Note from Cyn: I wrote this on July 3, 2011. It’s archived in the old posts but figured it couldn’t hurt to bring it out since the Cubs are finally in the NLCS again.
I reviewed the documentary “Catching Hell” without intending to. I wrote the below because while watching the documentary I started yelling at the television and then remembered I wrote a blog where I could vent my frustrations. So here it is.
July 3, 2011: So I’m home and going through the On Demand listings and I come across “Catching Hell“, a documentary described as exploring “the phenomenon of scapegoating by examining what the fateful deflected foul ball in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS did to Cubs fans and Bill Buckner’s error in the 1986 World Series did to Boston fans”. Sounds like 104 minutes of fun, right? This was made for ESPN’s 30 for 30 series and I almost didn’t watch it. I really go out of my way, even now, to avoid watching anything from Game 6 but in buying this On Demand I made the decision to watch it. No sense in paying to watch the documentary and skip through the painful parts, right?
I know that it is completely insane that after 2004 and 2007, watching the end of that game is still painful, but it is. It hurt me physically to watch it. Really made my heart and body ache. There was never, ever, a time when I “blamed” Bill Buckner for what happened, never, but there is no denying that there were many who did (truth be told, more in the media and around the country than locally. I’ve honestly never met anyone who held hatred or anger toward Buckner who lived in the area. Hell, he got cheered when he came back to Boston as a player…that bit of information always gets left out of any discussions about Bill Buckner).
So I expected to watch this and be annoyed by comparing something that happened in the LCS to something that happened in the World Series (as far as the pain of the fans) but I wasn’t. Alex Gibney, the filmmaker (and Boston Red Sox fan) did a wonderful job of showing in painful detail how scapegoating both Bartman and Buckner was so ridiculous and unfair that the personal pain kind of went away. I’ll say this about the Cubs fans, I have a different view of them now. I will never get over hearing the fans not only chanting “asshole”at him but yelling things like “we’re going to kill you!” and “Put a twelve gauge in his mouth and pull the trigger” and throwing things at him. Definitely not a high point for baseball fans. I did NOT expect to be more upset by the Bartman incident than the Buckner one but the filmmakers really covered it in such detail that I couldn’t help getting upset for Steve Bartman (not the Cubs fans. Definitely not the Cubs fans) like it just happened. I was genuinely yelling “Oh my God!” at some of what was shown. How Fox and Steve Lyons hammered the visual of Bartman over and over and how the fans fed off of Moises Alou and instead of supporting the team after that, spent the rest of the game torturing Bartman. (And, really, based on the audio and video, Lyons and Fox are as responsible for what happened to him as the Cubs fans are. ) Friendly Confines, my ass.
Ironically, anyone who blamed Buckner or Bartman seemed to forget that both games were game sixes. Each team had an entire game to finish things off and couldn’t seal the deal. I guess it’s more fun to blame folks than it is to accept that your team failed.
I have to tell you, too, that after watching the replay of Moises Alou’s reaction over and over, I take issue with how he acted. His actions (or REactions) helped fuel the fire that changed Steve Bartman’s life forever. It pleased me that Gibney says in a voice over “Moises Alou was NOT a great fielder. Would he have made the catch [had Bartman not been there]?” To this day, Alou is “…convinced 100 percent” that he would have made the catch. Using technology where they erased the crowd from the shot, it does look like Alou would have made the catch. But we’ll never know. Is ruining a man’s life a good trade off for your favorite team losing?
The filmmaker wants to get your blood boiling and he does. Not only showing us Buckner and Bartman, but reminding us about Jeffrey Maier. (Interesting that Maier gets treated like a God for legitimate fan interference while Steve Bartman is forever reviled for doing something all the fans around him were also doing.)
All in all an interesting, but also sad look at how fans protect their own feelings by picking a scapegoat so they can continue to root for the laundry.
