Stop White Knighting for Steve Bartman

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.



1 Comment

  1. WINNERS make no excuses! OTHERS…blame it on a Billy goat or actually sink as low as to publicly, permanently crucify an innocent fan who simply made a – simply out of instinct – mistake. Ten others in the stands surrounding him were right in the vicinity with their hands out; could have easily been any of them. And if it WAS any of the others, they would have been unfairly crucified by Cubs nation as well, but perhaps not quite as much. Because Bartman at least had the ‘image’ (don’t know the guy) of an ineffectual sensitive ‘nerd’ with headphones, it was ‘easier’ for those (specifically cowards/bullies) to lash out at him harder than they would have otherwise (if it was, say, some seemingly confident guy’s-guy minimally flustered by his mistake; head still held up).

    The choking Cubs players and the Marlin players who capitalized along with the coaches of both teams are the reason for the ’03 Cubs not wrapping things up and no one else. Alou’s ridiculous reaction and the one who said he “wouldn’t pardon” Bartman if he ever were convicted of a crime…

    It’s all this that made me want the Cubs to go another 100 years before winning another. They don’t deserve a fan like Steve who, mind you, is STILL a Cubs-fan while never ever wanting to cash-in or make celebrity out of his notoriety-status. If I were Steve I seriously would have taken the Marlins’ offer to have him move to Miami and live for free, or whatever the actual offer was. I would have easily converted to Marlin Nation!

    And that’s just it – as a Yankee-fan, and say what you want about us, we would have NEVER blamed it on Bartman! Yes, he would have gotten some gruff, especially from our beloved Bleacher Creatures, but before long all blame would go to the TEAM itself in such a choke. “Well you guys win 27+ World Titles a century.” EXACTLY! And WINNERS make no excuses! Nor, like cowards, stomp hard on a poor kid!

    Quite hypocritical for these same Cub-fans to now say, “We ‘forgive’ you now”. Hogwash! Steve Bartman owes you NOTHING! You all owe HIM…for Life!

    To Steve and to those ‘good’ Cub-fans who never at all blamed him (or a Billy goat for that matter)…Congrats to your first World Title since 1908. To all OTHERS…I really wished that black cat could have made another run around home last night. I really wish!


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