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Bartman, Cubs look to repeat
Full Circle – Chicago Cubs Award Steven Bartman World Series Ring

Nine months ago, the Chicago Cubs did the unthinkable in mounting a comeback for the ages that brought their previously cursed franchise its first World Series Championship in a billion years. And now, the Cubs are doing something even more unbelievable by giving Steve Bartman a ring.

Steve Bartman became absolutely vilified during Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS when he reached for a foul ball that Moises Alou probably could have caught. This was a huge deal. The Cubs, who were up 3-0 at the time, would go on to lose complete momentum and suffer an 8-3 loss while also giving up Game 7 to the Marlins.

The entire world of sports descended on Bartman unfairly. Chicago fans in particular The Cubs themselves tried to protect him and re-connect with him multiple times. ESPN produced a wonderful, in-depth documentary entitled Catching Hell ( that you should absolutely watch if you haven’t already) which covered the entire ordeal from a multitude of angles, including interviews with Alou and members of the Cubs organization. But the vitriol against him had already poisoned this unfortunate fan’s connection to his team.

Though he never left the Chicago area, Bartman retreated in to corners where people could not find him. He refused to do interviews, and was actually quite good about keeping himself out of the headlines. At the time, Bartman was crucified as the reason the Chicago Cubs lost a shot at the World Series. Truthfully, that blame should have fallen squarely on the Chicago Cubs themselves.

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Fifteen years later, after Bartman had suffered through life changing chaos that could not be undone, the Chicago Cubs made things right. “I humbly receive the ring not only as a symbol of one of the most historic achievements in sports, but as an important reminder for how we should treat each other in today’s society,” Bartman echoed in a statement. “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. Moreover, I am hopeful this ring gesture will be the start of an important healing and reconciliation process for all involved. To that end, I request the media please respect my privacy, and the privacy of my family. I will not participate in interviews or further public statements at this time.”

It’s time that this whole thing was put to rest. The media was unfair. Sports fans across the country were unnecessarily cruel. This was quite literally something that could have happened to anyone. Fortunately, it happened to a man that reflected the same steely resolve that his beloved baseball team did as well. It is not easy living life believing that you are cursed. Eventually, the Cubs overcame their own curse and now Bartman can do the same.

Besides, the Chicago Cubs and their fans have better things to focus on. They are in the midst of undoing a brutal first-half that nearly obliterated all the hope and joy that the 2016 World Series win has brought, and have now improbably clawed their way over the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals to reclaim the NL Central.

The Cubs are ranked third at +675 to repeat as champions, giving them the same odds as the Cleveland Indians and sitting them behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (+200) and Houston Astros (+475). Is the good will they’ve shown Bartman, one of their biggest fans, going to be enough to propel the Cubs back to the big dance? They’re doing all the right things, having gone 13-3 SU in their last 16 games since the All-Star break.

A symbolic gesture represented by a World Series ring has brought this entire Bartman episode full circle.

Seems pretty fitting.


  
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