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.
With these manager openings popping up in the National League (in the last week Theo Epstein fired Mike Quade and Tony LaRussa retired), it shouldn’t surprise me that Terry Francona’s name is being bandied about…and it doesn’t surprise me, but it makes me a bit melancholy for the time before September 2011.
I want Tito to continue to be successful in baseball if that’s what he’s looking to do…but I don’t know that I’m ready for him to be someone else’s manager. He’s still ours, in my mind. And more than anything, I certainly don’t want to see him going to Chicago. I know we’re supposed to be moving on but watching both Theo in Tito working together with another team would be something really tough for me to get past.
Still trying to decide if I’m high on either Pete Mackanin or Dale Sveum as Red Sox manager. I’ll admit to being a bit more intrigued with the idea of either Sandy Alomar, Jr., or Mike Maddux, though. If we had Alomar in Boston just think of all the amusement WEEI could get out of pretending he was his brother and making spitting jokes. Ah, the hilarity that would ensue!
Really, though, I like Sandy and would like to hear more from and about him. Mike Maddux’s moustache would distract me terribly. Sometimes, I’m just that shallow.
For all the activity around the Red Sox this off-season, it still seems too quiet. Nothing major happening (unless you count David Ortiz sharing the news that the Red Sox didn’t make him a contract offer prior to yesterday’s deadline. He’s now, officially, on the free agent market, along with Jonathan Papelbon and the rest of the guys ~ oh yeah, and the Red Sox fired strength and conditioning coach Dave Page and assistant athletic trainer Greg Barajas…that should make some of the bloodthirsty throng happy); it feels like the, relative, calm before the massive storm.
Maybe I’m projecting from a place totally unrelated to baseball, but I can’t shake the feeling that as big as losing Theo and Tito were to this team, there’s another blockbuster of some sort around the corner. I so look forward to Truck Day, when all of this is behind us.
So it’s official. Theo Epstein is the new President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs. The announcement came around 10pm last night and the press conferences from the Cubs and Red Sox will come on Tuesday, the next off-day for the World Series. I thought I’d feel different than I do.
I thought I’d be fine with Theo moving on, and part of me is. Part of me believes that if the team is going to make changes this time why not go whole hog? Although I suppose it could be argued that moving from Theo Epstein to Ben Cherington (a move that hasn’t been made official yet) isn’t that huge a change. I feel some comfort in having Cherington in there….like a small piece of Theo is still around I guess…but I woke up this morning to discover that I was a little sad about Theo going. I feel like my younger brother just left home and I know he won’t be calling, not even on Sundays or holidays.
There will never be a way to fully describe how the Red Sox victory in 2004 changed my life. Some call it hyperbole, but it truly did (and there are many folks who understand because it changed their lives too). 2007 was the cherry on that sundae and for those two things I don’t think there will ever be enough ways to truly thank Theo…but I do. I thank Theo Epstein with all my heart for helping bring this area some joy and some peace.
So I’m okay with him moving on but not as okay as I thought I was…if that makes any sense. I wish him happiness in Chicago but not luck. And that has nothing to do with him. I just can’t wish luck to a team whose fan base did what the Cubs fans did to Steve Bartman. I keep tweeting about it and I wrote about it over the summer, but the film Catching Hell has forever tainted how I feel about the Cubs fans and I wish them another 100 years of losing.
There is also a part of me not too happy that Theo is bailing on the team with a year on his contract and leaving us with the mess that he is leaving us with…but I suppose in a post written to say “thank you” and “goodbye” I shouldn’t dwell on that too much. We have a good four months to flesh that one out.
Ultimately, my strongest emotion right now is relief. I feel like once they get a general manager in there they’re that much closer to getting a manager and that will bring us closer to moving the hell on. Tuesday can’t come soon enough.
For the love of all that is good in the world could we just get some closure in the Theo Epstein saga?
I’m begging here.
I didn’t think anything would be worse than the “They’re close to a deal….they aren’t close to a deal” stories coming out every ten minutes…but now we have the “They’re close to announcing the deal…they aren’t anywhere near announcing the deal” and I just sit here and shake my head. Do it, don’t do it…at this point I couldn’t care less I just want the Red Sox to be able to move on. With or without Theo, at this point it makes no nevermind to me. Just freaking do it.
