Even if you're not a Chicago Cubs fan -- or even a baseball fan -- you probably know something about "the Bartman play." That's when a foul ball drifted into the left fields stands during a crucial moment of 2003 National League Championship series between the Cubs and Miami, and a fan reached to catch the ball, hindering the Cubs outfielder Moises Alou from getting to it.
The play was made all the more infamous when Alou started jumping up-and-down in angry, and the Cubs went on to lose the game and series. What tends to get lost is that a while later, Alou acknowledged that he probably couldn't have caught the ball. And also, an error later by the Cubs shortstop was especially critical in them losing the game.
I've never found the "Bartman play" all that entertaining, and avoid watching a replay of it. I didn't even watch the ESPN documentary they made about it. That's not because it was so painful to me that the Cubs lost -- but rather how galling it is to me that fan reaction mucked up the poor fellow's life. But even more than the fans, there was a newspaper that actually published his home address!! Despicable. He eventually went into seclusion and has understandably avoided all attempts to interview him.
Which brings me to my suggestion.
The curse is off the Cubs. They finally won their first World Series in 108 years. And when they play their first home game this year following their championship, the crowd is going to be overflowing Wrigley Field and going wild crazy.
And to throw out the first pitch to start the season, the Chicago Cubs should not only invite Steve Bartman to be the person to throw it out, but he should be escorted from the dugout to the mound by every significant Cubs legend around. Hall of Famers Billy Williams, Ferguson Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg, and heroes from the World Series team like MVP Kris Bryant, team leader Anthony Rizzo, World Series MVP Ben Zobrist, team president Theo Epstein, and manager Joe Madden.
Not only do I think Cubs fans packing the ballpark would enthusiastically cheer the fellow because they want to and know it's the right thing to do, but even if anyone had the slightest inkling to "boo," they would be cheering all those Cubs legend -- and if anyone still decided to "boo," there's no chance in the world they'd be hear.
If Steve Bartman doesn't want the attention, I'd completely understand. But at the very least, the Cubs should make the offer. For all I know, they already have. We'll see.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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