On October 14, 2003, at Wrigley Field in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series a Chicago Cubs fan by the name of Steve Bartman attempted to catch a foul ball being pursued by the Cubs outfielder Moisés Alou. Bartman, and several other fans, deflected the ball and prevented a potential catch by the Cubs outfielder. IF Alou had caught the ball, it would have been the second out in the inning and IF the Cubs had gotten four more outs they would have won their first National League pennant since 1945. Instead, the Cubs ended up surrendering eight runs in the inning and losing the game, 8–3. They were eliminated in the seventh game the next day. Bartman, a lifelong Cubs fan, had to be escorted from the stadium by security guards and was placed under police protection when his name and address were made public.
Since that day in October thirteen years ago Bartman has declined interviews, endorsement deals (some in the six figure range), and requests for public appearances. It is thought that he still lives in the Chicago area and as far as anyone knows, he has never returned to Wrigley Field.
Fortunately the curse of Steve Bartman and the other ten supposed curses ended last night when the Chicago Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians in game seven ending a 108 year World Series drought.
I live in a college football crazy state. We have two teams and you pull for one and whoever is playing the other team that week. I am not from here but thirty years ago I had to pick one or the other. There is no fence straddling, you can’t pull for both. This is a serious business in my state, life or death.
A college football season runs from September to early January if you make a bowl game. Here, in my state, the football season runs 365 days. The team may not be playing, and sure the college has a baseball and basketball team, but football is the sport we all orbit around even in the off-season.
I love college football but I don’t live or die by the results of a game. I don’t let 18-22 year olds ruin my week just because they lost. I also don’t crucify some poor 19-year-old on the fan boards because he missed a game winning field goal. It’s just a game, it’s entertainment, it won’t bring world peace or end world hunger but try convincing a fan with the school logo tattooed on his forehead of that….I dare you.
I watched that game on October 14, 2003 (I am a Cubs fan). I saw Bartman, along with five other fans, try to catch that foul ball. It was and still is a natural reaction. I also watched the police come and escort him from the ballpark, which I learned later was for his own protection not that he was in trouble. Baseball, like college football, is just a game. A kids game played by grown men, with good eye-hand coordination, that get paid millions of dollars.
Maybe for a day or for even a week a winning result creates some sort of utopia for a select few. But while they are basking in the glory of someone else’s success the world continues to turn. Problems of hate, hunger and strife will still exist. They don’t go away because of a winning kick, or a grand slam, or a game winning three pointer. Maybe they would go away if we put as much effort, interest, emotion and money into solving them as we do for rooting for our respective team. Maybe.