Although I will say this, the one aspect of this that I’m enjoying is how, seemingly, the Red Sox aren’t rolling over for the Cubs. Theo is the one who is breaking his contract, the Cubs are the team getting one of the best General Managers in baseball, so the Red Sox absolutely deserve something more than a little cash or a few throwaway players. There is a part of me, though, that will just be happy for it to be all over, regardless of what the Red Sox get for Theo. (But I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’d consider it well worth it all if somehow John Lackey is pitching somewhere that isn’t Fenway Park.)
In a move I didn’t think possible, the Boston Red Sox saga became even more surreal yesterday when Principal Owner John Henry showed up at the 98.5 The Sports Hub (or as WEEI called it “CBS Radio”) and responded to being asked why he was there with:
“Well, when you’re misleading the public, you should be challenged on some of the things you’re saying so I’m here to challenge some of the things you’ve been saying.”
And they were off.
I’ve listened to the interview twice now and read just about every local writer’s interpretation of it and yet I’m still not completely sure how I feel about it all.
Some thoughts in a not particularly well-formed presentation:
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.
Between the spirited live chat and the great game we got, last night was an awful lot of fun. Thanks to Tim Wakefield, the Red Sox and all the folks who joined in the chat!
I know there are plenty of folks who think Tim Wakefield should hang up his cleats for good, but I’ve never bee one of those people and last night only reinforces my belief that he is more helpful than hurtful being on this team. On top of that, I find him extremely entertaining to watch pitch, especially when, like last night, his knuckle ball is moving.
Regardless of the fact that they didn’t sweep, the Red Sox found out this weekend that Aceves and Wakefield filling in for Lackey and Matsuzaka might not be as horrible a prospect as folks thought before the weekend began. There are definitely reasons to be hopeful!
Once again, though, we have no time to dwell (this time on the good) because the Sox are back at it tonight when the Red Sox hit Cleveland. Justin Masterson will be on the mound for the Tribe against Clay Buchholz. I will always consider myself a Masterson fan and every time he takes the mound I hope he pitches well. Except tonight. No, I will not be less upset about a loss because it comes at the hands of Mr. Masterson so let’s hope it doesn’t come to that tonight.
Considering adding a few more live chats into the weekly schedule since the chats we’ve held so far have had such a good response. If you folks would be up for it, I can work something out with my own schedule. For now, I think the next one will be on Tuesday when Josh Beckett takes on Fausto Carmona at Progressive Field. Both the Wednesday and Thursday games are afternoon games (Wednesday at 12pm and Thursday at 1pm) and I’m not sure folks will be around then to chat If I get a sense that folks would like to do it, I might work in a Wednesday afternoon live chat as well.
Being a half a game out of first place after the terrible start doesn’t stink at all.
No time to be glum about one loss…the series win is still in reach! Join us tonight when the Red Sox put Tim Wakefield on the mound against James Russell filling in for Cubs starter and old frenemy Matt Garza (suffering from elbow tightness).
I like that even after getting upset during a game I can wake up and think “Yeah, that happened. On to another game”.
I get that they wanted to rest Bard. But I hate the idea of not using your closer (when he’s only one of two pitchers available in the bullpen) because you don’t want him in there for a two-inning save in May. I also don’t get the action of not using Morales earlier than they did. But the game is over and lost and thankfully there isn’t much time to dwell on it.
Of course, if/when Bard gets into tonight’s game, after our being told he got a couple of nights off to rest him, my head just might explode.
…is that I’m very disappointed and really have no desire to rehash any part of this game, not even the good parts, as few as there were. I get one loss after seven wins isn’t that big a deal (and agree with it) but that eighth inning was an embarrassment on so many different levels that I reserve the right to be disappointed with my team once in a while even if, in the long run, this loss means nothing. I am, after all, human. So give me some slack because right now I’m pretty annoyed.
I truly hope Marlon Byrd is okay because that scared the heck out of me and looked really painful.
Still Live Chatting tomorrow night…at least they won’t be facing Matt Garza!