8 years after he first fell into infamy, Steve Bartman is back in the news. In the first entry in the new wave of ESPN’s great 30 for 30 documentary series, Alex Gibney explores the concept of the scapegoat through the story of the 2003 Cubs’ collapse.
There is hardly anybody in the U.S. who hasn’t heard the name Steve Bartman, and has at least some vague notion that he was blamed for a loss. Like other sports scapegoats (Fred Merkel, Bill Buckner, Chris Webber), Bartman had a momentary lapse, upon which was piled a mountain of frustration that he had nothing to do with. Unlike all the rest of these figures, Bartman wasn’t being paid for his performance on the field, and became a part of the action by pure bad luck.
Although it could have been worse (Andres Escobar was killed for a blunder, the subject of another strong 30 for 30 doc), the reaction by Cubs’ fans was wildly overblown. So where does Bartman stand now? More importantly, is it possible for a Cubs fan still scarred by the ’03 and ’04 seasons to completely let go of his irrational feelings. I took up the issue with The Lanky Hippy.