get out of the way.”) Florida Governor Jeb Bush offered Bartman asylum in Florida. Jimmy Kimmel sent a pizza to Bartman’s house. A few sports columnists across America called Bartman the idiot Cubs fan, a goof, a nerd, Captain Oblivious, a meddler, a jerk. Fans were even harsher. People dressed up like Steve for Halloween; and some were booed for doing so. Bartman’s address was posted in various places. He and his family were hounded. Threats. Insults. Bartman basically went into hiding.

“I’m heartbroken,” Bartman wrote in a statement. He was a lifelong Cubs fan who had come to the game to see his team finally win, that’s all. But the fury was all-consuming.

The passions we bring to sports, they’re mostly good. These games jolt us out of the dull hum of every day life, they give us a reason beyond — outside of our families, our friends, our jobs, our faith, our neighborhoods — to feel great joy, to connect with the people around us, and, sure, to feel relatively harmless rage. Almost as often as I think about Bartman, I think about that scene in The Simpsons’ “Homer at the Bat” when Bart and Lisa taunt Darryl Strawberry.

“Children,” Marge says, “that’s not very nice.”

“Mom,” Lisa says, “they’re professional athletes. They’re used to this. It rolls right off their backs.”

And then there’s a shot of Darryl Strawberry in the outfield, a single tear rolling down his face.

We enjoy throwing our fury into games because we believe that it is benign, safe, there are no consequences, I don’t really HATE John Elway for tearing up my Cleveland Browns and my childhood, not really, not in the bold and ugly sense of that word. I even invented a different word for it — Clemenate (after the much-reviled Roger Clemens) which is “to hate an athlete in an entirely healthy, fun sports way.”

But the story of Steve Bartman is a reminder that in sports, the rage, the hunger, the hatred isn’t always healthy or fun.

There were occasional efforts after the insanity calmed down to reach out to Steve Bartman, but even these were often clunky. Dusty Baker gave an interview before the 2004 season; Dusty is a good person, and I think he felt badly about what had happened to Bartman. I also think Dusty felt remorse for the small role he had played in it. He wanted to make ammends.

“I’d like to win and put him in the parade with us,” Baker said. “Exonerate him for life.”

I feel sure that Dusty said that out of kindness … but it only made things worse. Exonerate him? For what? For being a Cubs fan? For doing what any fan would do when a baseball is hit at them?

But that indeed was one theme of the Cubs’ halting effort the last 14 years to finally win a World Series. Winning one, we were assured, would silence the ghosts, it would break the curse, it would satisfy the billy goat and, yes, it would exonerate Steve Bartman.

Monday, Steve Bartman was given a Cubs World Series ring. He did not make a public appearance to accept it. He instead released a beautiful and haunting little statement, one that expressed his gratitude … and one that also showed the scars of the last 14 years.

“My family and I will cherish it for generations,” he wrote of the ring. “Most meaningful is the genuine outreach from the Ricketts family, on behalf of the Cubs organization and fans, signifying 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.”

That last sentence — “relieved and hopeful that the saga … is finally over” — chill me to the core. You read that statement and you understand just how hard it has been.

You know, in the hours after the Cubs lost that series, Kerry Wood tried to take the blame. He started Game 7 and he didn’t have it. First inning, he gave up a triple, a walk and a homer. The Cubs came back to take a 5-3 lead, but in the fifth he gave up three more runs with a couple of walks and double and a single. In all he gave up seven runs in one of his worst outings of the season.

“I choked,” he told reporters. “That’s the bottom line. I let the team and the organization and the city of Chicago down.”

But for some reason, nobody ever really blamed Kerry Wood, not any more than anyone else. No pizzas were sent to his house, no Governors talked about him, nobody called him an idiot in the papers, no fans mockingly dressed up like him for Halloween.

I guess maybe this gets at why I think about Steve Bartman so often. Heroes … goats … parades … blame … it’s all so capricious. Steve Bartman didn’t ask for any of this. He didn’t want any of this. He didn’t deserve any of this. Sure: He could have cashed in on this moment. He could have written a book or two. He could have made appearances, become a minor celebrity. I think a lot of people would have. But he had no interest in any of that. He just wanted to go on and live a quiet life with his family. And it clearly hasn’t been easy.

