“ESPN’s 30 for 30: Steve Bartman, Catching Hell” Will Not Be Easy to Watch

Kyle's Cubs

I’d rather not focus on the fact that the Cubs have their #4 and #5 starters already on the DL and we are 3-3 after facing the Pirates and Diamondbacks.  Instead I will focus my efforts on the e-mail I received from my cousin on Thursday which outlined the long awaited ESPN’s 30 for 30 focused around Steve Bartman and the Cubs which will debut at the Tribeca Film Festival this year.

Full disclosure, I am not completely over the 2003 NLCS.  I was actually in college (Founders Apartments at USC) and was watching the game that crap night on Oct. 14th 2003 (with the same cousin who sent me the e-mail).   All was going well, we had a case of Miller Lite, I wasn’t planning on doing any work the next day, and the Cubs were in the Playoffs and looking like a lock to move on.  To be quite honest, I had already planned to spend a large amount of the next 2 weeks in Chicago with cousins and friends in order to just be around Wrigley-ville when the proverbial sh*t hit the fan (in a good way).

We couldn’t have been in a better mood.  Just watch the first 2 minutes and 30 seconds of the 8 minute clip (of the game – that is at the bottom of this piece) to see what I mean.  Heading into the 8th inning the Cubbies were up 3-0, Prior was still throwing 95 mph fastballs and nasty sliders, the atmosphere in the ballpark was insane at the friendly confines, we were playing at home, and Florida looked worn out.  The baseball gods were on our side, finally.

And then my cousin went to take a leak and everything went to hell (I don’t necessarily blame the whole debacle on him for taking a leak, though maybe I should).

The Bartman incident occurred and the nasty snowball effect continued through the next 2 innings.   The base hit by Ivan on a 0-2 count, the Gonzo error off of an easy grounder, the fact that Dusty kept Prior in during all of this, and the nail in the coffin by soon to be Cub, Derek Lee…   it wasn’t just me who felt like they had their heart ripped out (then stomped on, then spit on, then punted into a trash compactor, then thrown in a vice), every Cubs fan that evening was catching hell in their own way.   I personally combatted it by going on a small bender that evening of great proportions.  Was it a curse?  Was the billy-goat rearing its ugly head?  Were the past 100+ years all freakin cursed?  Whatever it was/is, I can honestly tell you that it felt like ass.

Regarding the present day Cubs:  I do believe the Cubs are slightly cursed, I do believe that if we can get through the next 2 weeks without a #4 and #5 we have a chance at the Central, I do believe that anyone has a shot at the NL Central, I do believe that Jeff Samardzija belongs playing in the CFL, I do believe that we don’t still regret the Silva dismissal, I do believe Starlin Castro is someone to build your organization around, and I do believe I will re-live that rough night of Oct 14th, 2003 (and also have a bit of a small bender following)  when I watch “Catching Hell.”

The synopsis of the 30 for 30:

With five outs remaining in Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series, Florida Marlins second baseman Luis Castillo hit a foul ball straight for Chicago Cubs left fielder Moises Alou. But the crucial catch was not to be. Instead, a flurry of hands reached out from the stands, deflecting the ball into the crowd, and instantly one man’s name, like Bill Buckner’s before it, became synonymous with blowing it in a critical, high-stakes moment: Steve Bartman. In fact, dozens of errors contributed to the Cubs’ loss in 2003, and the Red Sox still had one more whole game to play in the 1986 World Series after Buckner’s legendary gaffe—yet these are moments that will live forever in the annals of sports infamy. Why?
With Catching Hell, Academy Award®-winning documentarian and Tribeca alum Alex Gibney probes this topic of sports curses and scapegoats with his signature incisiveness, tracing the roots of our compulsion to focus misplaced blame for an entire team’s legacy on small moments of tangible ineptitude. In the process, Gibney’s comprehensive interrogation of this under-examined sports phenomenon lends insight and a bit of heroic tragedy to Bartman’s own curse of undeserved notoriety.