I don't like being a fair weather fan. Whenever the Chicago Blackhawks start their championship runs, I always sit out. Friends will try to welcome me in, and tell me that everyone is welcome to their party. But I will decline, because I am not a hockey fan. I take shots at bandwagoners all the time, and that would be me joining those ranks. So I wish them a good time and I go on about my business.
However, in the case of the Hawks, I sit out because I am not engaged with the team unless they are on my radar. The Chicago Cubs, however, I refuse to root for. I don't have a problem with the team, I'm glad they are doing so well, and Joe Madden seems to have his head on straight. But I will not be a Cub fan now or ever.
Because I hate the Cub fans.
Because of how they treated one individual.
For those that don't know, this is the Most Wanted Man In Chicago. His name is Steve Bartman, a financial consultant from Chicago.
Here's the Cliffs Notes -- before the 2003 season started, the Cubs hired Dusty Baker to be their coach. As usually happens when the Cubs hired a new coach with actual pedigree, the first season resulted in a playoff run (and then they would miss the next season, and the season after that, they would tank and the coach would get the thumb. Time would eventually show Baker following the exact same professional curve). According to legend, the Cubs are a cursed team, doomed to never win a World Series. But things were looking good, and the Cubs made it to a divisional playoff series against the Florida Marlins.
The night was October 14. Chicago was leading the series 3-2. Eighth inning, the score was 3-0 Cubs, Marlins at bat, one out. Juan Pierre was on second base, Luis Castillo was up to bat. Castillo chipped a foul ball towards the left field stands. Moises Alou was trying to run it down. He jumped up to catch the ball, but a bunch of fans in the stands reached out to grab it as well. It bounced out of the grip of one fan and landed in the unlucky hands of Bartman.
Alou lost his shit. He threw his glove and yelled for the umpire to call fan interference. The ump refused, saying the ball had passed the plane of the wall and it was fine for the fan to catch it. Meanwhile, Fox Sports, who was televising the game, repeatedly showed Bartman and his location. People watching home called their friends in the stands (Wrigley Field had no Jumbotron or other such device at the time) and the crowd. Got. Ugly. To the point where Bartman was escorted from the building under a police guard and needed protection for a few days when idiot Cub fans doxxed him and posted his home address and phone number on MLB message boards.
The Cubs, meanwhile, completely collapsed. After that failed catch, only two outs from the end of the inning and one man on base and a 3-0 lead, promptly choked, giving up eight runs and letting Florida tie the series. The next night, the Cubs choked again, taking a game where they were up 5-3 and wound up losing 9-6. And despite the fact that the Cubs lost the game because of their own incompetence, fans continued to point to Bartman as "the first domino" that sank the entire series.
Bartman, to his credit, has never capitalized on any of this. He continues to work as a financial consultant, and has refused interviews or trying to leverage his unwanted fame. Last year, during the Cubs' surprising playoff run, fans tried to organize a GoFundMe to raise $5,000 to get him a ticket to the wild card game against the St. Louis Cardinals. They were about halfway to the goal when Bartman contacted them and politely declined -- the money went to Alzheimer's research instead. Bartman says he has never returned to Wrigley, and who can blame him.
And despite even the Chicago Cubs themselves saying Bartman had nothing to do with them pissing the series down their leg, Chicagoans to this day will insist that Bartman killed their magical season and they are willing to beat him up if they see him. Even more galling is some fans saying that, if the Cubs go all the way this year, they'll forgive Bartman. In other words, his future is completely out of his hands, and they won't let him be because of things like "human decency," but because their team wins the World Series, and if they don't, they will still harbor their murderous thoughts.
I refuse to associate with people who believe they have the right to bully and threaten someone who did something they would do (and not even the one who was originally going for the ball) just because their team lost. I have no problem with the Cubs. But their fans can go to Hell.