FanDuel - WFBC

October 14, 2013

Steve Bartman, 10 Years Later: Ten years ago today, Chicago Cubs fan Steve Bartman reached out for a foul ball and became the most infamous fan in team history. The New York Times catches up with the incident -- but not Bartman, who continues to reject all interview requests. "He's happy and healthy and he's still a Cubs fan," said Frank Murtha, a longtime friend. "He values his privacy."

posted by rcade to baseball at 01:39 PM - 25 comments

I'd really like it if people would stop trying to bother the man. He's been unfairly vilified, and bringing it up every 5/10 years to say he doesn't want an interview is the same as picking at the scab.

The best way to respect his privacy is to simply stop writing articles like this.

posted by grum@work at 02:42 PM on October 14

Bartman has turned down the opportunity to make 6 figures off this whole thing.

Remember that the next time an athlete takes 12 million instead of 10 to move to a different team and the "no one would turn down that kind of money" line gets trotted out.

posted by justgary at 02:46 PM on October 14

I can't blame the media for marking the 10-year anniversary with another Bartman story.

His 10-year streak of not seeking attention is pretty impressive, particularly in the age of reality TV famewhoring. I would not do that in his position. I'd ride my brief moment of infamy harder than a Palin spawn.

posted by rcade at 03:02 PM on October 14

Always felt so bad for him. A split second mistake on his part will haunt him for the rest of his days.

posted by Drood at 03:23 PM on October 14

It wasn't even a mistake. He was sitting in the front row, and a foul ball was coming his way. I don't believe anyone who says that they would have gotten out of the way so that Alou could catch the ball. Any other person in that situation would have either tried to catch the ball or gotten out of the way because they didn't want to get hit (making room for someone else to try to catch the ball). It is completely unfair to Steve Bartman that the world ever even learned his name.

posted by bender at 04:08 PM on October 14

I'd ride my brief moment of infamy harder than a Palin spawn.

This leads me to wonder how hard you would ride a Palin spawn.

posted by Hugh Janus at 04:11 PM on October 14

Deadspin's more dramatic discussion of the Bartman.

posted by Bonkers at 04:33 PM on October 14

It wasn't even a mistake.

That depends on whether he reached into the field of play or not. (If I recall correctly, he didn't).

Reaching into the field of play to catch a foul ball or home run that a player might be able to catch is always a mistake. It's against the rules and fans can be ejected for doing it.

When the ball has left the field of play, it's more of a judgment call. I've seen fans pull each other away from those hits to save them from being bartmanned.

Personally, I think anything a fan can reach from the stands should be considered fair game for fans to catch, whether or not a player had a shot at it.

posted by rcade at 04:48 PM on October 14

Just read Deadspin's piece. It did a good job of reminding me what that moment was like to watch live. Bartman's appearance and the I-want-to-be-invisible-now expression were perfect for the role of eternal scapegoat.

There are some people whose discomfort is irresistible to watch. Sitting down in that screengrab, he looks like a Ben Stiller character who has been put upon by the world and is too impotent to do anything about it, so he quietly fumes.

I hope the Cubs win a Series someday and we find out later Bartman was in the crowd.

posted by rcade at 04:59 PM on October 14

Rcade, I watched a feature on the incident (may have been one of ESPN's "30 For 30") in which it was determined the ball was just inside the fans' side of the railing. The reaction of some in the "peanut gallery" was sad.

There likely are some Cub fans who still blame Bartman for the Cubs losing the NLCS ... ignoring that the Cubs went into a free-fall meltdown in the late innings, and they still had a Game 7 to redeem themselves.

posted by jjzucal at 05:06 PM on October 14

Personally, I think anything a fan can reach from the stands should be considered fair game for fans to catch, whether or not a player had a shot at it.

This is part of why I say it wasn't a mistake. I understand that there are rules against fans touching balls in play, but if MLB doesn't want fans touching balls in play, they should design the stadium so that they can't reach a ball in play.* If someone touches a ball without falling into the field, then he had every bit as much right to it as any of the players.

Even more, though, it wasn't a mistake because a fan looking at a foul ball coming in his direction is thinking (a) I want that ball, and (b) I do not want to be hit by that ball. While looking up at the ball, he cannot be expected to know where the railing is or where the players are or if they might catch it. Expecting anything more is both ridiculous and unreasonable.

