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No, not that Bartman.
July 9, 2005 4:58 PM   Subscribe

Searching for Bartman. A sports reporter’s account of his efforts to land an interview with “the most reclusive man in sports,” Steve Bartman. Bartman is the baseball fan blamed by many Chicago Cubs fans for preventing the Cubs from reaching the World Series in 2003 when he arguably interfered with a catch at a key point in the game. He received massive attention and ridicule after the incident, but never spoke to the media about it, except he released a short statement the day after the game.
posted by brain_drain (32 comments total)

 
I read this earlier today. What a worthless article... essentially a recap of two year old events with one sentence of new commentary (which boils down to "no comment") from the key figure. How lame they must have felt @ ESPN having to post this...
posted by jonson at 5:18 PM on July 9, 2005


Interesting. I was wondering about two days ago what happened to him, but forgot. Thanks for the post.
posted by rolypolyman at 5:27 PM on July 9, 2005


Bartman's holding out until he can get into the 2028 SI "Where are they now" issue
posted by RobbieFal at 6:02 PM on July 9, 2005


He probably switched over and is a White Sox fan this year.
posted by sexymofo at 6:22 PM on July 9, 2005


i saw the game on tv ... the cubs let this little incident get to them and choked ... big time ... people would rather blame bartman than just admit that their team blew it
posted by pyramid termite at 6:44 PM on July 9, 2005


Go Marlins!
posted by oddman at 6:55 PM on July 9, 2005


Poor guy. Whether or not Alou had a play the Cubs blew that game big-time, giving up eight runs in two innings and a three-run lead AFTER the Bartman incident.

One play never loses a game. This guy's life is now sh*t.

People really suck sometimes.
posted by Opposite George at 7:08 PM on July 9, 2005


The Cubs.. Do they score a lot of touchdowns?
posted by Nelson at 7:32 PM on July 9, 2005


People should leave the guy alone. Moises Alou is the biggest crybaby in sports for how he acted after that. If Alou would've gone back to his position after the ball went out of play instead of having a fit, Prior would've been able to keep his head on the mound. Not to mention Alex S. Gonzalez botching a routine grounder. What a pathetic franchise. Thanks for bringing that up again brain_drain.....
posted by Arch Stanton at 7:34 PM on July 9, 2005


Get. Over. It.
posted by apple scruff at 7:37 PM on July 9, 2005


"Most reclusive man in sports"?

I don't follow sports (at all), but shouldn't one actually partake in a sport before earning that title? Seems like this is just some guy who's better off left alone.
posted by jimmy at 7:56 PM on July 9, 2005


good point jimmy ... it's funny how our society assumes that the natural thing is to allow thousands, maybe millions of people to poke all through our lives and that wanting to live like a normal person would be considered "reclusive"
posted by pyramid termite at 8:52 PM on July 9, 2005


Agreed. An absolutely worthless article. For the record, the Cubs suck, and so do their worthless sad sack loser fans. I was living in Chicago at the time, and I was pulling for them for sentimental reasons, but I was absolutely disgusted by the cravenness that the local press and the Cubs fans demonstrated in the aftermath of this incident.

As Opposite George and others point out above, the Cubs went on to give up 8 runs that inning. EIGHT. Steve Bartman had NOTHING to do with any of them. And if the Cubs had an ounce of championship grit, it would have been nothing to get the last out that inning. The Cubs play gutless baseball the rest of the way, and they deserved the outcome that they got.
posted by psmealey at 9:31 PM on July 9, 2005


IN OTHER NEWS: SO-CALLED "DRACULA" HAS FEET OF CLAY
posted by jenovus at 9:46 PM on July 9, 2005


The Cubs suck and who cares about baseball and all the other snarky stuff posters have written above....but, this is a really great piece of feature writing and should be taken as such. Thanks for the post.
posted by photoslob at 10:57 PM on July 9, 2005


I don't think the Cubs suck, and I do care about baseball, and I'm not being snarky when I say that I can't understand why on Earth you'd find this a really great piece of feature writing?? I'd love to see what you think is a shallow exercise in creating false dramatic tension...

Waiting to meet Bartman, exchanging one sentence with him and driving home? Less value than the average USA today article.
posted by jonson at 11:58 PM on July 9, 2005


Yet not a single Simpsons referene. I'm disappointed.
posted by TwelveTwo at 12:43 AM on July 10, 2005


Reference.
posted by TwelveTwo at 12:46 AM on July 10, 2005


I am a die-hard Cubs fan. I have never blamed Steve Bartman for what happened that night, and I never will. Hell, anyone at Wrigley could have been in that seat, and almost all of them would have stuck out a hand.

