Steve Bartman is far from the only reason for the Cubs’ 2003 disaster of an inning

Steve Bartman is far from the only reason for the Cubs’ 2003 disaster of an inning


– [Narrator] The Chicago Cubs
2016 World Series victory broke a century long
spell of hexes, blunders, let downs, and just regular old losing. Cubs fans suffered quite a
while waiting for this moment. Their freshest scar came from
2003 when a division winner lost the NLCS in a collapse best known for this iconic moment. The so-called Steve Bartman Incident. And in the scope of Cubs disasters, that ’03 nightmare stands
out as the absolute worst, but not because of that moment. This is the worst Cubs
playoff inning ever. October 14, 2003 – Wrigley
Field – Chicago, Illinois The Cubs led the Marlins
three games to two in the National League
Championship series. They were up three runs
to nothing in Game Six. The Marlins had opened the
eighth inning with a fly out, but had a man on second
after Juan Pierre doubled. Five more outs and the Cubs
would go to the World Series. If you remember one thing from this game, it’s this next moment. Mark Prior, who started the
game, was still pitching. Luis Castillo was at
bat and the two of them had battled to a full count. Castillo then hit a
foul ball down the line that left fielder Moises
Alou may have been able to catch over the wall for
the second out of the inning, if fans, including the deeply
unfortunate Steve Bartman, didn’t get in the way. Bartman became the
scapegoat for everything that followed, and there’s
a 30 for 30 documentary, Alex Gibney’s Catching
Hell, that does a great job investigating the reasons why. Alou’s demonstrative reaction,
excessive TV replays, and other spectators harassing Bartman, all contributed to his infamy. – [Game Announcer] Walking a fine line now of fans getting out of
control and doing something that they shouldn’t do. – All of this must be
understood within the context of Cubs fans believing they were cursed. Chicago had last won a
World Series in 1908. Their most recent World Series appearance was in 1945, a loss frequently referenced because of the incident
in which a tavern owner and his pet goat, who
had a ticket by the way, were denied entry into Wrigley Field. The tavern owner angrily
put a hex on the team. And indeed, since the
curse of the billy goat, the Cubs had not returned
to the Fall Classic. They’d hardly achieved any
post season success at all. Before this ’03 run, Chicago’s only recent playoff appearance was 1998 when NL MVP Sammy Sosa and rookie of
the year ace Kerry Wood were just enough to earn
Chicago a wild card birth and an NLDS sweep at
the hands of the Braves. So in 2003, the Cubs
winning Game Five in Atlanta to upset the Braves in the NLDS and snatching two NLCS wins in Florida to make Game Six a
potential series clincher, and scoring three runs
in Game Six while Prior held the Marlins scoreless, this was all pretty new and exciting. Chicago’s first World
Series birth since ’45 was well within reach and Cubs fans felt different, good, confident even. So with all that context, and
with everything that followed, you can see why this
weird unfortunate moment gets out sized attention. But it wasn’t the first bad
thing to happen that inning. We’ve already mentioned that
Pierre hit a one out double. And while many bad things were to come, it’s not like they directly resulted from an uncaught foul ball. Yes, two outs would have
been better than one, but Alou might not have
made this tough play, even unobstructed. Curses and hypotheticals
aside, the situation following the Bartman Incident,
remained as it was before. Castillo at the plate,
one out, full count. Nothing was worse, but
everything was about to get worse because of, you know, the Cubs. The first mistake was Prior’s. The announcers had recently pointed out that the Cubs didn’t need
to call in their bullpen, even after well over 100 pitches, the starter was still dealing. – [Game Announcer] He
hasn’t shown any reason to have any activity;
his stuff’s the same. – But once again facing
three balls and two strikes, the all star pitcher’s next
offering was in the dirt. The wild pitch ball four
put Castillo on first and let Juan Pierre advance to third. Here was a red flag, and here was another. Prior served Ivan Rodriquez