*I do not want to see foul lines redesigned in any way because of this. I do think that outfield fence should be designed in such a way that fans are not able to reach below the top of the fence to possibly catch a homerun ball that might have landed short.

posted by bender at 05:32 PM on October 14

Leave it to Cubs fans to place blame on the fact their organization sucks on a little dude with glasses in the stands. I'm as much to blame for Ortiz hitting a grand slam last night as Bartman is for the Cubs finding yet another way to go up in flames.

posted by dyams at 05:32 PM on October 14

I understand that there are rules against fans touching balls in play, but if MLB doesn't want fans touching balls in play, they should design the stadium so that they can't reach a ball in play.

My philosophy also. But there's a home field advantage in how you treat a hit into the stands depending on which team is going for the catch. Fans in the front rows should educate each other about what to do if a fly ball comes your way.

I was at a Rangers game once in the front row of the outfield and Steve Buechele hit a home run right at me before a sold-out crowd. It felt as if the attention of the entire world was suddenly directed at me. I froze like a Watership Down bunny in the headlights of a car.

Bartman's ability to make any play for that ball in those circumstances was impressive. At least to me.

posted by rcade at 06:27 PM on October 14

The telling line from the Deadspin piece is this one:

If Alou had just calmly walked back to his position, no one would ever know the name Steve Bartman.

That's the part that bothers me the most. If Alou doesn't act like a petulant ass, then no one says anything about the foul ball. "Oops, Alou couldn't get it because it was in the stands."

posted by grum@work at 06:33 PM on October 14

You're right. If Alou hadn't acted the way he did, no one would have said anything.

posted by Hugh Janus at 09:45 PM on October 14

ignoring that the Cubs went into a free-fall meltdown in the late innings, and they still had a Game 7 to redeem themselves.

Yep. I remember watching it live, as there was the prospect of a Cubs-Red Sox World Series, and the Cubs were bottling it before that moment, and they bottled Game 7. And if the majority of Cubs fans still blame the poor fucker and not the team that bottled it -- I say this as someone whose introduction to baseball was the '86 World Series -- then they can suffer a lot longer.

posted by etagloh at 10:19 PM on October 14

That's the part that bothers me the most. If Alou doesn't act like a petulant ass, then no one says anything about the foul ball. "Oops, Alou couldn't get it because it was in the stands."

If the inning doesn't blow up then no one remembers Alou's reaction. The consequences of his reaction ending up being huge but it seems like an honest mistake in the moment.

posted by tron7 at 02:18 AM on October 15

What bothers me the most is that every person surrounding Bartman was trying to catch the ball as well. He was just the fan who was unlucky enough to make contact with it.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 08:55 AM on October 15

In fairness to Alou, his reaction in the heat of the moment is the same one a lot of fans had when they saw it happen. And once he lost his cool in those first few seconds, I can't think of anything he could have done to make Bartman less of a goat.

posted by rcade at 02:40 PM on October 15

In fairness to Alou, his reaction in the heat of the moment is the same one a lot of fans had when they saw it happen.

Huh? As the play happened, I thought it was simply a foul ball Alou couldn't get. I didn't think anything different than hundreds of other foul balls that fielders can't grab. It wasn't until he flipped out and the replay slowed it WAAAY down that I even began to think that Alou had a legitimate shot at it.

posted by grum@work at 02:46 PM on October 15

Watch the first 10 seconds of this video, the live broadcast of the play. You see Alou jump and Bartman's hands appearing to extend over the field of play. Even before the replay, it's pretty obvious Alou had a strong chance to catch the ball.

And when you see it in slo-mo to get a better idea of what Alou saw, it's expecting a lot for him not to be visibly upset in the first few seconds afterwards, which is all it took. Catching Hell covers this around minutes 31-35. In minutes 36-37, you see a fan-shot video from higher up on the third base side in which fans immediately suspect interference.

How does Alou show no reaction at all after the chance to catch that ball is so clearly denied by a fan? Isn't that expecting a lot? The place was waiting to explode with joy over a Cubs win. It was one of the most amazing, tense baseball games I've ever seen, even before that play.

posted by rcade at 03:12 PM on October 15

posted by rcade at 05:23 PM on October 15

Stop whining and bringing this up Cubs (or is it sCrUBS) fans!

While....I'm sure that folks will say that my take on this is because I'm from Milwaukee here goes anyway:

1. Alou himself has said he isn't so sure he would have caught the ball in the first place....hindsight I guess. 2. It was one run....The CUBS....promptly gave up 7 more runs after that...not zero, not one, but SEVEN! If the TEAM does it job right, this is a non-issue.

posted by R_A_Mason at 09:44 PM on October 24

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