The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Bartman Sightings in Miami

It’s been a weird couple of weeks for me. Last week, there was the whole Hurricane Charley thing, where for a few days, we in Miami were nervous that the storm would come our way (luckily it didn’t). While I was trying to decide what to do (i.e. gather supplies like food and water, or flee the area, etc), I came home one night to see this image

Now, I’m not the most religious person you’ll ever meet, but even I took this as a sign. When a potentially devastating natural disaster is headed your way and you find out that even Jesus is leaving town, you really have to think about it.

It didn’t stop there, mind you. Nowhere close. The same day I saw Jesus packing up his things I also saw this

Never before have I seen a dog driving a car. At least not until last week. The insanity of late didn’t end there, but at least now we can dispell some of the rumors about Mr. Bartman - including one here and another here. I’ll let a guest columnist take it from here:

October 14, 2003... Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. The Marlins trailed the Chicago Cubs 3-0. During the top of the eighth inning, Luis Castillo hits a foul ball high up towards the left field seats. Moises Alou has the ball in his sights as he runs towards the seats. Leaping high into the air and practically scaling the wall, the ball is mere inches from landing in his glove. Then, much to his surprise, an over-excited Cubs fan named Steve Bartman reaches out and snatches the ball out of the air, thwarting Alou's catch, and starting the rally that propelled the Marlins to an 8-3 victory. Ever since that eventful night, the whereabouts of Mr. Bartman remained a mystery to many.


It began a couple of months ago. While sitting in our usual seats in the Marlins "Fish Tank", we spotted a man a few rows away from us who looked strangely familiar. Suddenly, this mystery man catches a homerun hit by a player from, coincidentally enough, the opposing team. Despite the chants from the surrounding Marlins fans, the man refused to "throw it back" and then flipped off the other fans. Our suspicions began to bubble up.

Several weeks later, we spotted our mystery man again sitting in more or less the same seats. After intense scrutiny, we became convinced that we had found him. Steve Bartman, now in exile, and very likely a part of the Witness Protection Program, had resurfaced in Miami.

Then, just last week at the August 6 game against the Brewers, we find "Mr. Bartman" yet again. The shocking part was that, this time, we were sitting just above the left field bullpen... all the way across the stadium. While this led us to believe that "Mr. Bartman" may have been stalking our beloved editor of "The Book of Mike", that was the least of our concerns. "Mr. Bartman" was closer than ever... just two seats away.

Bravely, I reached for my camera, and while pretending to take a picture of Mike (the dorky looking guy in the foreground), I managed to zoom in and snap a picture of "Mr. Bartman's" profile (the dorky looking guy in the background). Have we found him? You decide.

Recognizing the fact that I may have compromised the efforts of the Witness Protection Program, as well as suspecting that Moises Alou has hired henchmen combing the web for Mr. Bartman's whereabouts, I feel it prudent to maintain my
anonymity. As such, I submit this guest column under the code name "Scratchy Throat".

Never before in the history of this blog (yeah, yeah, I know – that's not say much) has anyone other than me written here. Sure, I thought about enlisting a guest writer or two when I was on vacation, but that never really quite seemed right. Well, not until now.

"Scratchy Throat" (he's the one in the middle of that picture) and I (along with a group of others who probably wish to remain anonymous – including this guy, who I just can’t let off the hook) have been troubled by this Steve Bartman thing all year. Sure, last October everyone laughed about what a hero he was (from the Marlins perspective) and how he had allowed the Fish to advance to and ultimately win the World Series.

Seriously though, Steve Bartman is my hero. There is no team that I like to root against more than the Cubs. I've been that way my entire life. During Fox's broadcast of Game 6 of last year's NLCS I nearly became ill when I heard Thom Brenneman repeatedly drone on during the 8th inning about how the Cubs were only six outs away from advancing to their first World Series since 1945. When the Bartman incident occurred, and was nearly immediately followed by Alex Gonzalez's (then of the Cubs variety) misplay of a sure double play ball, I was ecstatic. The Cubs weren't going to win this game and they weren't a lock to advance to the World Series. Ultimately they didn't advance, of course, and we have Steve Bartman to thank.

But who really thought that Bartman would be made a part of the witness protection program? It sure seems like that's what happened. They could come up with a better disguise though. He's still got the hat, glove, headphones and glasses.In some ways I'm sure that a lot of you feel sorry for Bartman. I sure don't. Had he committed his mis-deed against a team like the Red Sox or the Phillies, he wouldn't be welcomed with open arms like he is in Miami. It's lucky for him that he interfered with Alou against the Marlins, where the fans are apathetic enough not to bother him, but the powers that be are corrupt enough to reinvent for a life for him in sunny South Florida. What a lucky guy!

I must admit though that it's fortunate for the Marlins that they are falling out of the race this year. I'm more than a little nervous that Bartman has become a double agent on the Fish… earlier in the year, as noted above, Bartman sat in the rightfield seats. He was in fair territory and a few rows up from the fence, so he was of no real risk to affect the outcome of the game. Lately, Bartman seems to have found his way to the terrace box seats, which are located along the leftfield line (that's where he is in the picture above). At Pro Player Stadium there's some room between the terrace seats and the field (separated either by the visitor's bullpen or some field level seats), so it's unlikely Bartman could do any serious damage. Still, it's nerve-wracking to see him moving closer and closer to the field.

Maybe it's part of his therapy though. It's entirely possible that part of his state-funded witness protection program includes therapy to help him work through the fallout from his lapse in judgment last October. If that's the case, then good for him. I hope that Bartman is able to get past his demons. Just don't let it cost the Marlins a game, OK?


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