If you’re not a Chicago Cubs fan, you probably remember the Cubs’ nightmarish eighth inning of the 2003 NLCS because of Steve Bartman. One random fan became a household name because he was in the wrong place in the wrong time at what felt like a turning point in the series. There’s a whole documentary explaining how Bartman became such a scapegoat.
But even a slightly deeper look reveals two things:
1. That eighth inning really does stand out as horrible, even when compared to the other playoff meltdowns in Chicago’s 100-plus-year drought.
2. Bartman certainly didn’t help the Cubs, but he hurt them far, far less than they hurt themselves.
2003 was the worst, but to understand why, you need to look beyond Bartman and recall the wild pitch, the error, the shaky coaching, and the failed relief appearances. None of those things should take second billing to some fan who slapped a foul ball.