Even if you are not a sports fan, the Steve Bartman story is a fascinating study of human nature, the media and how disgusting human beings can be at their darkest hour.
And all over a baseball game!
Bartman was the infamous Chicago Cubs fan who reached for a foul ball during a playoff game against the Florida Marlins in 2003. He deflected the ball away from Moises Alou’s glove. The Marlins rallied to win the game and knock the Cubs from the playoffs the next day causing grown men to weep and little girls to cry.
Bartman has been in hiding since from angry fans wanting to beat the stuffing out of him, and even kill him. He is as difficult to find as a politician after election day.
Last year, the Cubs won the World Series, ending a 108-year drought. It’s almost as long as the Toronto Maple Leafs last meaningful win.
On July 31, the Cubs gave Bartman a World Series ring. Bartman released a statement offering gratitude to the team offering thanks. He offered an insightful comment on media.
“My hope is that we all can learn from my experience to view sports as entertainment and prevent harsh scapegoating, and to challenge the media and opportunistic profiteers to conduct business ethically by respecting personal privacy rights and not exploit any individual to advance their own self-interest or economic gain.”
Bartman is right!
The problem is the media is not to blame. It’s the public, including the Cubs fans he loves so much.
The fact is if the public did not want to read and/or watch continuing coverage on the Bartman incident, the media would ignore it. The media is not into wasting time and resources on news that the public isn’t watching. To prove my point, ever watch men open the Sun to ogle the Sunshine Girl, or eyes scrutinizing every detail of the latest tragedy?
So, with blood-thirsty readers and viewers demanding that a scapegoat be found, what does the media do? They find some poor sap to say it for them. Believe me, there are plenty of saps around, especially in the Bartman case, ready to pounce on some unwilling soul as fast as Donald Trump types on his Twitter account.
Or, which is the media’s God-given right, to express their view in an editorial or column.
There is no question Bartman can “sell” his story for at least a six-figure payout when he decides. The interest to hear his side of the story will be compelling TV, or reading. Someone will pay handsomely for the big scoop. The vultures will circle, ready to pounce on the story in order to make a profit.
It will be very interesting to see how this story plays out. Is Bartman keeping his story under wraps for the ultimate retirement package? Very few would blame him if he did.
However, if Bartman wants to make the statement that the media exploit “personal privacy rights and not exploit any individual to advance their own self-interest or economic gain” he had better be prepared to practice what he preaches and zip his lips tighter than an airport sandwich.
If Bartman eventually sells his story, he is contributing to the very disgusting acts he is accusing the media of committing.
And what about accepting the ring? Is Bartman not also contributing to a public relations stunt that accomplishes the very thing he has fought to avoid all these years? You can make a case.
So far, Bartman has not stooped to that level. He is a shining example of what humans should be all about. I sincerely hope that Bartman takes his story to the grave.
This story’s last chapter is still not written.