All because someone hit a foul ball toward him during a game and,  just like I would have, he reached up to catch it.

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58 Responses to A Ring for Bartman

  1. invitro says:

    “Everybody would have reached for the ball.” — This is such utter bullshit. I would not have reached for the ball. I see fans in every game, every day not reach for balls on the edge of the field. I don’t see how anyone, especially someone who has seen as many baseball games as Joe has, can say something so incredibly stupid.

    • Exodor says:

      I’m suspicious this comment was left as an example of the ugliness Joe discussed.

      • Matt says:

        He’s the same dude that wondered the other day what makes Jessica Mendoza qualified to cover baseball. He’s a loser troll. Ignore him.

      • Pat says:

        Hah; you must be new here. The original commenter has the charming quality of having exactly the worst opinion on every single subject (except, this season, in his good fortune of being an Astros fan).

    • Tim says:

      I would argue that in the wake of the reaction to Bartman and the dominoes that fell afterwards, fans became a lot more cognizant of not reaching into the field of play. Bartman did not extend his arm extensively out and as Joe stated, he was surrounded by several others doing the same. He happened to be the poor soul whose life was threatened and affected due to an instinctual reaction.

    • SDG says:

      Oh come on. You don’t see fans at every game with gloves, hoping a foul ball or a home run comes their way?

    • Russell Dorman says:

      Haha, sometimes Joe plays you idiots like a fiddle.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      Invitro,

      Maybe not everybody, but a lot would, especially if they thought the ball was out of play anyway. Regardless of anything else, your comment is irrelevant because the issue is not really whether or not Bartman should have reached for the ball, but whether (1) he was responsible for the Cubs losing, and (2) even if he was, whether his treatment was appropriate. Getting steamed over a comment that may or may not have been correct seems completely out of proportion because you damn well that’s not really the point of the article.

    • KHAZAD says:

      Not reaching for the ball in the stands only really became a thing AFTER Bartman. Going for the ball that reached the stands was pretty standard (Hell, sometimes for one that did not quite reach the stands) Even now I notice fans going after a ball one of their own players is trying to catch more often than not. It is only because of the Bartman thing that it doesn’t happen every time.

      • Glen says:

        100% correct

      • Marc Schneider says:

        Last year, IIRC, Joey Votto, got into it with a fan in Cincinnati who had got in his way of a foul ball. I can’t remember if the fan actually reached onto the field or just didn’t get out of the way when Votto was trying to catch the ball.

    • Lex says:

      Perfectly typical a-hole bs comment from invitro – a guy who always bats a 1000 in this regard.

  2. Tim says:

    I’ve often wondered if Bartman had been a big, strapping “man’s man”, how different the treatment would have been. It was a case of a city and nation turning into a collective schoolyard bully.

    • Matt says:

      Nation? Pretty sure the entire country other than Cubs fans was behind Bartman from the get go.

      But yea, I know what you mean. His non reaction is basically what fueled the fire for Cubs fans.

      • SDG says:

        The entire nation eventually defended Bartman, but initially he was like any private citizen who becomes a national laughingstock for a week. Then there was a backlash because people saw how we were taking this too far to be fun.

        Something that doesn’t really get mentioned in the Steve Bartman story is how the modern world makes pile-ons so much bigger and longer and they never really go away. It would be even worse today, with social media.

    • SDG says:

      One thing I’ve always wondered – Jeffrey Maier did the same thing, in a high-leverage postseason game. It also got tons of media attention, since it involved the Yankees and Baseball Jesus himself hitting the ball.

      Yet Maier was never treated badly by Os fans. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great we didn’t treat a child the way we treated Steve Bartman. I’m just not sure why. Maier happened earlier, so it’s not like you can say fans learned their lesson. It just seems so arbitrary.

      • Marc Schneider says:

        Well, O’s fans aren’t as numerous or vociferous as Cub fans. What Maier did helped his team and I think most people blamed the umpire more than Maier.

        I agree with one of the previous comments. It was mostly Cub fans that attacked Bartman; the rest of the country may have thought it was funny, but was otherwise indifferent. It was Chicago that went nuts.

      • Hoosier Native says:

        It’s because (A) Maier was a Yankees fan, (b) it happened in New York, and (C) his interference helped the Yankees by turning either a double or an out (Tarasco swears he would have caught the ball) into a home run.