That Cubs team didn't deserve to be in a World Series if they collapsed following that play. You think the Yankees would collapse? The Big Red Machine? Even those '03 Marlins? Nope. They'd keep rolling, acting as if they'd been there before. These guys didn't know how. Alou fell apart, Prior fell apart, Gonzalez fell apart. Ballgame.

The pressure of being the Chicago Cubs Five Outs From The Series was enough to screw it all up, not some innocent fool's mistake.

I like this article. I like that Drehs was nervous and paranoid. It's the perspective of an average Cubs fan attempting to track down the man who has undeservedly become the ultimate goat of a fanbase that collects goats as a hobby. Drehs doesn't need to get anything "new" out of poor old Steve to make this article effective. Bartman made his statement. What else can he really say?

I don't think the final aim of the article was to build tension or report the answers to burning questions. He was more "Cubs Fan" than "ESPN Investigator," and good for him. I don't need to read an in-Steve's-face papparazzi piece. I like that he didn't throw out a question at the close, and that he ended with that apology instead.

Breathing some life into the Bartman caricature is good enough, and the apology at the end made it even better. If I were Drehs, I think I would have ended the conversation the same way.
posted by sellout at 1:33 AM on July 10, 2005


Well said, sellout.

I don't know baseball from cricket, have no interest in sports whatsoever, but I thoroughly enjoyed the article. For me, it was about the obsessive nature of sports fans, and how they deal with the irrational and chance events that sometimes seem to determine winning or losing.

I'd never heard of Bartman or the incident before, so that was all interesting, though somewhat immaterial because the real subject of this kind of feature is invariably the writer and the things that he shares in common with all of us.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:02 AM on July 10, 2005


In other (read real) sports news: Anybody see stage 8 or the tour yesterday? That was awesome!
posted by Chuckles at 3:25 AM on July 10, 2005


Heck, any team can have a bad century.
posted by scottymac at 6:38 AM on July 10, 2005


I like this article. I like that Drehs was nervous and paranoid. It's the perspective of an average Cubs fan...

Oh, for shitting in the sink (as my mother-in-law says). This guy is not "an average Cubs fan," he's a reporter. He's doing what reporters do, which is to be assholes to ordinary people and dress it up in a fetching garment of words. (Apologies to the reporters in the crowd, but I remember from an earlier thread that some of you do realize this, even if you think it's necessary for informing the public and yada yada—my response to which is that the public needs to know about the misdeeds of the rich and powerful, not Steve Bartman—go pester them and leave the rest of us alone.) If he weren't a reporter, he'd either ignore Bartman like a sensible person or harass him anyway without the professional excuse. But you do grasp, I hope, that when he says "I desperately want to understand more" he means "I desperately want to get my story prominently placed so I can get a leg up in my career."
posted by languagehat at 8:47 AM on July 10, 2005


Cub fans are so precious, it's cute to watch them try hailing cabs when they come to Milwaukee, or thinking it's the height of machismo to boast about the cubs in a local bar. Hey, our team went to the World Series in '82, how about you?
posted by drezdn at 10:00 AM on July 10, 2005


languagehat:

This guy is not "an average Cubs fan," he's a reporter. He's doing what reporters do, which is to be assholes to ordinary people and dress it up in a fetching garment of words.

Okay, I think I've misrepresented my point. I shouldn't say that the entire article is "average fan" perspective -- it's not, and that's my fault for implying so.

In general, that perspective isn't found in the tracking-down process. It's found in the section where Drehs attaches some humanity to Bartman, has a conversation with him about the Cubs, and shakes his hand. Drehs' voice has changed. He's no longer the reporter who "desperately needs to find out more," he's just an apologetic fan.

In my view, that part is representative of the thoughts and feelings any reasonable fan might have in that encounter. I like that.

It's true, the whole section might just be a bunch of dumb show and fetching garment. I don't know. But it appeals to me.

But you do grasp, I hope, that when he says "I desperately want to understand more" he means "I desperately want to get my story prominently placed so I can get a leg up in my career."

Oh, I'm sure you're right. But as a Cubs fan, I'd like to think that that mentality moves aside at "But my brain -- and my heart -- veer to the left."

