Last night, on the exact 10th anniversary of the 2003 Chicago Cubs season-ending defeat to the Florida Marlins in Game 7 of the NLCS, Comcast SportsNet Chicago aired a documentary about that memorable season which is forever remembered by the Steve Bartman game. WGN Radio and CSN Chicago television host David Kaplan is one of the main stars of the film, and one particular segment from his interview stole the show.
The doc is entitled “5 Outs” and has a running time of 90 minutes. It re-airs tonight at 10:30 PM CDT.
David Kaplan received a phone call from the station saying a fan was trying to reach him off-the-air that night. He authorized them to give out his cell phone and the fan called Kaplan.
“We’ve got his address, he’ll be dead by midnight,” the crazed fan said to Kaplan regarding Bartman.
“And I said excuse me,” David Kaplan responded.
“We know who it is, he lives in Northbrook, he’ll be dead by midnight.”
“I said dude you got to relax this is a baseball game.”
“It’s not a baseball game, it’s our life, and he’s going to pay for what he did”
WOW! Talk about frightening fandom gone way too far. This is right up there with some of the worst English soccer hooligans.
David Kaplan continued:
“I remember calling the station and telling them we need to call the police, we might have some problems. Then we got word that there was already police on his street and he was going to be fine.
Then I became Chicago’s therapist on the Cubs radio network…it’s not this guy’s fault, he did not keep the Cubs from the World series, but people were at that moment livid, it’s like they found out there’s a witch living in the village and they had to go where this witch was and take care of the problem. It was scary, I’ve never seen a fanbase so out of control.”
It re-airs tonight at 10:30 PM CDT.
In a week in which Steve Bartman dominated the local media conversation, and made a big impact in the national conversation, I heard the same things over and over and over again. Finally, David Kaplan told me something I didn’t know. Something very compelling and interesting. “5 Outs” is certainly as good as or better than ESPN Films 30 for 30 “Catching Hell.”
The story of the frightening fellow who called David Kaplan tells us exactly why Bartman has chosen to remain silent and private these past ten years. He’s scared for his well-being, and wants to stay out of the spotlight. He turned down all the money and the fame (well, he’s already famous, but he could have another level of additional fame if he so desires) to remain reclusive.
And he does it out of fear for his safety. Nothing more, nothing less. He doesn’t do it because he’s supposedly “above it all,” like some media have said. That’s a very dumb narrative: the idea of Steve Bartman being self-actualized and morally superior to those of us who would capitalize on the situation. The media painting Bartman as a transcendent figure are complete idiots.
Bartman wants to be left alone and we should respect that. But let’s not turn him from a Cubs fan who was in the wrong place at the wrong time into Mahatma Gandhi or the Dalai Lama. The fact that he turns down interview requests and endorsements doesn’t make him mysterious, more interesting or better than us. He’s just a guy who never wanted to be infamous in the first place; and doesn’t want to be famous now.
So let him go.
Let’s not bother with any formal procedures of forgiving him, or welcoming him back to Wrigley. Just forget about him. Stop talking about him. The way to repair the situation of unjust vilification of Bartman is to call less attention to it. Not more.
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. He’s also an analyst for multiple news talk radio stations across the world; with regular weekly segments on NBC, CBS and Fox Sports Radio. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks) , Facebook and RSS feedPowered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks