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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

NLCS Aftermath

It would be going overboard to say that this is a great week to be a White Sox fan, but you can easily say that it is a lot better being a Sox fan now than it has been for the past three weeks. 

I’m not saying that I’m rejoicing at the Cubs defeat at the hands of the Florida Marlins.  In fact the Marlins victory, putting them in the World Series for the second time in less than a decade of existence, does more to point out the futility of the Sox more than anything I can think of.   

The important thing is that Cubs fans have a whole lot less to gloat about, and White Sox fans can at least publicly speculate about our club's future.  The media now are forced to discuss stories about who the next Sox manager will be and what players will be returning and who will be leaving over the next few months

The best part of all, however, is that the whole world has had a chance to see Cubs fandom in all their glory, and the conclusion reached by the national media did not paint a pretty picture of them.  Beginning with the eighth inning of game six of the NLCS, the pettiness and stupidity of Cubs fans took the spotlight for all to see. 

It all began with a foul ball and a hapless fan.  It continued with the editorial board of a certain newspaper that is not affiliated with the Cubs in any way turning the poor guy’s life into hell, and the end is not in sight. 

You have to pity Steve Bartman.  He had pretty good tickets to game 6 of the NLCS, and the Cubs were winning in the eighth inning.  Just five outs to go.  But fate intervened and changed his life forever.  You see, Bartman committed the mortal sin of reaching up for a foul ball.  Moises Alou just happened to be reaching up for the same ball, but it deflected off Bartman’s hands. 

Alou started the controversy that shouldn’t have been by screaming and jumping up and down, obviously complaining that the fans surrounding the ball had prevented him from catching it.  After watching the slow motion replay about 3,527 times, I’m still not convinced that the ball wouldn’t have deflected off the fingertips of Alou’s glove. 

Once the fans who were reaching for the ball saw how angry Alou was, and once the booing started, the ones surrounding Bartman began pointing at him as the culprit who deflected the ball away from Alou.  The shower of beer and assorted garbage that Bartman was pelted with made the area around him look like a Glenbrook North powder puff football game.  It was so bad that Bartman had to be escorted from his seat by Cubs security to chants of “A******!  A******!” 

The next day most of the local media did the right thing.  Most outlets, including the Chicago Tribune and WGN radio and television would not reveal Bartman’s name, even though they were in possession of the information. 

That’s where the Sun-Times editorial board comes in.  They made the decision to print Bartman’s name and workplace on their web site.  Their excuse?  “This is the biggest news story of the day, and this is Chicago.”  Whatever that means.  So much for media restraint.  Bartman’s life became hell.  

Camera crews parked outside his house.  The obligatory questions to neighbors followed.  The same questions these vultures ask about the psychotic who shoots up an office before turning the gun on himself.  You know.  The questions that always get the answer, “He was quiet and kept to himself.  I never dreamed….” 

Bartman actually had to have a spokesman read a statement of apology for his “actions.”  The type of apology you would expect from a disgraced politician like Mel Reynolds.  The entire incident didn’t border on the bizarre.  It went way over the line. 

The fact that Gov. Jeb Bush and several Florida businessmen offered him “asylum” only made Bartman seem more like some kind of traitor.  The only good news is that Hollywood is now considering making a film about the incident.  One can only hope that Bartman receives some kind of royalty for this to help alleviate all of the misery he’s had to go through for no reason. 

Cubs fans managed to make idiots of themselves even without the revelation of Bartman’s name.  Those looking for a convenient excuse for the Marlins scoring eight runs in the inning alternately blamed Bartman and the Billy Goat Curse as the source of the Cubs’ miserable play for the next ten and two-thirds innings. 

No, it had nothing to do with Prior giving up ball four after the foul ball that Bartman touched.  It had nothing to do with Alex Gonzales’s error and the utter collapse of Mark “Messiah” Prior.  It had nothing to do with the Kerry Wood pitching like Neal Cotts in game seven.  It had nothing to do with Dusy Baker’s using Dave Veres instead of Matt Clement when game seven was on the line. 

Cubs fans were split as to the real cause of the disaster.  The more intellectual Cubs fans blamed the goat while the rest blamed Bartman.  The vitriol spewed out against the poor schmuck over the next few days by both factions was embarrassing, and it was out there for everyone to see. 

What can you say about a group of fans who refuse to place the blame for their team’s failure on the players and manager but instead blame a fan for tipping a foul ball or a goat?  In the aftermath of all this, it is likely that the only people who will not be able to see the vileness, pettiness, and stupidity of Cubs fans will be from Boston.


Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at hvickery@svs.com.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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