an absolute meatball that Pudge fouled off
and then Prior gave up an RBI single, 3-1, one out,
man on first and second. Now what? Now would
Cubs manager Dusty Baker pull his starter who’s
showed signs of wearing down? – [Game Announcer] And decision
time now for Dusty Baker. Does he give the ball the Kyle
Farnsworth in the bullpen, or does he leave Prior
out there on the mound? – [Narrator] No, Prior stayed out there. Two important things about this decision: One, for a manager of
some very good teams, Dusty Baker presided over
more than his fair share of meltdowns in closeout games. His teams repeatedly fell apart on the cusp of series victory. After this in 2012,
Baker’s Cincinnati Reds would blow a 2-0 series lead
in the NLDS against the Giants. In 2016, Baker’s Washington
Nationals would blow a 2-1 series lead in the
NLDS against the Dodgers. But in this moment, there
could only have been one collapse on Dusty Baker’s mind. Baker managed the San Francisco
Giants the previous year and led them to a 3-2 lead
in the 2002 World Series. In Game Six, with an opportunity
to close out the Angels and win it all, Baker pulled
starting pitcher Russ Ortiz in the seventh inning of a 5-0 shut out. The Giants squandered
their lead, then the game, then the whole World Series. So perhaps with that in
the back of his head, Baker left Prior out there
and here’s where I have to point out thing number two. For a split second, Baker’s decision looked like the right one. On his first pitch to star
rookie Miguel Cabrera, Prior induced a ground ball
that had a decent chance to become a double play and
end the inning until, s***. – [Game Announcer] And bobbled by Gonzalez and everybody’s safe. – [Narrator] Chicago’s Alex
Gonzalez, an extremely reliable veteran short stop had
just ten errors all year. He picked a devastating
moment to commit one more. So, still one out. Bases loaded now, but not because of anything Prior did wrong. The starter stayed out
there to face Derrick Lee, who doubled on the first pitch, tie game. Finally time for Prior to come out. Kyle Farnsworth entered hoping
to stanch the bleeding. He pitched around All-Star Mike Lowell to load the bases, then gave
up a sac fly to Jeff Conine. A pretty tolerable outcome
considering the alternatives. The Marlins now led, but
only by one run, two outs. So Baker had Farnsworth do it again. An intentional walk of Todd
Hollandsworth to load the bases. Just needed one more out
against Mike Mordecai, a guy off the bench who was having a pretty mediocre seas…ah
s***, 7-3 Marlins. After another Cubs pitching change, Mordecai would eventually
come around to score. And then, at last, after
eight runs surrendered the most devastating
inning in Cubs history finally came to an end. That, I mean I don’t believe in curses, but that inning made
it pretty hard to argue with someone who does. Especially because some
previous Cubs playoff disaster innings also
hinged on simple boners. The best example, after the Cubs blew a 2-0 series lead in their
1984 NLCS versus the Padres, the decisive Game Five turned because of one bad inning, which itself
turned on one weird error. Chicago was leading and
in pretty good shape, but would should have
been an easy second out of the seventh inning, squirted
under Leon Durham’s glove and through his legs, opening a cascade of San Diego runs that drowned
Chicago’s World Series hopes. That moment had a direct
parallel in the ’03 meltdown, but the broadcast of course,
left the inning more focused on the scene off the field
than all the screw ups that had just taken place on it. And it’s a shame, this
chapter of the Cubs’ century long tragedy is full of culprits. But Steve Bartman’s name
always gets top billing. Whether you believe in curses or not, that moment wasn’t what
made this top of the eighth the worst inning in Cubs’ history. It was the error, it was
the delayed pitching change, it was the failure of a worn out arm, and the onslaught that ensued. And the eventual knife
twisting when the Marlins went on the beat the
Yankees in the World Series. It was all of that. It was an avalanche of
failure, somehow overshadowed by the snowball that preceded it.

