Soapbox: Steve Bartman — No such thing as vindication


In 2003, Steve Bartman did the unthinkable and cost Chicago Cubs left fielder Moisés Alou a chance at a second out in the eighth inning in game six of the National League Championship Series.

The Cubs had a 3-2 series lead and a 3-0 lead in the game over the Florida Marlins. Once it became clear to the fans that Bartman may have been the cause for the catch not being made, they turned on him.

steve-bartmanThe fluke was the unofficial spark of an eight-run inning for the Marlins, who went on to win the game and the series, further prolonging the World Series drought for the Cubs.

This man had the unbelievable chance to sit front row at Wrigley Field in the NLCS. A fly ball down the third-base line in foul territory is the souvenir of a lifetime for a Chicago fan in that game.

I believe that 99 of 100 fans go up and try and catch that ball, and Bartman was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Cubs lost the game and Bartman became Chicago’s greatest villain. With death threats, vandalism and harassment directed at him and his family, Bartman had to come to terms with the fact that he would never again live a normal life.

His name is synonymous with one of the biggest botched moments in sports history. Not only would it be impossible to live in Chicago, but the entire country knows who he is. The guy can’t pay with a credit card without having the cashier know who he is and linking that name to that game.

Bartman shouldn’t be the only scapegoat, as actor Bernie Mac should be awarded with some blame.

The Cubs’ seventh-inning stretch has been sung the same way for more than a century, and when Bernie Mac deliberately changed the words to say “Champions” instead of “Cubbies,” the bad omen was born.

Bernie Mac was not only the first cause of the jinx, but he selfishly chose to shy away from tradition in that moment. Bartman was an accident; Mac was an idiot.

Bartman’s life is ruined forever, and Cubs fans are to blame.

Wrigley Field is known as the “Friendly Confines,” but on that fateful night in 2003, they terrorized this man to a shell of his existence.

Bartman, a former little league baseball coach and lifelong baseball fan, was completely robbed of the second half of his adult life, and Chicago is to blame.  

Against any other team, the Cleveland Indians would have been the overwhelming underdog in this year’s World Series, but the Cubs have been so polarizing that the casual baseball fan went out of his way to watch the series.

Most diehard baseball fans rooted against the Cubs because the streak is such a fun story to watch year after year. Casual baseball fans cheered for the Cubs just so they could witness history.

I didn’t want Chicago to win. Personally, it disgusts me to think about the torment that Bartman has had to suffer through.

Now Chicago fans are saying that Bartman is “free” of accusation. 13 years of anguish and depression and now people get to say that he has vindication? This man unwillingly sacrificed his life for Cubs fans to have an excuse; those same fans do not determine when he is vindicated.

If I were Bartman, I would have left Chicago the night of the foul ball, and I would have never returned. I would have changed my name and started a new life in a new city.

He chose to stay. He chose to keep his name and job and attempted to live a normal life even though every fan in Wrigleyville that night took that from him.  

Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs for winning the World Series. The longest title drought in American sports history has been erased by truly the best team in the league.

For the next year they can say that they are champions, but that doesn’t erase the past 13 years. I hope that Steve Bartman has found solace in Chicago, because not only does he deserve a true vindication, he deserves to live his life without the stigma that his name holds.

Jared Rubado is a junior journalism and sports management major from Brainerd, Minn.

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