ALOU MAKES THE CATCH: An Alternate History of the Chicago Cubs


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He was helped out in the eighth inning by a spectacular catch by left fielder Moises Alou, who reached into the stands to grab a foul flyball off the bat of Luis Castillo. Alou was able to make the catch because a fan seated in the stands next to the wall moved out of the way. When asked who that bespectacled man was, Alou replied, "I don't know.

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He got away before I could thank him. In another development, Cubs marketing chief John McDonough said he is seeking artists to create a life-size statue of Baker, to be put up next to the Harry Caray statue outside Wrigley Field. McDonough has been given an order of his own. Perhaps flexing his newfound power, president-for-life MacPhail has asked McDonough to implement a marketing theme for "Let's do our due diligence again, like we did last summer.

It's fair to speculate things would be much different at Clark and Addison these days. It's almost impossible to imagine MacPhail ever openly declaring it his goal to win the World Series, as McDonough did last October in taking over after MacPhail resigned. CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Dusty Baker today announced a system of fines for players who "needlessly clog the bases" with walks and don't demonstrate an aggressive approach at the plate.

Baker added he'd like his young pitchers to consistently reach pitch counts of or more, saying, "When you're young, that's the time you work. If Baker were still here, it's difficult to imagine young players such as Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot getting anywhere near the playing time they've received this year under manager Lou Piniella.

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Baker openly scoffed at the importance of on-base percentage. That stat has improved marginally this year, but Piniella has stated he recognizes its importance. Piniella also has spoken many times of "freshening up" pitchers' arms by removing them from games early or giving them an extra day of rest. Relief pitcher Kent Mercker and Stone were said to have had a friendly chat on a hotel elevator on a recent road trip. Witnesses said Mercker's parting words to Stone as the elevator stopped were, "Thank you. Player rep Mark Prior also went to the front office and asked that Caray and Stone be upgraded to the front row of the team's charter plane.

If the Cubs had won in , Baker would have been given wider berth for his managerial decision-making in As it turned out, Caray and Stone adopted a more critical approach. Baker felt the criticism became personal, and by the end of the year Caray was on his way to Atlanta and Stone was headed to talk radio and national TV broadcasts. The result was that Cubs TV viewers got a new announcing team in Len Kasper and Bob Brenly, who today have become recognized as perhaps the top duo in the game.

Game 7, however, wasn't the story. The fan who deflected the ball was. All anybody wanted to talk about was the guy in the turtleneck, glasses, hat and headphones. The thing is that nobody knew who the fan was.

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Not at first, anyway. But in this universe, his name soon came out. It was Steve Bartman who had stuck his hands out. Like that, whatever hope he might have had of remaining anonymous was gone. Eventually, Bartman chose not to remain silent. He issued an apologetic statement, via the Associated Press :. There are few words to describe how awful I feel and what I have experienced within these last 24 hours. I've been a Cub fan all my life and fully understand the relationship between my actions and the outcome of the game. I had my eyes glued on the approaching ball the entire time and was so caught up in the moment that I did not even see Moises Alou, much less that he may have had a play.

Had I thought for one second that the ball was playable or had I seen Alou approaching I would have done whatever I could to get out of the way and give Alou a chance to make the catch. I ask that Cub fans everywhere redirect the negative energy that has been vented towards my family, my friends, and myself into the usual positive support for our beloved team on their way to being National League champs.


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A mass freak-out was already underway, and a connection between Bartman and the dreaded Curse of the Billy Goat had already been established. For example, T. Now they have a cat in black who reached for a foul ball in the eighth inning last night, knocking the ball away from Moises Alou's glove, and became part of the Cubs' inglorious history. Mind you, it wasn't just those looking to sell papers who saw Bartman as an agent of the curse. It's the curse, no question," said one fan.

Bill Burr - Catching Hell Documentary

The Cubs had their chances in Game 7, but the outcome seemed set in stone as soon as Cabrera launched a three-run homer in the first inning against Kerry Wood. It's easy to forget that the Cubs actually battled back to take a lead in the third inning, but that's because it's easier to remember how quickly that lead was erased. The Marlins scored six runs of their own between the fifth and seventh to take a lead.

The final score ended up being , and that was it for the Cubs. The drought counter officially moved up to 95 years since the last World Series championship.

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Afterward, the focus should have been on how and why the Cubs lost Game 7. Instead, people were still hung up on how and why the Cubs had lost Game 6. On Thursday [the day after Game 7], Chicagoans continued to debate how this new chapter, the Bartman incident, would fit into the Cubs' tangled history. Bartman's critics claimed that he had doomed the Cubs' chances, and his defenders -- seemingly a growing bunch -- claimed that Cubs fans were trying to blame the team's athletic failings on an innocent spectator.

