Monday, July 31, 2017

Every Cub Fan Gets to Fly the W

It's always nice when an organization shows itself not only mostly classy in its operations but also interested in its fans as human beings. So the Chicago Cubs' presentation of a World Series championship ring to hard-luck fan Steve Bartman is a good way to start off a week.

In 2003, Bartman tipped a foul ball headed out of play in a playoff game between his Cubs and the Florida Marlins. Left fielder Mois├ęs Alou had a play on the ball, but couldn't catch it because of Bartman's interference. Umpire Mike Everitt ruled that whatever disruption had been caused by Bartman, it was not official interference because the ball had already broken the plane of the edge of the field.

Bartman was quickly reviled when the Cubs fell apart in that game and lost again in the next, ending their run at a National League title and delaying the end of their historic title drought for another 13 years. He left the game under police escort and his home also had to be guarded by police after several people posted his home address on Major League baseball message boards. Then-Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich suggested he enter witness protection -- a half-joking remark that probably made Bartman feel pretty good once Blagojevich became a guest of the federal government for his own attempted interference.

Bartman stayed reclusive in the ensuing years. He resisted most calls for interviews and chose not to take part in any fund-raisers or similar efforts by folks with good intentions who wanted to try to make it up to him for the abuse he endured because of his mistake. The Series ring seems to be the peace offering he chose to accept, however, and he even released a statement that the WGN story quotes. But it's all he's saying about it, though, pointing out that he will decline all interview requests and make no more statements.

The Cubs organization and Bartman himself all seem interested in how to be respectful, dignified and grown-up about the whole Foul Ball Incident. Baseball is indeed an amazing game and its fans can bring forth reasons many and varied why it is the best game.

But it's just a game. So let's remember to put it in its proper place and leave the ruination of lives and the obsessions over unimportant matters where they belong: Twitter.

1 comment:

CGHill said...

I didn't believe it when I heard it first, but this is one of those cases where a small gesture means a whole lot more than usual.

Not that the Red Sox are ever going to feel kindly toward Bucky Effing Dent.