  3. Ray C says:

    Also, Bill Buckner took the heat for Rich Gedman’s passed ball (that was called a wild pitch by Bob Stanley) in 1986.

    • SDG says:

      That’s different. That’s part of the game. Buckner is a professional baseball player. That means that if he makes a mistake in a high-leverage situation, that’s what he’ll be remembered for. Just like Mitch Williams or Mickey Owen or going all the way back to Fred Merkle. Of course, fans should leave it on the field, and I probably don’t need to say harassing him in his private life is never acceptable, but being mocked and booed and having your otherwise solid career defined by one ground ball is part of the game. And honestly, he still made good money and he’s still involved in baseball and Red Sox Nation got over it and now he has a nice little side business touring with Mookie Wilson. (Just like Mitch Williams et al. I don’t think there are any instances of this sort of thing actually ruining a player’s life).

      Bartman was a private citizen behaving like a good fan is supposed to. He was treated horribly.

  4. Richard says:

    Don’t forget Alex Gonzalez’ error on an easy ground ball that could have ended that inning with a double play.

  5. feitcanwrite says:

    I still maintain that even if Bartman stayed home that night, there is no way that Alou – or Jesus H. Jeter himself – makes that catch.

  6. Matt says:

    Keith Law retweeted someone that said “If Moises Alou doesn’t have a temper tantrum, no one knows who Steve Bartman is.”

  7. Frank says:

    Joe, thank you for this. How many hundreds of times a season do we see a ballplayer reach into the stands for a ball and have to fight off competition from a fan wearing the same jersey? How many times do we hear losing teams, in all sports, asked about a particular play, say that no one play decided the game? I hope Mr. Bartman enjoys his ring in the rest of a long life, in good health, proud to be a Cubs fan. And congratulations to the Cubs for having fans as loyal as Mr. Bartman, even fans who endure harassment and death threats, to cheer on their beloved Cubbies.

    • SDG says:

      I agree. I think a part of this whole unfortunate thing is how much our culture makes fandom (in sports, movies, music, whatever) such a part of their identity. Publicly hating and harassing Bartman was a way to brag you were a Cubs fan. And that’s why the Cubs org never did the one thing they should have at the time – issued a formal statement (ideally by Baker or Alou in front of a camera) that Bartman did nothing wrong and everyone should lay off.

      But they didn’t do that, not because they actually wanted this innocent person harassed, but by this idiot believe that being a huge asshole means you care the most. That you’re the most passionate and hardcore fan. The Cubs organization and the media loved telling the idiotic curse story more than treating Steve Bartman like a person, so they piled on. It would have been seen as weak to do anythig else, and that’s why it got so out of hand.

      • Marc Schneider says:

        SDG, that’s a great point. Today, so many fans think of their fandom as a trait to be proud of, as if it shows something about their character to be a loyal fan of some team and to go beyond the bounds of rationality in cheering that team on. As you say, it becomes part of, if not the entirety of, their identity.

      • Dan says:

        Agree with your point about fandom. Not sure I agree the Cubs fed the frenzy. They *did* put out a statement, reading in part: “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.” Pretty sure they put that out before Game 7, because it went on to hope for further success in the playoffs.

  8. Rich says:

    Joe and readers,

    The ring to Bartman is evidence that the Cub’s “get it” (Theo, did you have anything to do with this? If so, not surprised). More power to dignified humanity.

    Cub’s are classy. Bartman’s response was classy. Classiness usually begets more classiness.