The majority of the documentary covers Bartman and what happened surrounding what happened in game 6 but it is bookended by Bill Buckner and the Red Sox. Fascinating to hear him talking about how he really didn’t know how he missed the ball and never watched the replay until recently where he studied in slow motion what happened. (According to him, the ball went by his glove not between his legs. Not sure what he means specifically by that) Buckner didn’t watch the 2004 World Series because Fox kept showing his error video. (Yes, this film is full of more reasons to hate Fox.)
The Boston segment ends with Bill Buckner’s trip back to Fenway in 2008 for Opening Day. A quote from him at the pre-game presser that I had almost forgotten about gives us more proof of where the whole vilification of Bill Buckner came from.
“I had to forgive, not the fans of Boston per se, but in my heart I had to forgive the media for what they put me and my family through”
On the record for the film he says that he felt the crowd “wanted me to feel better”. We sure did, Bill.
It also gets pointed out that Bill Buckner, in becoming a professional baseball player, asked for the limelight and the good and bad that came with it and Steve Bartman didn’t ask for any of it. I do agree with this in a sense. I can’t imagine having your entire life change over something you didn’t even realize was happening at the time.
To this day, Steve Bartman is in hiding from Cubs fans. The stories are that he doesn’t even use credit cards because he doesn’t want to risk anyone recognizing his name. In a sense, he’s lost his identity because people don’t know where to draw the line.
“There are many who say the city should forgive Bartman but it’s really up to Bartman to forgive Chicago.” Can’t really say I would blame him if he never did.
I’ve been pretty vocal regarding my feelings about the Cubs making it to the NLCS. Let’s just say it doesn’t make me happy.
A fair amount of people have asked me how I could possibly root against a team that hasn’t won a championship in over 100 years. Many are adamant that I’m just spiteful and have no good reason to dislike the Cubs. They bring up the Red Sox drought and how I should feel a companionship with the Cubs fans because as a Red Sox fan I know their pain. This is all too true.
In the 2003 post-season, I was much too involved with the Red Sox/Yankees ALCS to pay much attention to what was going on with the Cubs and Marlins. I probably had the NLCS on but I honestly don’t remember one game of it. So I have no memory of my own of the October 14th “Bartman” game at Wrigley Field. All my memories of it come after, from the news, the Internet and the documentary “Catching Hell” that ESPN produced for their 30 for 30 series.
Which means I didn’t immediately hold the treatment of Steve Bartman against the Cubs fans. In my mind, initially, it was just fans giving another fan grief because he interfered with a ball in play and it seemed to affect the outcome of the game. The fans acted like jerks, but all fans act like jerks at one time or another (even you St Louis Cardinals fans) so let’s note they acted crummy and move on with our lives.
Then in 2011 I watched “Catching Hell” on-demand and it changed my view of Cubs fans forever. What they did went beyond giving a fan grief. They tormented Steve Bartman and ruined his life. Ruined it, genuinely, all over a baseball game. (I should note that “Catching Hell” doesn’t just cover Bartman but Bill Buckner as well.)
The argument from many is that ANY fans (maybe, especially Red Sox fans) would have reacted the way the Cubs fans did. I reject this false premise. I will always reject this because we haven’t seen it happen. There have been plenty of goats in Major League Baseball over the last 12 years and where is the next Bartman?
ESPN has been kind enough to post the documentary in its entirety. I’ll save you a click and share it below. I implore you to watch it if for no other reason than to understand how some people. such as yours truly, will have a very difficult time ever forgiving the Cubs fans.
The next person who tells me (in person, online, in a text…) that what Chase Utley did to Ruben Tejada last night was okay by the rules of MLB so we shouldn’t blame him for what ended up happening is going to make my head explode.
Utley didn’t just come in with a hard slide and knock out the shortstop. He waited until he was practically on second base, ran out of the base path and then decided to slide and wipe out Tejada. (As Ron Darling puts it in the video clip below, “(He) Didn’t even start sliding until he was even with the bag.”)
You can watch it here because this is apparently a video no one wants us to embed.
There’s a questionable slide and Tejada ends up with a broken leg. As if that wasn’t devastating enough, the icing on this cupcake is that eventually the umpires ruled that Tejada didn’t touch the bag, the neighborhood play wasn’t in effect and even though he was originally called out, Utley was safe. After the game the umps said that Utley would have been out had any of the Mets tagged him as he left the field, leading David Wright to say:
“Once obviously the player is called out, you don’t go tag him, especially when you’re lying there with a broken leg.”
