If you didn’t hear, today the Chicago Cubs awarded Steve Bartman a World Series ring. Most people recognize Bartman as the Cub fan who, while attempting to catch a ball in foul territory in Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series, got tangled up with Cubs outfielder Moises Alou, and the ball fell foul.
The Cubs epic meltdown ensued. While leading the game 3-0 with one out in the eighth inning, and leading the series three games to two, the Cubs were only five outs away from their first World Series appearance in 58 years. Instead, the Cubs gave up eight runs in the inning, lost the game 8-3, and lost Game 7 the following night.
Let me reiterate that. The Cubs lost Game 6. And Game 7. And the National League Championship Series. Not Steve Bartman. Yet, Bartman has been held responsible by the media and some Cubs fans for the Cubs’ failure to make the World Series in 2003 (and every year through 2015).
As we all know, the Cubs finally ended the 108-year World Series championship drought last fall.
As a Cubs fan who has never placed blame on Bartman for Game 6, or any other loss, I was excited to hear Tom Ricketts and company has awarded Bartman a World Series championship ring. My only wish is that I could have witnessed the moment so I could feel the emotion for Bartman just as I did when Kris Bryant made the throw to Anthony Rizzo in the early hours of November 3, 2016.
Bartman has seemingly lived in privacy since that October night nearly 14 years ago. And while a visual of Bartman’s acceptance of the ring today may not exist, he did issue a statement of appreciation. One sentence from the statement has stuck with me since I read it earlier today. In the statement, Bartman says:
“My hope is that we all can learn from my experience to view sports as entertainment and prevent harsh scapegoating, and to challenge the media and opportunistic profiteers to conduct business ethically by respecting personal privacy rights and not exploit any individual to advance their own self-interest or economic gain.”
If we could only conduct our business and treat each other “ethically,” especially in the name of a game, our world would be better. If we could not profit, emotionally or financially, from the exploitation of others, our world would be better. From one Cub fan to another, thanks and congratulations Steve!