Winning is such a miraculous balm. It cures the deepest pain among the most ardent followers of sports teams.
Consider what occurred in Chicago, which welcomed a World Series championship this past year when the Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians.
Do you remember a guy named Steve Bartman? He was the fan who was sitting along the left-field wall in October 2003; he reached out over the field and disrupted the Cubs’ Moises Alou, who was running to catch a popped-up baseball. Had Alou made the catch, the Cubs — who were leading at that moment — would have been just four outs from winning the National League Championship Series playoff game against the Florida Marlins. He didn’t, thanks to Bartman’s interference. The Marlins won the game — and the pennant. The Cubs would be denied their first NL pennant since 1945.
Bartman has been scorned ever since. He has kept the lowest of profiles.
Well, the Cubs gave Bartman a World Series ring earned from the title they won in 2016. It’s the Cubs’ way of saying, “We forgive you, Steve.”
Bartman was touched by the gesture. “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 told WGN 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.”
As the late Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” In this case, it turns out to have been the only way for the Cubs to demonstrate they had no hard feelings toward one of their more ardent fans.
I happen to think the Cubs did something very cool.