The Dodgers ended up taking the lead in this inning and the Mets didn’t come back so they head to Flushing with the NLDS tied at 1-1.
What everyone who is a Dodgers fan or who just wants to annoy Mets fans will tell you is that what Utley did is perfectly legitimate under MLB’s rules. What I (and many other people) will tell you is that is utter bullshit.
It isn’t bullshit that it’s allowed in MLB. OBVIOUSLY it is. It’s bullshit that MLB allows it and that a player like Utley (who has done this before, just not with such horrible results) feels perfectly fine going in that way with the knowledge (regardless of what he says) that someone could get seriously hurt.
“We’re going to have to reevaluate the way we go into second base.”
That was five years ago. No reevaluation. No admission from MLB last night that something needs to be done. Just a young player in the playoffs for the first time in the hospital with what could very well be a career-ending injury. Joe Torre tried to sound concerned but if you read this transcript from last night his concern sounds more for saving Chase Utley’s reputation and defending the umpires than worrying about Tejada or any other infielders getting hurt.
So I’m angry and I have no solutions except to stop allowing players to tackle other players. We hear all the time how bat flips or watching a home run disrespects the game. None of those things will end up with a player being broken. How do you not believe going at someone with no protection and usually no way to avoid you is a legitimately clean play? Maybe it IS finally time that Major League Baseball does some evaluating? I’m not holding my breath.
“It’s like he’s trying to speak to me, I know it! You know, you’re really cute, but I don’t know what you’re saying! Say the first thing again!” ~Marlin baffled by Squirt in “Finding Nemo”. Also, me to all the students presenting at the Saber Seminar last weekend.
If I had to guess, I’d say maybe every other presenter at the Saber Seminar this past weekend made a “not all baseball fans are like this group here” comment. Every time someone said it I thought “Hell, I’M not even like this group!”
I love baseball. LOVE it. Fall asleep every night to a random game playing on Extra Innings long after the Red Sox have finished their game. But I have to admit that the advanced statistics often times go right over my head. I try to have the same passion for it that I do the game itself…but I don’t. And that isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the Saber Seminar. I did. It was two days of a lot of fascinating discussions, baseball stories and like-minded people getting a chance to interact. It was my first time there and it was time well-spent.
But there are a boatload of genuine, passionate, baseball fans who would have lasted about a half an hour and then gone looking for a bar with a tv showing a baseball game.
And that’s okay. We’ll get back to this in a moment.
As I’m guessing anyone reading this already knows, it was announced today that after the 2015 season NESN will not be bringing Don Orsillo back to the broadcast booth.
I mean what the hell?
After giving it some thought, my reaction was “Well, this is terrible news but I guess no one has their job forever.” And then I thought “Why the hell not?” I mean, unless you are absolutely terrible at your job why shouldn’t you be able to keep it?
If the outpouring of emotion all over social media outlets today is any indication, most Red Sox fans (as well as the Boston sports media) are quite fond of Donnie O and genuinely upset about the situation. There are support hashtags for D.O. and nasty comments to NESN’s twitter account that have been flooding Twitter all afternoon. People are threatening to cancel their Extra Innings or MLBtv subscriptions next season while others are posting videos of Don and Jerry Remy at their most entertaining.
But one tweet stood out for me. It was in response to a Chad Finn tweet:
@GlobeChadFinn I like analysis, and not a comedy show, which is what people are defending with Orsillo. He is not that good.
— Joe Palladino (@PalladinoJoe) August 25, 2015
Now Joe Palladino is quite possibly a very nice man so I’m not here to specifically call him out – especially since he isn’t the only person to make this observation. But it was the first tweet of its kind that I saw today and it made me think about baseball fans and their expectations.
(As an important aside, it was pointed out to Mr. P and many others that Don Orsillo’s job is to provide play by play, not analysis. That fact doesn’t take away from the point I’m about to make.)