  9. Bryan says:

    1993 – Gunter Parche
    1994 – Shane Stant
    1995 – Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols
    1996 – Eric Robert Rudolph
    1999 – Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold
    2004 – John Green
    *
    The lesson as always is that the most important thing is whether or not your name is used in the name of the incident. To save people the bother of googling.
    1993 – stabbed Monica Seles
    1994 – hit Nancy Kerrigan’s knee with a steel baton
    1995 – Oklahoma City bombing
    1996 – Atlanta Olympic bombing
    1999 – Columbine massacre
    2004 – threw the beer at The Malice in the Palace
    *
    Jeff Gillooly, Richard Jewell and Ron Artest are names far more likely to make someone think of one of those incidents. Steve Bartman’s name is strongly associated with the incident. Jeremy Giambi failing to slide is a name way less associated with “The Flip”. Justin Timberlake ripping off a woman’s top is a name way less associated with “Nipple gate”. Paula Jones is a name far less associated with Bill Clinton than Monica Lewinsky.
    *
    Rich Garcia blows a crucial call in a playoff game, well eventually a crucial call, it tied the game in the bottom of the 8th of Game 1, Jeffrey Maier is probably the 2nd most famous fan interference to Steve Bartman, Derek Jeter starts his post-season legacy but who remembers the umpire that blows the call? Maier reaches onto the field of play and Garcia is in a great position to make the call but blows it.
    *
    Don Denkinger blows a crucial call in a playoff game, well eventually a crucial call, that was the first batter in the bottom of 9th and St. Louis can still protect a 1-0 lead or win Game 7 which would have made the call very forgettable. Did Denkinger get a World Series ring in 2006?

    • SDG says:

      I’m not sure what your point is. The Cubs organization was a reason why Bartman was treated horribly, and they apologized on behalf of the organization. That is what institutions do, sometimes. It’s not about the game or the ring or anyone else. It’s an apology in a way that will publicly resonate.

      A few months ago, Adam Jones was called the n-word at Fenway. When the Os played there again, the crowd gave him a standing ovation. Not because they wanted his team to win or because they liked him as a player, but to apologize on behalf of the organization they, by being in the stands, represent. It was a nice gesture and the right thing to do.

      • Bryan says:

        The organization has little sway, if the Cubs lose the Wild Card game or miss the playoffs the fans are more likely to blame Miguel Montero for costing the teams a few games because of actions by the organization. But mob mentality is not something an organization can control.
        *
        A bunch of players and officials along with a handful of fans have received death threats based on their (in-)actions in sporting events. Perspective is a huge factor, Bobby Clarke breaking Valeri Kharlamov’s leg during the Summit Series probably makes Top 10 lists in Russia as the worst action by a player during a sporting event. While Ivan Edeshko’s Golden Pass to win the 1972 Gold Medal in Men’s Basketball makes the list of 10 greatest plays.
        *
        Mark Henderson has far more impact on a game than Steve Bartman and doesn’t do something the guy right beside him is also trying to do. But it’s all about perspective so if you visit Gilette Stadium you can see a display that includes the Snowplow that Henderson drove onto the field which let everyone know back in 1982 that the Patriots cared a lot more about winning than the rule book.
        *
        Have Dolphin fans issued death threats to Henderson? Possibly, but it’s the Snowplow Game not the Henderson Game and Henderson was in prison and on work release at the time of the incident and his name was largely forgotten by the time he was a free man.
        *
        Did Cubs fans issue death threats to Steve Bartman? Yes. Maple Leaf fans to Kerry Fraser? Yes. Buffalo fans to Phil Luckett, Bill McCreary and Chris Ford? Yes. The difference between Bartman and Fraser in Game 6 of the Championship semi-finals is that their names are directly attached to the events and there is nothing the organizations can do to decide how angry fans are and whether some people take it to the extreme of death threats.
        *
        Music City Miracle, No Goal and ending Bob Lanier’s college career 2 games early are those Buffalo “villains” along with Scott Norwood who like Bartman and Fraser have their names strongly associated with the incident. Chris Ford is currently a coaching consultant for the Knicks which suggests he’s getting karmic balance 37 years after taking out Lanier.
        *
        Kerry Fraser with an immense amount of national (Canada) media attention and Steve Bartman with an immense amount of national (US) media attention is not the fault of the Leafs or Cubs organization. It’s the fault of TSN/ESPN, CBC/Fox, CTV/NBC, Toronto Star/Chicago Tribune and so on.
        *
        Ask Chris Ford about Bob Lanier and it will most likely be the first time someone brought it up to him in years, ask Kerry Fraser about Wayne Gretzky’s high stick and it will most likely be the first time someone brought it up to him in days. People may be seeking absolution for their own actions if Bartman gets a Ring, Kerry Fraser gets a Ring or if Bob Lanier shakes Chris Ford’s hand and smiles but their own actions are their own responsibility. Everyone who directed vitriol or worse at Bartman did so because they chose to do so, not because of the Cubs organization.

        • Mr Fresh says:

          Again.. what’s your point? Are you saying the Cubs shouldn’t have given Bartman the ring because it wasn’t their fault he was ostracized to begin with?