At the beginning, Drehs' goal is just to find out more. By the end, I think he's gone past that. He's striving to shed some positive light on the villainous Steve Bartman, emphasize his normality and innocence, and publicly make peace with the poor guy. And I say good for him.

drezdn: Well, our ballpark is pretty nice. And Derrek Lee is a swell guy.
posted by sellout at 1:24 PM on July 10, 2005


But it appeals to me.

Well, of course it does—that's why he wrote it that way! Mind you, I'm not saying it's "just a bunch of dumb show and fetching garment"; I don't know (or particularly care) how he actually feels about it. For all I know, every word is literally true. But it's equally possible it's pure journalistic prowess, doing the whole post-Tom Wolfe "I celebrate myself" New Journalism routine, all persona and flair and a minimum of annoying research... which wouldn't bother me a bit if it didn't involve fucking with the lives of ordinary people who didn't ask to be fucked with.

Also, as a baseball fan who grew up rooting for the equally hapless Washington Senators ("First in war, first in peace, and last in the American League") I feel your pain. And you definitely have the best ballpark in America; I've been at Fenway and (Old) Comiskey, the other contenders, and Wrigley is tops, no question. That should be some consolation for all your travails.
posted by languagehat at 1:45 PM on July 10, 2005


The article seemed to end prematurely (unless there was a "next page" that I missed) - did Bartman's legal team ever get back to the author? It ends on what feels like a cliffhanger but is presented as a conclusion.
posted by stevil at 1:46 PM on July 10, 2005


Well, of course it does—that's why he wrote it that way!

No doubt.

But it's equally possible it's pure journalistic prowess

Certainly. But I'm a Cubs fan. Stupidly, eternally optimistic. :)

which wouldn't bother me a bit if it didn't involve fucking with the lives of ordinary people who didn't ask to be fucked with

I agree with you here, but given all the blame that's been heaped on Steve Bartman, he's moved somewhere beyond the realm of ordinary people. He's infamous, though he clearly doesn't deserve to be. I'd say this article takes strides to pull him back from "unfortunately extraordinary" to "ordinary." Bartman deserves no less.

And oh god, imagine if they'd sent a White Sox fan to find and interview Bartman. Now that would have resulted in poor Steve being fucked with. This was an unpleasant, probably inappropriate task. A Cubs fan like Drehs was the right person to send, and if the encounter actually went as he describes, I think he handled himself pretty well.

Senators? Ouch. Are we talking Harmon Killebrew Senators or Ted Williams Senators? (Either way though, ouch.)

And no question, visiting Wrigley is a must for any baseball fan. Incredible place. No Jumbotron, no hard rock on the loudspeakers. Bad baseball, but a great atmosphere.
posted by sellout at 2:21 PM on July 10, 2005


Are we talking Harmon Killebrew Senators or Ted Williams Senators?

The former. I suppose I should make that clear when I mention the affiliation, since I always wind up having to clarify, but I have a deep-seated resistance to even admitting the existence of the latter. I mean, just compare the caps—that clean, crisp sans-serif W versus that squiggly cursive thing...

Mind you, when the Senators moved to Minnesota (thanks to racist old Cal Griffith, but I didn't know that then) I became a Twins fan; after all, the team was the same, they just changed cities, and I didn't live in DC anyway. But my poor father, a Foreign Service lifer, felt obliged to support the Washington team no matter what, even if it was a pathetic expansion team that was guaranteed to be lousy for years to come, whereas the team he'd been rooting for had just graduated from hapless to promising (it was the Roy Sievers for Earl Battey trade that got things moving... but I digress) and would reach the World Series only a few years later. I still hurt inside thinking of the last game of the '65 Series; we'd beaten both Koufax and Drysdale the first time around, and Koufax was pitching on only two days' rest... but I digress again, and you don't want to hear somebody grumping about a Series loss. Hold your head up high, and remember: ya gotta believe!
posted by languagehat at 2:44 PM on July 10, 2005


He has a "legal team" yet lives with his parents....hmmmm
posted by cpchester at 2:45 PM on July 10, 2005


The Cubs suck and who cares about baseball

Asking the question 'who cares about baseball' is like asking the question 'who cares about movies'. I mean, come on, hundreds of millions of people care about it. Go to the Dominican Republic or Cuba and ask that question. I'll never understand that attitude. I don't care about Buffy the Vampire Slayer but I'd never pretend that nobody else does.
posted by spicynuts at 7:28 AM on July 11, 2005


I thought the article was interesting and entertaining, particularly the part where the author asks 100 Chicagoans if they know the name Steve Bartman and fewer than 30 do.
posted by JanetLand at 7:27 AM on July 12, 2005


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