Don Orsillo has two jobs, the first is to tell us what is happening in the game, the play by play if you will. The second, and this is so very important to his job, is to ENTERTAIN US.
Some will argue that plenty of announcers do their jobs perfectly fine without breaking into giggle fits or showing off their packing skills and those people would be correct. But that doesn’t mean that you CAN’T do your job without acting like you’re enjoying the heck out of it and that’s what Don Orsillo has done ever since the first night he took the microphone next to Jerry Remy.
There are so many different levels to enjoy baseball. Some people enjoy lots of hits and runs, some prefer pitching duels, others keep their noses buried in their scorecards, while others go to the park to take photos of the action. Some spend hours and hours pouring over statistics and working on creating new statistics to mark every moment of the game. There are fans who go to the park to enjoy a summer evening outdoors and fans who collect baseball cards for the pictures of the cute guys. And there are many, many fans who use baseball as their soundtrack to summer. Either with the radio or the television, every night around 7pm people some people settle in to spend a few hours with their baseball friends.
There is no wrong way to be a fan. Unless you’re a jackass. Don’t be a jackass.
But I digress.
The Saber Seminar’s connection to Mr. Palladino’s above tweet is tenuous but does exist in MY mind. The majority of the folks at the seminar were wonderfully welcoming, interesting and fun (and obviously passionate about baseball). They were also incredibly focussed on the science and statistics surrounding baseball. For the most part, the weekend wasn’t about being entertained by the game, it was about the deeper meaning behind each pitch, hit and run. And that’s great. And I get that some people, like the folks at the seminar and Mr. P above, might turn into a baseball broadcast to learn more about the statistics and the science. They want more than just “Swing and a miss” or “Hitters are batting .283 versus Smith over his last 12 appearances.” But in fairness, those folks, passionate and wonderful as they are, don’t make up the entirety of baseball fans.
The fans who just want to hear the game being called by a familiar voice make up the majority of the fans. The folks who enjoy hearing Don and Jerry lose their minds over some idiot who tossed a slice of pizza at another fan or who get excited that Jerry surprised Don with a desk lamp, those are the fans who thought NESN got it.
With Don Orsillo we’ve celebrated three World Championships and three no-hitters (four if you count Derek Lowe, but Orsillo didn’t call that game). We’ve mourned the losses of Ted Williams and Johnny Pesky among others…and we laughed. Holy cow have we laughed.
What folks like Mr. Palladino above and, apparently, all the suits at NESN don’t get is that for many of us a member of our family is being kicked out of our home with, seemingly, no good explanation. If he was spreading his wings and taking his talents elsewhere on his own we’d be sad but understanding. Being unceremoniously dumped makes no sense to us and we’re left hurt and angry and with questions that NESN probably won’t ever answer.
Don Orsillo isn’t an analyst but he’s an entertainer and he does that job well. NESN is taking away someone who has grown dear to so many of the people they rely on for their ratings. Maybe they don’t care – it’s a fair bet that they don’t care – but that doesn’t mean that WE can’t care. Watching NESN next season might not be an option for me because I don’t know that I want to support a business who cares so little about people.
I guess what I’ve been trying to say is that I will miss Don Orsillo terribly when he’s gone and that makes me sad. I’m so tired of baseball making me sad.
This is how I was greeted tonight:
“So what do you think about whatshisname in the Herald writing that the Red Sox owe A-Rod an apology?”
I had no idea what he was talking about or who ‘whatshisname’ was. So I was forced to go look. And I found this from Steve Buckley:
Bottom line: Failing to acknowledge A-Rod Friday night wasn’t as bad as the stunt Dempster pulled in 2013. But it was a failure nonetheless, and the Red Sox owe A-Rod an apology.
While I am tempted to use salty language, I will try to refrain. At least for now.
But is Steve Buckley freaking kidding me? Is he trolling us all? Is he now turning into a Dan Shaughnessy click bait machine? I mean WHAT THE GOOD HELL?