          As someone else said… it was classy and it made a guy and his family feel a little better. I think we need a more of that in this world.

          • Bryan says:

            I really don’t care who gives a ring to who. If the 2001 Ravens wanted to give a Ring to the Mayor of Cleveland it would have been up to Michael White if that was a good idea or not. Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore on the field when the Red Sox win is the least classy celebration by an organization.
            Riots are the least classy celebrations by fans and are so much worse.
            *
            I don’t have a point because having a point would require taking the position that people should think a certain way. I just find the amount of attention focused on Steve Bartman to be comical and list some names of “fans” who had far more impact on sporting events and then even added in some of the worst individuals of the last 25 years to potentially inspire people to ponder why Bartman is a “famous villain” while Eric Robert Rudolph is a difficult Jeopardy question.

  10. Otis says:

    The one comment I can’t stand is when someone (and Joe is guilty of this in his article) says “anyone would have done what he did” – This is just completely wrong. Watch any Yankee game, Red Sox game, etc. If a Yankee is trying to catch a ball in Yankee Stadium, fans not only don’t try to catch it, but they get out of the way. Same for the Red Sox in Fenway. And I suspect same for most Cub fans in Wrigley Field.

    There are a lot of reasons to defend Bartman or feel empathy for how he has been treated. But let’s not go so far as to call him blameless. He screwed up. The fact that he got all of the blame and Gonzalez, Wood, etc., got relatively little is another issue altogether.

    • SDG says:

      Really? 1996 ALCS. Yankee Stadium. Jeffrey Maier. Changed the outcome of the game.

    • Matt says:

      Bartman did not screw up. Look where he’s sitting. He’s sitting in seats that are rising as they go back towards the foul pole. Furthermore, EVERYONE ELSE IN THE AREA is doing the same thing. He just happens to be the guy that touched the ball. On top of that, the ball is over the seats and Bartman did not try to reach into Alou’s territory. Alou however did reach into the stands to try to catch the ball.

      You do know the Cubs gave up 8 runs in that inning right? To blame this loss on a fan is just LOL bad. And it wasn’t even the deciding game. It was Game 6.

      People like you are the reason the Cubs have to give a guy like Bartman a ring.

    • Glen says:

      They do that NOW. They do that now because of Steve Bartman.

    • Pat says:

      Well, I wouldna done it—because I can’t afford tickets for seats that close to the field.

      But Joe’s absolutely right. Watch enough games and you’ll see a ball hit by the away team right at the edge of the field eventually… and every time, you’ll see fans in the seats reaching for it under the glove of their own team’s fielder. I see it all the time.

      Most of the time, the fielder gets it anyway, it’s not a playoff game, and the fan doesn’t get death threats. I think that’s the important part of the story.

      • Pat says:

        Case in point: Yesterday’s game at Fenway between the Red Sox and Rays:

        https://www.mlb.com/video/cg-tbbos-9817/c-1821380383

        Top of the fourth, one on, no outs, and a Rays hitter smacks one high in the air down the right field line. Mookie Betts ranges over, makes the catch pretty easily on the edge of the stands.

        And EVERYONE in the stands who’s anywhere near it is trying to catch the ball. Slow-motion’s actually useful to see it. The people in the front row, they have to know they’re close to the field of play—they’ve been sitting in the front row all day. Still, they’re eyes aren’t on the fielder trying to make the play; their eyes are on the ball, and they’re all trying to catch it.

        Because, as Joe said, anyone would have done what they, and Steve Bartman, did.

  11. Ravenswood 2003 says:

    “Heroes … goats … parades … blame … it’s all so capricious.”

    Just wanted to let you know I read through to the end, and I see what you did there.

  12. Michael Williams says:

    Not the point of this article, but a simple solution, that would have the “side” benefit of protecting people from getting killed by line drive foul balls: extend the nets all the way down to the foul poles, and in the outfield, make the seating in such a way that it is literally impossible for fans in the first row of seats to actually reach over and interfere with a ball in play. Yeah, yeah, I know this won’t happen due to the greed of the owners.

