by Duncan Clair (@duncanclair)
As Kris Bryant charged the weak grounder and threw to Anthony Rizzo for the final out, it meant a lot of things to a lot of people. For Cleveland fans, it was heartbreak, perhaps with a dash of begrudging appreciation for witnessing history. For Cubs fans, it was elation at arriving to an unimaginable place, halting a drought of unfathomable length. Many people loved this team for a lifetime and perished before the Cubs made good on the promise every team makes to its fans: that they will experience glory. For many people who sat at arms-length from being an arms-length from this series, one man came to mind.
“Bartman is forgiven”
“Bartman is free”
“Bartman can come home again”
“Redemption for Bartman”
And so on…
These sentiments are awful, and they can fuck off.
Let alone that immediately rushing to publicly bless this man’s access to anonymity is counter intuitive by nature, it’s total bullshit, because Steve Bartman owes nothing to anyone, least of all the passion and community that betrayed him.
Bartman’s treatment was not a dark exception in the pandemonium of a playoff run. There was no sober second thought the morning after at the vilification of a man – a customer – who did nothing wrong. Instead Bartman’s unwitting place in Cubs history was long ago cemented, perpetuated, and made to be a spectacle. It was quite literally capitalized on. This is the man we are imploring the Cubs to “forgive.”
It’s as unsettling as ever that a man who never opted into public life can be made a mascot, even after the devastation beset on him is common knowledge. It’s another example of our appeasement for mob “justice” and our collective desire to play god with members of our own species when given the chance.
If we want to reconcile our own guilt for being distant passengers to the ruin of a man’s life, then so be it, but to demand anything of him for a nanosecond of his time is to perpetuate his treatment, not as a peer, but as a character to be killed and resurrected at our whim.
The unbridled sanctimony of celebrating the exoneration of a man who objectively did nothing wrong is shameful. Steve Bartman is not in need of forgiveness. I can’t imagine what he is in need of. I have no idea what justice, for him, looks like. I hope he was happy last night. I also completely understand if he didn’t watch a single play.