A lot of sports related people, as themselves.
Scott Turow: It’s like the guy who’s been divorced six times but still believes in love. That’s just what it is to be a Cubs fan.
Documentary examining two specific plays in sports history – Steve Bartman interfering with a foul ball in the stands at a Cubs World Series game and Bill Buckner’s error for Boston in the 1986 World Series – and how those plays, and individuals, were used as scapegoats for the respective organizations’ general futility.
Have you ever had 40,000 people chanting “Aaaaaassshoooole” over and over at you in unison? Were some of them also hurling various foods and beverages at you while verbally threatening your life? You’d think the person receiving that treatment would have just blown up a bus full of school children perhaps, but you’d be wrong. No, this person’s heinous crime was trying to catch a foul ball at a baseball game.
With a 3-0 lead in the 8th inning, 5 outs away from the Cubs winning a World Series title that would break a supposed curse that stretched back over generations, Steve Bartman (and several other fans) reached out to catch a foul ball that Cubs outfielder Moisés Alou was also about to make a play for. Bartman deflected the ball, giving the Florida Marlins batter another chance, and what followed was an 8 run inning for the Marlins, a horrible night (and series) for Cubs fans, and a nightmare of a life for Steve Bartman.
But Bartman didn’t allow any of those 8 runs to score. The Cubs players did. Bad pitching and bad fielding were really to blame, but that’s where the concept of a scapegoat comes into play. All of the fans’ and team’s troubles were heaped on the shoulders of this one man. He had no choice but to disappear from the public eye. You won’t see him in this documentary (other than the footage of him from the game itself) because he’s darned near impossible to track down. That’s a good thing though because I’m sure there are still some Cubs fans that would love to take out their frustrations on him.
It’s a different story with Bill Buckner though. Evidently his supposed sins have been absolved by the Boston Red Sox fans, mostly because they’ve won a couple of championships in recent years. There’s a very touching scene where we see the moment that Buckner finally came back to Finley park and was received with thunderous applause. It’s just a pity that it took so long for fans to realize that Buckner alone wasn’t to blame for the outcome of that infamous Game 6. Nice to see him hopefully close the door on that portion of this life though. It obviously hasn’t been easy for him or his family.
This is a slightly overlong documentary that has some nice moments but pads itself out with a lot of repetition. They must show the Bartman play about 100 times, and while some of the analysis is interesting, it does grow tiresome after a while. I wish the movie had concentrated more on the concept of scapegoats, as it does for a short time near the end. I think it would have been interesting to hear from a lot of Cubs fans as to whether or not they still blame Bartman, or if they realize how he was being used as a scapegoat. Instead, the bulk of the movie is analysis of the two plays and the events surrounding them.
That stuff is sort of interesting, but not interesting enough to stretch to an hour and 42 minutes. I think it could have been covered in at least a half hour less time.
Still, I learned some things about the two situations that I didn’t know before, and it was entertaining enough. And hopefully one day the Cubs will win a World Series and Steve Bartman will finally be able to show his face in public again. Until then, he’ll just be that guy who ruined everything for everybody…unless you’re a Marlins fan, in which case he’s probably your hero.
Exploding a baseball and then boiling it into spaghetti sauce is a sure fire way to break a sports curse.
10 – 2.3 because it’s a bit overlong, repetitive, and dull at times – .6 because I wish it had focused more on the scapegoat concept it flirts with = 7.1