A poll conducted in January of found that 58 percent never blamed Bartman in the first place, while only 25 percent were still upset about the foul ball that had glanced off his hands. But then, actually absolving Bartman of any wrongdoing was sort of beside the point. He was a story all the same, one that had already taken on a life of its own. First, there was the matter of the ball itself, which had ended up not in Bartman's hands, but in the hands of a guy who was sitting behind him. He might as well have caught a winning lottery ticket. DePorter's plan for the ball was to display it at the restaurant until fans came up with a good way to destroy it.

In early , it was determined that the ball was going to be blown up. Eventually, bits of the exploded ball ended up in spaghetti sauce. One supposes sarcastically, mind you that was inevitable. Beyond the ball, there was the matter of Bartman himself. It only took two years for ESPN to dream up a feature on the "most reclusive man in sports," one that sent Wayne Drehs on a mission to track Bartman down in Drehs basically had to stalk Bartman in order to meet him face-to-face. And when he did, he found a guy who had no interest in talking.

That's still the case. Salinger of sports fans. While Bartman has remained in hiding and time has moved on, various high-profile reminders of the Game 6 incident have popped up here and there. It was five years after the fact in that Alou changed the tune he was singing in by admitting that he wouldn't have caught the ball even if Bartman's hand hadn't gotten in the way.

I wouldn't have caught it, anyway. And now here we are on October 14, , 10 years to the day after Bartman extended his hands to try and catch Castillo's foul ball.

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I suspect those of us who saw it still remember it like it was yesterday. Certainly one thing the overwhelming majority of us can agree on these many years later is that Bartman did nothing wrong. Other fans around him went reaching for Castillo's foul ball just as he did, and every last one of us would have done the same thing had we been in Bartman's shoes. Yet while we sympathize, we can't move on. A decade later, the curious case of Steve Bartman still strikes a chord.

Perhaps the simplest answer to this question is the one that was provided in the comparison between Bartman and Buckner in Catching Hell. The film pointed out how fans of the Boston Red Sox didn't completely get over their bitter feelings for Buckner until after the Red Sox won the World Series in There was no point in feeling bitter about Buckner anymore.

When I proposed the notion of a Cubs triumph eventually getting Bartman off the hook to Kenny Lofton, he would have none of it. Off the hook? There is no off the hook. OK, so it's the media's fault. And in this case, yeah, I would agree that the media has perpetuated the Bartman story. Part of the reason fans haven't forgotten about it because the media hasn't let them. It is, however, the media's job to keep tabs on history.

It's also the media's job to keep tabs on stories of interest. To that end, the Bartman story is undeniably fascinating. And one must admit, it's taken on a whole new level of fascination as Bartman has remained silent and out of sight over the years.


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  • Sullivan's comparison of Bartman to J. Salinger is too perfect. In addition to being a great writer, he became a great mystery. And as much as people are fascinated by great writing, they're fascinated by great mysteries even more. Through his own disappearance, Bartman has also become a great mystery. And the degree to how deep the mystery goes is the really intriguing part.

    In terms of words, Bartman's statement and the awkward conversation he had with Drehs in is all we have. In terms of visuals, that image of Bartman in the green turtleneck, glasses, hat and headphones is the only one we have. He can be dressed up as for Halloween , and sitting in his seat at Wrigley Field is the kind of thing worthy of a pilgrimage. People don't do things like these as homages to random guys.

    ALOU MAKES THE CATCH: An Alternate History of the Chicago Cubs ALOU MAKES THE CATCH: An Alternate History of the Chicago Cubs
    ALOU MAKES THE CATCH: An Alternate History of the Chicago Cubs ALOU MAKES THE CATCH: An Alternate History of the Chicago Cubs
    ALOU MAKES THE CATCH: An Alternate History of the Chicago Cubs ALOU MAKES THE CATCH: An Alternate History of the Chicago Cubs
    ALOU MAKES THE CATCH: An Alternate History of the Chicago Cubs ALOU MAKES THE CATCH: An Alternate History of the Chicago Cubs
    ALOU MAKES THE CATCH: An Alternate History of the Chicago Cubs ALOU MAKES THE CATCH: An Alternate History of the Chicago Cubs
    ALOU MAKES THE CATCH: An Alternate History of the Chicago Cubs ALOU MAKES THE CATCH: An Alternate History of the Chicago Cubs
    ALOU MAKES THE CATCH: An Alternate History of the Chicago Cubs ALOU MAKES THE CATCH: An Alternate History of the Chicago Cubs
    ALOU MAKES THE CATCH: An Alternate History of the Chicago Cubs ALOU MAKES THE CATCH: An Alternate History of the Chicago Cubs
    ALOU MAKES THE CATCH: An Alternate History of the Chicago Cubs

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