Steve Bartman was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
On that infamous night of October 14, 2003, Bartman grabbed for a foul ball. Unfortunately, so was Moises Alou of the Cubs. Angry Cubs fans would spin it into Bartman losing the NLCS for the Cubs and deserving of nothing less than the hate and contempt of the faithful at Wrigley Field.
In reality, Bartman was one of at least three fans grabbing for that foul ball, and had Alou actually caught it, it would have only been the second out in the eighth inning of Game 6. A couple of inches to the left or right, Cubs fans would be vilifying some other guy, and nobody would have ever heard of Bartman.
But the true source of anger with Cubs fans should have been pointed in a completely different direction. While they were ready with their torches and pitchforks to the point where Bartman had to be escorted out of the ballpark by police, another, more significant event happened.
Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez had the opportunity to turn a double play to end the inning and thus wipe the alleged Bartman stain from memory. He blew it, swinging the momentum in the entirely wrong direction. The Cubs lost Game 6, and phoned in Game 7, en route to an eventual World Series championship for the Marlins and their new owner, Jeffrey Loria, who deserved a ring about as much as Bartman deserved what he got.
For Gonzalez, he’d spend parts of his remaining three seasons in the majors with a number of different teams before eventually calling in a career in 2007. But he was at least able to walk the streets of Chicago after his 2003 miscue.
As for Bartman? He probably still has to wear a disguise in certain parts of Chicagoland 10 years later.
Sports has a funny way of picking heroes and villains, whether it’s warranted or not. In this case, angry Cubs fans got it all wrong. Bartman was one of you. Now, he may still root for the Cubs, but he can never be among you ever again.
But look on the bright side. The Cubs are considering bringing in as their next manager…Manny Acta…