Steve Buckley thinks that by not acknowledging that A-Rod is now tied for 4th place (With Willie Mays) on the all-time home run list that they have perpetuated some tragic miscarriage of justice.
Everyone knows what STFU means, yes?
(Also, I’d just like to say that if I ever meet Ryan Dempster he’s getting a hug, a kiss, and as many free beers as I can afford to buy him.)
I watched the game on NESN Friday night while also “watching” online via Twitter. A few reporters on Twitter immediately noted that Fenway Park did not mention the home run and seemed perplexed by this. My first thought about it was “Why antagonize the fans?” Seriously. The home run that A-Rod hit, his 660th, tied him with Mays for 4th place but more importantly in the moment it gave the Yankees the lead in a game they ended up winning. Red Sox fans already felt lousy enough. Why would their own team rub salt in that wound by making the fans cheer for the guy by announcing his milestone?
While I’m ranting about it, I dig Willie Mays as much as the next person but we’re talking about 4th place here. Where is it written that we have to celebrate you for coming in fourth?
But I digress.
Regardless of how petty others might think it is, there is a large contingent of baseball fans, the majority of them probably Red Sox fans, who flat-out do not like A-Rod. We could point to his suspension for steroids for the entire 2014 season. We could talk about his interview with Peter Gammons where he claimed the only time he used was in 2001-2002 while he was in Texas and that he didn’t even know what substance he used. Or we could talk about how he announced to the world that he was opting out of his contract with the Yankees during the 2007 World Series. I could keep listing reasons why Alex Rodriguez is not popular in general, but specifically if there is a fan base renowned for hating him it’s the Red Sox fans. Steve Buckley, along with the rest of the baseball world, knows this quite well.
Some of our reasons are rational and some aren’t. Some are thin and stretch the limits of why we wouldn’t like someone and some of them involve the freaking 2004 ALDS and A-Rod slapping the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s hand and then acting all surprised when the umpires got together and called his ball slapping ass out.
Red Sox fans do not like Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod knows this. Steve Buckley knows this. Most importantly, the Boston Red Sox know this. They didn’t ignore his home run on Friday to show solidarity with the Yankees. I’d like to think they ignored it to show solidarity with the Red Sox fans.
(For the record, Dr. Charles Steinberg claims the intent was to acknowledge it during A-Rod’s next at-bat but he didn’t get one in that game.)
There are many, many people who believe home runs 1-654 (we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for 2015 just for the sake of argument) are irreparably tainted. Good for you if you are not one of those people, but at least understand not only that people feel this way but why. And if you can’t figure out why then you with your head in the sand and your eyes blinded by Yankees pinstripes are part of the problem.
I will be terribly disappointed if the Red Sox do decide to apologize to him.
In my opinion, what the Red Sox did Friday night wasn’t to disrespect Alex Rodriguez it was to show respect to their fans. If A-Rod wanted respect he should have gone about it a completely different way. If anyone owes an apology it’s A-Rod. For pretty much everything he’s ever done. And he should issue it every single day of the rest of his life.
Because, really, screw that guy.
I’m currently working at an accounting firm which means I have very little in the way of a life until April 16th. While I’m watching the Cubs/Cardinals game on ESPN tonight, I will most likely miss 11 if not 12 of the 14 games being played on Monday – including the Red Sox/Phillies game at 3pm.
So I need you all to enjoy the hell out of Opening Day for me. I know you won’t let me down.
More to come this season. For now, please enjoy possibly the best video ever created.
Everyone has probably seen this today but I’m posting it anyway. I want it here because I want to watch it over and over again.
People will most definitely come.
In September of 2003 a friend and I went to a baseball card show solely for the purpose of meeting Kevin Millar and David Ortiz who were there doing signings. At the time they were both new favorites of the fans and not the icons they are now but we knew they were special and wanted to share our affection with them.
It was a fun, if not relatively expensive, day and the memories from it include getting my photo taken with Kevin Millar (at the time my favorite player on the team) and getting to see Millar and Big Papi interacting off the field the way we would become used to seeing them on the field, like two kids just enjoying the heck out of where they were in life.
