The Buckner Surprise

At the end of tonight’s ESPN documentary Catching Hell, I found myself saying one simple word: No. To expand upon that, I offer the following instant analysis:

No, I don’t see the connection between the Red Sox collapse in 1986 and the Cubs of 2003. For one thing, the Red Sox were at least in the World Series, which is something that no Cubs fan under 70 knows anything about.

No, the fact that Bill Buckner was traded from the Cubs to the Red Sox, or that he wore a Cubs glove on his hand that night, does not make him or his error relevant to what happened to the Cubs in 2003.

No, Alex Gibney, your feelings of empathy–or whatever it is that compelled you, as a Red Sox fan, to make this documentary–do not make things any better for me as a Cubs fan. You don’t know what being a Cubs fan is like, and it’s insulting to think that you can channel it through your own team.

No, the footage of  Bill Buckner triumphantly entering Fenway Park in 2008 did not add anything to the story of the 2003 Cubs. And forcing Cubs fans to watch it felt like forcing a hungry man watch someone else eat a steak. It seemed sadistic on some level.

No, the quasi-confessional nature of the interviews with the FOX producer and with Steve Lyons does not change what the hapless Cubs fan went through, and will continue to go through until further notice. They may or may not feel bad about the way they acted that night, but the impact of their actions cannot be undone by anything they say or do now.

No, speaking with Eric Karros was not enough to fully convey the team’s reaction to what was going on that night. He’s clearly a telegenic guy, and maybe that’s why he was chosen, but there were others on the team that I would have liked to hear from too, such as Mark Prior or Kerry Wood, or maybe even Alex Gonzalez. And Dusty Baker wasn’t worth talking to, either?

I appreciated some of the angles that I hadn’t seen before, and the Matt Liston footage from inside the park was also very engaging, but the documentary itself seemed like a Buckner Surprise, with far too much emphasis on the Red Sox and their travails, and not enough attention paid to the Cubs and their fans in the days since 2003.  Our itch remains unscratched, and although Gibney acknowledged as much at the end, I don’t think he really understands that.

4 thoughts on “The Buckner Surprise

  1. I missed the show but being as it was on ESPN, that doesn’t surprise me one bit about all the Red Sox in there. (E)astern (S)eaboard (P)ropaganda (N)etwork does that with everything on their network, especially live games. It’s always a Yankee or Red Sox game.

    1. It felt like a bait-and-switch when they brought out all the Red Sox stuff. I didn’t see any of that in the advertising they did to promote the show.

  2. You Cubs fans are a bunch of babies. Do you ever consider that perhaps Prior or Wood or Gonzalez refused to be included in the project? Cubs fans are a disgrace. They have an excuse for everything, when all it’s ever come down to is simply playing bad baseball. I bet Bartman would’ve loved for guys like Prior, Wood, or Gonzalez to stand up and say something in his defense (no pun intended). When Bartman and his family’s lives are being torn apart and ruined, where was Gonzalez to stand up on his behalf and say “Listen Cubs fans, lay off this guy, it was an honest mistake, don’t go ruining his life over it. I’m the one who booted an easy double play that would’ve preserved the win still, and if you want to blame someone blame me, not an everyday fan who did something 99% of fans in that park would’ve done.” But nope, Gonzalez stays silent. Go figure, typical Cubs. And Prior? The guy who blew the lead, the guy who threw Pudge an 0-2 hanging breaking ball right down the plate…also silent. And Wood? The guy who got rocked in game 7…also dead silent. Some role models these Cubs are. Makes one wonder why some fans care so much about these players when these players don’t care one ounce about the fans.

    1. Thanks for reading, Jon. I’m not going to pretend that I speak for anybody other than myself with these posts. Cubs fans come in all shapes and sizes. I hold Dusty Baker responsible for what happened that night, more than any player or fan. I’ve said that the fan (who I make it my practice not to call out by name, because he’s suffered too much for this already) has no blame in any of this. Alou was too emotional after it happened, and things spun out of control from there. Prior was inside the matrix until this happened, and Baker couldn’t see how rattled he became. I wish a lot of things had gone differently, both during the game and afterwards. But that’s all done now. All that I can do about it is write, so that’s what I do. Most would rather forget about it, but this is therapy for me on some level. I hope you read some of my other posts on this site. I suspect that you’re a Red Sox fan, and I have written about them from time to time.

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