This was a wonderful gesture of kindness and reconciliation. It won’t mean much to those who don’t follow baseball, and that is Reason #478,653,222 why it’s a mistake not to follow baseball.
I’ve written about the Steve Bartman fiasco several times, both here and on the currently off-line Ethics Scoreboard. I am not in the “Steve Bartman was an innocent victim of circumstance” camp, though he was a victim of moral luck. He was an incompetent baseball fan, not paying sufficient attention to the game and interfering with it as a direct result. On the other hand, for members of the 2003 Cubs to use him as a scapegoat for their blowing a lead, the game, and the play-offs, and for Chicago fans to hound him out of town and into hiding, was far worse than his negligence, the most disproportionate and vindictive treatment of a fan in sports history.
Here was my summary of the saga to date before the Cubs finally won the World Series after more than a century of failure:
Bartman, for those of you who have lived in a bank vault since 2003, was the hapless young Chicago Cubs fan who unintentionally interfered with a foul ball that might have been catchable by Cubs outfielder Moises Alou in the decisive game of 2003 National League Championship Series. In a perfect display of the dangers of moral luck, Bartman’s mistake—it didn’t help that he was wearing earphones and watching the ball rather than the action on the field—began a chain of random events that constituted a complete collapse by Chicago in that very same half-inning, sending the Miami Marlins and not the Cubs, who had seemed comfortably ahead, to the Series. Bartman, who issued a sincere and pitiful apology, was widely vilified and literally run out of town. He then became part of Cubs and baseball lore, one more chapter in the sad saga has been called “the Billy Goat Curse,” the uncanny inability of this team to win it all.
Yesterday the Cubs announced that the team had privately awarded Bartman an official Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series Championship ring as a special gift from the the Cubs organization. These things contain 214 diamonds at 5.5 karats, three karats of genuine red rubies and 2.5 karats of genuine sapphires, and are worth about $70,000. Even so, the symbolism is worth far more.
Tom Ricketts, the Cubs owner, issued a statement: Continue reading