Theo Epstein ponders Steve Bartman
As he sat in Wrigley Field following his introductory news conference Tuesday, Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein considered reaching out to another figure who entered Cubs lore during an October evening at Wrigley.
Epstein was doing a remote guest appearance on ESPN's "PTI" when he was asked if he would try to contact Steve Bartman to mend fences between the team and the fan whose pursuit of a foul ball during Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS is the stuff of Cubs infamy.
"I haven't talked to anyone here at the Cubs about that, but from afar, it seems like it would be an important step, maybe a cathartic moment that would allow people to move forward together," Epstein said.
The Cubs were leading the series 3-2 and up 3-0 in the eighth inning when Bartman made a play on Luis Castillo's foul ball. Moises Alou reacted violently to what he perceived as Bartman's interference on a ball he thought he would have caught. The Cubs imploded, losing the game 8-3 and losing the series in seven.
Bartman had to be sneaked out of Wrigley as angry fans fired obscenities, threats and beer, blaming him for the Cubs extending their World Series drought, which has reached 103 years.
It was a similar scenario to the reaction Bill Buckner received after his error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series opened the door for the New York Mets to defeat the Boston Red Sox. Epstein was Boston's GM when Buckner was invited to Fenway Park to throw out the first pitch on April 8, 2008. It was the Red Sox's home opener and they unfurled their 2007 championship banner with the crowd giving Buckner a four-minute standing ovation in a moment of forgiveness, perhaps for both sides.
"I'm all about having an open mind, an open heart and forgiveness," Epstein said. "I think those are good characteristics for an organization to have as well.
"Look, he's a Cubs fan. That's the most important thing. We need to come together as an organization, the fans, the ownership, the front office, the players, everybody, if we're going to get this thing done. I'm sure it's something that will come up at the right time."
Do something with your life and go get me a beer.