For about two hours this morning, the big story among Cubs fans was the announcement that ESPN has commissioned a Steve Bartman documentary. The small matter of Ortiz and Ramirez getting leaked on, or something, took a lot of the focus off of things that happened in 2003. Giggle.
But within that brief window of mass interest/disgust regarding the Bartman story, I couldn’t help but laugh when I read the scores of tweets and reader comments expressing how very little anyone cares about the Bartman story anymore. Phrases like “We’re over it,” “No one blames Bartman,” and “Who cares?” popped up quite a lot.
The public sentiment was, Leave Bartman alone. The story is over, and we have moved on. How dare you, ESPN, exploit this poor man and torture the Cubbie faithful by bringing up something that happened 6 years ago?!? I understand the thinking, but it’s a lie.
Cub fans (and those who pity them) are still bringing up the Goat from 1945. When we long for the good old days, our hearts have to stretch back to 1908. Six years is like a fortnight in Cubbie years. Some other things we can’t let go of: Bruce Froemming robbing Milt Pappas; Leon Durham letting that ball go through him; the lights; the 7th inning stretch . . . the list goes on. Cub fans don’t get over anything, least of all trauma.
If the volume and intensity of negative response is any indication, Steve Bartman will always be a strong ratings grab. But before you accuse ESPN of tormenting Bartman, consider this simple fact: he is a die-hard Cubs fan who is resigned to the fact he will never go to Wrigley again. Due to fear of the press? Fear of ESPN? No. Bartman knows better than to surround himself with Cub fans. Imagine that. Knowing you’ll never go back to Wrigley because of who you are. For those of us not named Ozzie Guillen, that would suck.
So I’m curious to see the documentary. I don’t want to know where Bartman is now. I don’t want to relive the horror of the cursed foul ball. I just want someone to explore what it is about the culture of Cubs fans that causes such deep, spirited, emotional reactions to such minute details as a fan reaching out for a foul ball.
There is a mental block contaminating the minds of Cub fans and Cub players. It’s a natural curse no one can deny. I don’t think we should be afraid to prod it.