Story of the Week
I've always very much regretted not having become a trial lawyer. So for this brief exercise, I shall assume the role of Steve Bartman's defense attorney. I do hope I get this role when the movie is made, but they'll probably give it to some unknown like Richard Gere or Tom Cruise. Anyway, here goes my presentation to the jury.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I was recently asked to name the three most despicable human beings in the history of the great city of Chicago. I answered the question quickly; it’s rather obvious. In third place is Al Capone, the infamous crime-lord who terrorized the city for years. In second place is Richard Speck, the sexual predator and mass-murderer. But far and away, the person who heads the Windy City’s all-time list of most notorious human scum is Steve Bartman.
Yes, Steve Bartman, a name that will live in infamy. After all, he is personally responsible for the Chicago Cubs losing the 2003 National League pennant to the Florida Marlins. He should be strung up by his thumbs in Wrigley Field, left to dangle in mid-air from the upper deck in left field, as close to where "the incident" took place as possible. After all, he should have a perfect view of the seat in which he sat for Game Six of the Series. And during this event, Cubs fans should be permitted to have the pleasure of watching Bartman’s life be taken from him, just as he personally took their hopes for a World Series away from them.
OK, SO MUCH FOR FICTION. NOW FOR THE FACTS OF THE CASE. Steve Bartman did NOT cost the Cubs the 2003 National League title. Steve Bartman reacted instinctively to the foul pop-fly that found his seat. He was joined by several other Cubs fans in attempting to catch the ball, but unfortunately for Bartman, the ball found him.
And exactly when did it find him? As already noted, during Game Six in the top-half of the 8th. inning. There was one out when "the incident" took place. The Cubs were leading at the time, 3-0, and one of their two ace pitchers, Mark Prior, was in control of the game.
Yes, Moises Alou, Chicago’s left-fielder, had reason to be upset with Steve Bartman for preventing him from at least making a valiant attempt to catch the ball. But Bartman did what other fans tried to do on that very play, and now the Cubs’ demise is his fault. Well, Cubs fans, it wasn’t Bartman who mismanaged the Cubs’ pitching staff, and it wasn’t Bartman who allowed Florida to bat their way to success, and it wasn’t Bartman who permitted Florida to put up an eight-spot on the board that inning with sophomoric and shoddy play in the field.
Let’s also not lose sight of the fact that the Cubs still could have won Game Seven for the Series victory, and did not, despite the fact that their other standout pitcher, Kerry Wood, started for them. The Cubs were their own worst enemy in the last two games of this Series. They managed to do everything wrong from the top half of the 8th. inning of Game Six to the very end of Game Seven.
The Cubs’ fans, going all the way up to the Governor of Illinois, and the Chicago media (Their handling of the situation warrants its very own article, and it wouldn’t be kind. Nothing positive could have been gained by the media releasing his identity to the Cubs’ lynch mob, as if they cared.) have treated Steve Bartman terribly and unjustly. Chicago determined that young Bartman, unfortunately for him and his family, fills the role of scapegoat perfectly. And the worst part of all this is that Steve Bartman is probably being harder on himself than are those idiotic Chicago fans who buy into the garbage that he cost their beloved Cubs the pennant.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, there is but one fair and just verdict applicable here, and I am certain in your collective hearts that you know what it is. Thank you. The defense rests.
Last Week’s Trivia
After the 1971 season, the Cardinals traded the great Steve Carlton and what other star left-hander over salary disputes? Gussie Busch traded Jerry Reuss to Houston for that household name, Scipio Spinks. Busch should have stuck to his brewery; he had one too many Budweisers when he made those deals.
Trivia Question of the Week
What player owns the distinction of having hit at least one home run for the most major league teams in baseball history? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.