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Spotlight back on Bartman for ESPN anniversary series
By Ted Cox | Daily Herald Staff

Steve Bartman back in the field of play and the public spotlight, as ESPN plans an hourlong documentary on him as part of its "30 on 30" series to mark its 30th anniversary this fall.

 

Associated Press file

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Published: 7/30/2009 4:11 PM

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With Moises Alou sitting in a front-row seat at Wrigley Field this week, where was Steve Bartman - on the field?

Well, the star-crossed Cub fan finds himself back in the field of play and the public spotlight, as ESPN plans an hourlong documentary on him as part of its "30 on 30" series to mark its 30th anniversary this fall.

Bartman, of course, deflected a foul ball that Alou tried to catch down the left-field line with the Cubs five outs from the World Series in 2003. Alou didn't get the ball, and the Florida Marlins went on to score eight runs in the inning, win the sixth and seventh games of the National League Championship Series and take the World Series from the New York Yankees.

In the process, Bartman became an infamous figure hounded for days by many media outlets, but documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney, who previously did the Oscar-winning "Taxi to the Dark Side" and the Oscar-nominated "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," will reportedly focus on whether Bartman can now forgive Chicago, not vice versa.

"I zeroed in on the story of Steve Bartman because I am interested in the collective mania of a city and the need to find a scapegoat for disappointment," explained Gibney, citing himself as a lifelong fan of the Boston Red Sox only recently freed from the so-called Curse of the Bambino. "I am also very interested in the need for scapegoats. I want to hear from the goats and the scapes."

Perhaps that means he'll also find some air time for shortstop Alex Gonzalez (he dropped a routine double-play ball), pitcher Mark Prior (he became unraveled), manager Dusty Baker (who pulled Prior too late) or Kerry Wood (who couldn't hold a Game 7 lead).

The project was announced this week in Southern California as part of ESPN's fall-season presentation to the Television Critics Association. The 30-part series, celebrating ESPN's launch in 1979, will debut Oct. 6 and run through next year. Chicago filmmaker Steve James, who did "Hoop Dreams," will focus on a 1993 incident involving Allen Iverson, and John Singleton, who did the feature film "Boyz n the Hood," will do "Marion Jones: Press Pause."