I found myself watching the new ESPN Documentary “Catching Hell”. It was very good. Catching Hell refers to the “Steve Bartman game”. All of us remember that one…who couldn’t. Even though there aren’t a lot of Cubs fans around here, we all knew about the situation. For those unfamiliar let me refresh your memory…
Game 6 in the NLCS, 2003 I believe it was. Cubs 5 outs away from the World Series when Ivan Rodriguez hits a foul ball…near the stands….Moises Alou reaches out….and WHACK….Bartman hits the ball and Alou can’t catch it. From there it spirals out of control. Rodriguez gets a hit, as does the next 10 batters. 8 runs later Florida has won the game 8-3. Game 7 went downhill quickly and the Cubs lost their shot at the World Series…curse continues.
The movie was extremely well done, went behind the scenes with Cubs staffers on how they feared for his life, snuck him out of the building, let him stay at a security guards house until the coast was clear, and chronicled how he’s kind of went into hiding in the last 8 or so years.
I found myself feeling sorry for him. He didn’t do anything that you or I or any Cubs fan in the world would do. He reached for a foul ball. Just so happened that was a pretty important foul ball. The fans have vilified Bartman for something that doesn’t seem so bad…reaching for a foul ball.
Let’s put that story on hold for a moment. I also read a story on FOX sports about Zach Hemple. Seems Mr. Hemple traveled around the country this season trying to catch as many baseballs as possible. Foul balls, Home Runs, just balls thrown in the stands…he wants them. He was quite successful. He pulled in over 1,000 baseballs this season. Let me repeat that so you know I didn’t mistype that. He brought home over 1,000 baseballs.
The story goes into this “Hero’s quest” about how he wanted the record, what his strategies are to go about getting baseballs, how it’s somehow noble what he’s doing.
What makes a man decide he wants to go get that many baseballs. Now don’t get me wrong, the act of trying to get a baseball is just fine. All of us want one, all of us think of it as a kind of “holy grail” in trying to get a major league baseball to take home. But 99.9% of us think about getting 1 baseball. Not 1,000.
How many little kids could’ve gotten those balls? That’s how you nurture fans…get Kids interested. Kids would love to get something like a ball from their heros. Not a fully grown man.
To go bring back our friend Steve Bartman now…I have a hard time figuring out who the real villain is. Who is the one worthy of our scorn?
Is it a man who did exactly what anyone of us would’ve done in the same situation? Or is it a man that travels around the country taking balls away from every fan/kid at the game?
You tell me…I’m not sure I know the mindset of sports fans anymore.