100 thoughts on “Steve Bartman is far from the only reason for the Cubs’ 2003 disaster of an inning

  1. As bad as the treatment of Bartman was. The second out changes several things. How the pitcher approaches the next batter, especially since there wouldn’t have been a man on third with one out because the wild pitch would not have been thrown for a walk.
    Most importantly though, even if we assume all the same stuff happens (just moving events down one in the batting order because Castillo would’ve been out if he catches it) then the sac fly that gave Miami the lead would’ve been the third out and the game would remain tied. That’s the big reason people should be mad at Bartman. Like I hate the idea of netting going in front of fans past third and first base (if you’re at the game just pay attention for God’s sake) but if fans can’t not interfere with even close plays then they shouldn’t put seats right on the wall, let alone let people stand right there.

  2. Chicago is considered one of the worst fan bases. That scum treated that Bartman person like a serial killer. The scumbag Chicago fans attempted to murder Bartman and threatened to murder his family. SO many times I've heard fans from other teams say that Philadelphia fans have a bad reputation, but, Philadelphia is a loyal fan base who just gives the opposing teams fans are hard time. Chicago is considered the bottom of society.

  3. Do a collapse of the post-Elway Broncos. My dad always goes on about Brian Griese ending the careers of Davis and McCaffrey. Or a double-header with the post-Manning Broncos even.

  4. You're a little late here. You can already watch the 30 for 30 Catching Hell or Don't Blame Steve Bartman if you want to see a good doc on this. This is, well, nothing new.

  5. Steve Bartman did nothing wrong he just went for foul ball and he wasn't the only person going for it and since Alou didn't catch they blamed him. He couldn't show his face in Chicago cause everyone knew what he looked like mostly because FOX kept zooming the camera on his face. This is a reason why i HATE cubs fans.

  6. Even though I'm a White Sox fan (yes, we exist), I was still happy to see the Cubs in the playoffs. I remember watching this game live as it happened from a viewing party at university. The Bartman incident (and the 8th inning as a whole) deflated the entire room. We knew then that the Cubs weren't making the series. The next game didn't matter at all.

  7. As a Cubs fan, I would have preferred a Deep Rewind of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, than taking us back to this horrible memory!

  8. Man, I remembered watching that game live on TV and when the whole disaster of an inning was over, my mind was not on Steve Bartman. It was on that damn missed double play by Alex Gonzales.

  9. I would of Killed myself I were a Cubs fan back in 2003, 2004 Boston ends their Drought, 2005 the White Sox Win the World Series and end their drought, & then 2006 St. Louis Cardinals Win the World Series…..

  10. I've said this many times: if you're blaming fans or refs for your team losing a game, then maybe your team isn't as good as you thought.

  11. 2003 is not remotely the worst Cubs post-season inning. Down two games to one in the 1929 World Series, they led 8-0 going into the bottom of the 7th. The A's scored 10 runs in the bottom of the 7th, including an inside-the-park 3-run HR by Mule Haas, when Hack Wilson lost the ball in the sun, and a bases-loaded double by Jimmy Dykes. In game 5, the Cubs led 2-0 going into the bottom of the 9th before giving up 3 runs, including a 2-run HR by Haas to tie the game, and losing the game and series.

  12. People forget that before the bartman incident in the 7th inning stretch in the bottom half of the seventh Bernie Mac was singing take me out to the ballgame he called the Chicago Cubs champions and I know It hex the Cubs.also you if you want to talk about Dusty Baker's failures go back to 1993 when he was a rookie manager last game of the regular season when they were tied with the Atlanta Braves for the the best record in the national League West where are the Giants and Braves could have played against each other in a one game 163 regular season playoff game Dusty Baker makes a big mistake by putting it in a rookie pitcher Salomon Torres if it's the last game of the regular season when you could have had two of us veteran pictures Billy Swift and John Burkett when the Giants lost the last game of the regular season to the Los Angeles Dodgers the Atlanta Braves got in the playoffs in the San Francisco Giants end up going home where they were eliminated in playoff contention.

