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Ten Years: Blaming Bartman

Cubs fans and sports fans alike will never forget this play:

The date was October 14, 2003 and the Chicago Cubs were 5 outs away from their first World Series appearance since 1945. The Cubs held 3-2 series lead against the Florida Marlins in the National League Championship Series.  With the 8th inning in progress, Marlins second baseman Luis Castillo stood awaiting the pitch that would change the one man’s life forever.

The Cubs led the game 3-0 and everything seemed to be falling in place for Cubs pitcher Mark Pryor, who was pitching a three-hit shutout. Pryor was pitching to Castillo with the count set at 3 balls and 2 strikes.  With one out and a runner on second, Pryor delivered a pitch that was fouled down the left field line. As the ball approached the shallow left field bleachers, Cubs left fielder Moisés Alou began chasing down the ball and he looked as if he was going to make a sensational second out for the Cubs.

As the ball began to drop out of the sky, a crowd of fans battled for the potential souvenir baseball. As Alou began his play to catch the ball, a fan unintentionally deflected the ball away from Alou’s glove. That man was Steve Bartman.

As Alou threw his glove down in frustration, demanding a fan interference call, but no call was made to grant fan interference. Following the foul ball, Castillo drew a walk that set up an RBI single to drive in the Marlins’ first run, making the score 3-1. The 8th inning continued for the Marlins as they were able to tie the score at 3-3, ending Mark Pryor’s pitching night. The Marlins were not done scoring in the 8th. In all, the Marlins scored eight runs pushing their lead to 8-3 ultimately sealing their victory in game 6 of the NLCS.

As fans at Wrigley Field began to understand the magnitude of the foul ball that Alou had attempted to catch, pandemonium ensued. Bartman was escorted from his seat by security as fans began pelting him with debris and insults. Steve Bartman’s name was then made public ,making him known as the guy who destroyed the Cubs’ chances at a World Series.

After the game, Bartman issued a statement apologizing for not seeing Alou at the time the play was happening. Since that statement, Bartman has refused every interview request, endorsement offer, and has remained invisible to the public spotlight.

10 years have gone by since that infamous night in Wrigley Field. Mentioning the name “Bartman” to any Cubs fans brings back the pain and anger that they felt that October night a decade ago.

Why are we still blaming Steve Bartman?

Any fan of baseball that has gone to a MLB game knows the excitement of having a baseball hit your way.

That’s what Steve Bartman was, a fan. The look on Bartman’s face in the following innings said it all. He had not meant to alter any part of the Cubs season; he just wanted what every fan sitting on the left field foul line at Wrigley wanted.

To blame Steve Bartman takes all responsibility from the Chicago Cubs that game and series. The Cubs were up 3-0 at the time of the controversial play, but errors and pitching let the Marlins creep back in and blow out the Cubs to force a game 7 in the NLCS. The Cubs were able to build a 5-3 lead against the Marlins, but ended up losing the decisive game 7,  9-6 ending the Cubs chance at history. From 2003 until 2013, the Cubs have not won a playoff game.

When looking at the 2003 season for the Cubs, fans still place all the blame on Bartman. Yes, the rule in baseball about fan interference is evident. Should interference have been called? Video footage may indicate yes, but would the call have made a difference?

10 years removed from the Steve Bartman incident, it is hard to see if the Cubs and their fans have moved on from the Bartman incident. I feel there is no other way to say it other than:

It’s time to forgive and forget about Steve Bartman.