The friend I attended with was someone I met online (Hi Pam!) and this was our first time meeting in person. We’ve since become close friends but you never know how these things will work out. Would we get on each other’s nerves? Would we find each other weird? The moment I knew we were destined to be great friends was when, after we met the players and just were walking around the event, she stopped to talk with someone who was promoting the idea that Major League Baseball should reinstate Pete Rose. Pam, who is quite the soft, spoken, gentle soul, lit into this man and gave him a lesson in why she didn’t think he belonged there. I knew right then we’d be lifelong friends.
Any baseball fan can tell you what a polarizing subject Pete Rose is when fans start the discussion. I’ve witnessed an argument that turned into a broken friendship over this very subject. I wish that was an exaggeration but it isn’t. The argument became so heated that other unrelated things came out and before anyone knew what was happening we watched the friendship dissolve right in front of us.
I don’t know that I’ve ever met any baseball fan whose stance on Pete Rose was “I don’t care.” (And please feel free to tell me you don’t care!) People seem to either absolutely not want him anywhere near baseball (Cyn raises her hand) or they bring up all of the other horrible people who are currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame (or in a position to be in the Hall of Fame eventually) and compare them to Rose. “Is gambling as bad as being a racist?” (Say hey, Ty Cobb) People bring up the players with domestic violence in their history, or the drug addicts or the players who collect DUIs the way we used to collect Garbage Pail Kids. Compared to their failings, Pete Rose defenders think gambling isn’t close to the worst a player in MLB could do.
Listen, I get it. Generally speaking people can be pretty terrible. Including, if not especially, athletes. So if we’re looking for 30 teams in MLB to fill their rosters with choirboys we will be extremely disappointed. No one, least of all me, is expecting these men to be perfect. I’d just like the bar to be set a little higher than, say, “At least he isn’t a murderer.”
While I am certainly in the camp of fans who are happy that 2015 begins the era of a Bud Selig-less MLB, one of my worries about a new commissioner was how he or she (she, ha-ha…I crack me up) would treat the Pete Rose situation.
Earlier this month, new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced that Pete Rose has sent him a formal request asking that his lifetime ban be lifted. Manfred has essentially said that he’s going to go over the Dowd Report and Bart Giamatti’s decision and mull all of that over along with giving Pete Rose’s argument consideration. This all sounds perfectly fair in my mind. Go over the evidence presented and make a decision based on a request his office received. So even though I find it completely logical to do it, why does it chap my ass so much?
If I think about it long enough I can figure it out. People are, for the most part, a forgiving group. Tell us your sorry and we’ll forgive you. Even if we never forget, more often than not you’ll get your second chance. So I think part of my concern is that Rob Manfred might be looking at Pete Rose, who’ll be 74 this month, and instead of focusing on what he did and that he agreed to the ban and then spent years denying he did anything wrong, he’ll think about an older man who only wants his accomplishments acknowledged and he’ll give in. And that truly annoys me to no end.
If you take a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame (which every fan should definitely try to do) you’ll find that Pete Rose and his accomplishments are well represented there. Now I understand Rose and his supporters want is that plaque. They want his face cast in bronze with his Reds cap on and a brief bio below in that elite group of his contemporaries and those who paved the way before him. In my opinion, he should have thought of that before he knowingly broke what was at the time pretty much baseball’s most serious rule (and then, after agreeing to the ban, lying about it for years).
I know people aren’t perfect and I really don’t even believe in striving for perfection. As long as you aren’t a jackass, we’re good. But in Pete’s case he knew from the get-go that what he was doing would run him the risk of losing what he loved…baseball. And yet he still did it and then lied about it for years. I have no problem living in a world where Pete Rose isn’t enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. ESPECIALLY because his achievements are there. What he did as a baseball player won’t be forgotten but neither will what he did to get himself booted out of baseball. Fair’s fair.
Fair warning. This entry will be completely void of any kind of rational perspective. I pretty much adore Pedro Martinez more than half the people I’m related to…and I’m related to a boatload of people. So you’ve been warned.
Oh yeah…there will be language…salty language ahead. So there’s that too.