  13. Is it time to do the worst Red Sox playoff inning from the same year? Lot of similarities involving the starter staying out there for just a little too long.

  14. This is outstanding. In no situation where a team is up three runs with one on in the eighth inning should blaming a fan (who wasn’t reaching into the field of play) be acceptable.

    But sure, let’s blame him anyway. Let’s blame him for everything that followed. Let’s blame him for the disaster of a game seven the next night.

    Are people aware of just how bad Steve Bartman’s life was affected by everything unraveling and him being blamed for it?

  15. I always say this: 1. Alou definitively overreacted and made their temmates to lost concentration and confidence. 2. As almost all of you said, Alex Gonzalez, but mostly 3. There was a Game 7 afterwards, which the Cubs started winning by the way. Too many errors and misperformances by Chicago, to blame a particular fan for the Cubs misfortune.

  16. That Cubs team was also an 88 win team. They were pretty lucky even to get that close and probably wouldn’t have beaten the Yankees had they made the WS anyway, as Florida got lucky with a bunch of close wins to get that championship. I always think of this inning as the inevitable regression to the mean.

  17. Glad to see this series back!

    Recommendation: Some motorsports episodes…Worst F1 race, Worst Daytona 500…just a couple examples

  18. All you Cubs fans would have done the exact same thing as Bartman anyway. The only good thing about them winning a title was not having to listen to all that constant whining for a while.

  19. The Cubs intentionally walked Todd Hollandsworth with 2 outs in the inning…..2 outs. Mordecai was next and hit the 3 run double. Todd was a good hitter but maybe just maybe if they pitched to him? It's only 4-3 going into the Bottom of the 8th

  20. Let's take your defense of Dusty Baker as the correct hypothesis… he might be good for handling emotionally difficult players, but he always seems to be looking in the rearview mirror and prefer to work a geriontocracy, harming young players' careers by keeping them in the bench for unnaturally long stretches in favor of veterans past their prime. Except for pitchers, many of which he did destroy via scary high pitch counts because "Lasorda, therefore Alston, therefore good".
    In Baker's Acres, whatever's in the road behind, what's already been driven, is the guide for what's ahead.
    "As I can see it's been a long straightaway, I think a curve should be ahead right about now."

  21. In the 1929 World Series in Game 4, the Cubs were leading 8-0 down 2-1 in the series overall. They allowed 10 runs to the Philadelphia A's in the 7th inning to lose. In Game 5, they still managed to be ahead 2-0 until the 9th inning when the A's scored 3 runs to get the walk-off series victory.

    So, the Cubs went from almost assuredly tying the WS at 2-2 to losing altogether in the span of about 12 innings.

  22. Mr. Bartman's action is more of a reaction, which other fans in his area had the same reaction. The difference was the baseball was heading towards Bartman, a foot on either side, he's just a nameless face in the crowd. That said, Alou had delusions about catching that foul ball. Every conceivable angle that showed the flight of the ball, Moises had no play. Factor in a left handed hitter hitting the baseball to the opposite field, it was slicing away from Alou. He may initially thought he was going to make a play in foul territory…as he kept drifting towards the stands as the baseball continued it's slice. Clearly, Alou was wrong thinking he had a play on it. Aaron Judge…maybe?

  23. If Bartman stays out of the way, which he should have since his team was in the field. the ground ball to Gonzalez would have come with 2 outs. Easy force out at 2nd. Game Over. Series Over. This is all on Bartman.

  24. As a Cubs fan if Alou caught that ball that would've been a phenomenal play. I didn't think he would've caught the ball if Bartman didn't interfere.

  25. Not a Cubs' fan at all, but because of their shitty history, I was rooting hard for the Cubs to win this series. After watching how the fans reacted to and treated the pathetic Steve Bartman, I hoped to hell that they would never win anything. Ever.

  26. It was bartman if it wasn’t for him we would have 2 out and prior would have been more comfortable with no one on base

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