    • Steve says:

      I have a long held theory that Cubs fans will eventually and secretly hate winning the series. They revel in the “Lovable Losers”. They list their bad breaks and oh so close seasons like badges of honor. Now, with the trophy, what’s special about them or their team? The glory was in the suffering. Wrigley has lights. You can’t sit on the rooves for free. And now you won a series. THAT is why Bartman is forgiven. He is a symbol of what they really loved about being a Cubs fan.

  13. Pete says:

    My buddy was sitting in the row behind Bartman…he and his dad both stood up and reached towards the ball. My pal is an athlete…he’s a life long Cubs fan…he knows when a ball is worth reaching for…and he reached.
    Chicago fans were huge dicks to Bartman…I’m glad he’s got his ring.
    I wonder if Alex Gonzalez gets the same treatment in Chicago?

  14. Vidor says:

    Bartman should have refused the ring and told the Cubs to go screw themselves. It was disgraceful, what the Cubs did to him. Forget a ring–Baker and Alou should apologize.

  15. KHAZAD says:

    All these scapegoat things are overblown. I don’t think Alou makes the catch anyway – he didn’t exactly go after it with Alex Gordon style abandon or anything, he was thinking of his body first – and the Cubs implosion was a complete one. Castillo actually came up AGAIN in the same inning.

    Denkinger? The Royals would have won anyway. The only out the Cardinals ended up getting in the inning was on Orta on the basepaths later in the inning. There is zero chance the Royals don’t at least tie the game, and considering the Cards only scored 1 run the last 26 innings of the series, that may as well be a win.

    Buckner? While it was a hideous play to watch, even if he fields the grounder, Mookie beats him and Stanley to the bag anyway. No, the winning run doesn’t score on that play, but the game was already tied, and the Red Sox bullpen had an ERA over 7 for the series.

    Oh yes, and of course ALL THREE had chances to win the next day. 2 of them had leads the next day. (Not the Cardinals, who were completely anemic offensively and hit .144/.189/.144 in the last 26 innings. They lost 11-0)

    Three teams imploding, three fanbases (and 2 of the teams themselves) looking for someone to blame.

  16. I’m glad Bryan and Khazad mentioned the 1985 World Series, because that series was enough to make me believe, at least for a while, that Whitey Herzog shouldn’t be allowed to be a Hall of Famer, and it’s all because of the 1941 World Series. To explain ….

    Denkinger blew the call. Did the Cardinals pull themselves together or did they fall apart and use that as an excuse? We know the answer.

    The next day, Denkinger had the plate and Joaquin Andujar, who could be a bit off-center, got upset about the strike zone when in fact his pitching was lousy. He’s ejected. Herzog comes out and gets himself ejected.

    First, Herzog and the Cardinals acted like a bunch of babies.

    Second, I thought of Leo Durocher. Anybody remember Mickey Owen missing the Hugh Casey pitch in Game 4 of the 1941 World Series? Tommy Henrich goes to first and the Yankees end up coming back to win. But the Dodgers still led 4-3 with two out and a runner at first. Later that off-season, Durocher was talking with some reporters and Red Barber recounted that Durocher said HE, the manager, cost the Dodgers that game. It was HIS job at that moment to go out and say, it’s ok, guys, we still lead, we have a runner on now, but we can get him, so let’s figure out how to play this. Instead, Durocher said, he was shell-shocked and sat in the dugout.

    Herzog’s job was to get out there and settle everybody down. But he was too busy blaming Denkinger. And if Herzog’s players made as few errors as Denkinger made in his career, their fielding percentages would have been a lot better.

  17. Lazy Lawyer says:

    There was nothing benevolent about the Cubs giving Bartman that ring. If you want to do something nice for him then they could have given it to him in private. Considering how reclusive Bartman has been this whole time, the last thing he wanted was a press conference (on a Cubs off day to guarantee maximum news coverage). This was entirely about the Cubs trying to make themselves look good.

    And why would Bartman ever accept? That’s a $70,000 ring that you can’t sell (Cubs maintain a right of first buy back for $1). He just took on about $15-20,000 in tax liability for a ring he can’t sell. Why would he keep it? To have a momento of the time that the worst fanbase in sports ruined his life in the most despicable moment of fandom ever? Who wants that?

    My hope? He sells the ring to the highest bidder, uses that money to pay off the taxes and retires early with the remainder. Then he dares the Cubs to sue him to enforce the $1 buyback clause. Do the Cubs want that kind of publicity? No chance.

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