27 February 2005

Back off, (Bart)man

Weekend Assignment #12: Thanks to time travel and invisibility, you can be on the spot for any important event of the last 100 years (1905 onward). Which important historical event do you choose?

Hmm.  I guess I should be noble and say that I would want to be at an event where I could intervene and save lives, like Boston's Logan airport on the morning of 9/11, but really, who wouldn't say that?  So, as a bow to the creative side of things, I go in a different direction.

I'd most want to be in Wrigley Field on the night of October 14, 2003, in seats down the left field line about even with the Cubs' bullpen.  I'd want to be in the second or third row.  Ahead of me in the first row would be a guy wearing a dark blue sweatshirt, a Cubs cap, and a walkman.

And when the time came, I'd make sure he'd stay forever obscure. 

A fly ball is lofted down the line.  As it drifts closer to the stands and Cubs outfielder Moises Alou approaches, I'd apply a bear hug and make sure Walkman Guy has no chance of interfering with Alou's chance to catch that ball.

You might think I'm doing this to make sure that the Cubs win that game, and make it to the World Series.

You would be wrong.

Even if Alou catches the ball, no one knows what would have happened next.  Alex Gonzalez made a huge error at shortstop a play or so later.  If Gonzalez makes his play, what happens down the left field line earlier becomes irrelevant.

I choose this moment because it avoids what I think has become the most moronic sports pariah legend perhaps in the history of this country, certainly in Chicago.  It's the players that determined the outcome of that game, period.  To blame it on a fan is to make excuses.  It was so much more than just that.

There isn't anyone alive or who has ever lived that has loved the Chicago Cubs more than I have.  I can only imagine a scenario where somehow, through the grace of only chance, I were to be involved in a play that possibly ruined what would (and will be) the greatest sports story in recent history: the Cubs winning a World Series.

That alone would be enough to send me into seclusion for a long, long time.  Toss in one or two million people blaming you directly for it, and I'm never going outside again.

I was in Cincinnati last year for a baseball game between the hometown Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals.  My nephew was with me and we had to pick up our tickets at will call.  When we walked up to the line, I saw something that made me angry.  In the line next to us was a middle-aged man wearing a Cardinal jersey with the number "96" on the back, and above that, the name "Bartman."

The "96" refered to the number of years that had past at that time since the Cubs won a championship.  I found that dumb more than anything.  You're a Cardinal fan, why do you care about how long it's been since the Cubs won?

The "Bartman" was what ticked me off.  Here's a guy who finds what happened at that game so enjoyable that he is willing to put the name on a jersey that has nothing to do with his team.  He has no consideration for what Bartman has been through since then.  I found it cruel and in really poor taste.

A big part of me wishes I would have got in the guy's face, told him that I knew Bartman, and that if he had any clue what kind of guy he was, he'd never mock him like that.

It's been a year and a half now, and it seems like every month or so, some idiot comes up with a new idea to capatilize on Bartman's misfortune.  Last year a restaurant in Chicago spent over $112,000 for the ball from that fateful play, and blew it up in grand spectacle.  This year, they took the stringy remnants of the ball and somewhere made it part of a sauce that is being served on a meal.  Really, could we appear to be any more idiotic about this?  Like Chicago sports fans aren't mocked enough already?

Meanwhile, Bartman waits to be exonerated, knowing the only thing that can do it is a Cubs World Series championship.

Man, talk about waiting a lifetime for something that the odds, and Gods, seem truly against.



plittle said...

Gotta say, I agree with your assessment. The whole Bartman thing should have been a non-issue. I think back a couple of years before that to the kid in New York who reached out and caught what would have been a playable ball and turned it into a home run. That kid deserved a good scolding, but he was a hero instead, because his bonehead move favoured the home team. Bartman was only trying to catch a ball hit INTO the stands. I don't even think Alou had a play on it, but we'll never know.

monponsett said...

I'd choose October 1986, and I'd be in the Red Sox dugout going "Shouldn't we put in Stapleton?" Let me tell you, it was good to get that monkey off our back...hope it works out for Da Cubs.


belfastcowboy75 said...

As a Red Sox fan, I'm rooting for the Cubs to win it all now.