For years, Bill Buckner's name was synonymous with the "Curse of the Bambino", but with the recent titles won by the Sawks, his error is almost forgotten.
Buckner received a standing ovation before throwing out the first pitch at the Red Sox home opener yesterday, and afterwards shed a few tears in an interview. This was the release of tension he's been waiting (deservingly) for 22 years.
How fickle are we, the fans of professional sports? Well, consider the fact that Buckner made that error in 1986, not to mention it wasn't even the last game of the series. Although there was a series of errors that led up to his, somehow Billy became the scapegoat. Could it be the foolishness of the error, as millions saw the ball pass between his legs as if he were incapable of bending down? Maybe... or it could just be the fickle nature of fans (baseball fans, in particular) who forgot that he was not the only one to make an error in that inning, or that the Red Sox went on to lose game 7, as a team.
Steve Bartman became the "Buckner" of the Cubs in 2003, but he will never have to withstand the treatment that Buckner went through, simply because he can just blend into the background and fade into bolivian. Yes, bolivian. How similar are the two incidents? Well, aside from the fact that one was a fan, and one was a player, it's frighteningly similar. You can do the research if you don't believe me.
As I listened to Mike and Mike this morning, I heard that someone made the comment "These guys are paid millions to play a game, I have no sympathy." When I seriously thought about this, I thought about Latrell Spreewell saying he needed more money from the Timberwolves because he "had a family to feed". I think the first thing we need to realize is that in general, we tend to live beyond our means. I mean sure, there's some of us who actually know how to spend our money wisely, but most of us are willing to throw money down the drain for instant redemption. That being said, your favorite sports star is no different. If you made a million last year, and you're paying for a 4 million dollar mortgage, it's the same as making $100,000 and paying a $400,000 mortgage. It's all relative, just on a different scale. I think that some fans fail to realize that players don't get the money guaranteed right off the bat, it's a check just like the rest of us. What does that have to do with Spree? Well, I don't quite know what his situation was/is, but I can't blindly assume that he said that only out of greed. We all want more money from our jobs, if you don't then you're a fool. He is no different than the next, except that he put on shorts to do his job, and we sit here in khakis and button downs.
Another thing fans fail to remember is that no matter how hard Big Papi whacked that beisbol last night, he's still human. Point a gun at him and pull the trigger, and he will bleed. I guarantee it. But but but... he's paid millions! So what? Human. Just like you. The guy makes a hell of a lot more money than you, playing a game you wish you still could, and that gives you a right to berate him if he might not hit another walk off HR. Or if, God forbit, he makes an ERROR. Holy crap, the world is going to come crashing down on us where we stand because a human made a mistake!
Let's be honest here, as perfect as I like to claim to be at times, I'm as far from it as possible. Some of you will read this and think I'm so far from perfect, I shouldn't be using the word so frequently, for fear that I'll damage the meaning. I'm perfectly OK with that. My only hope is that once in a while you ease up off of the mob mentality, and think about the times when you wish people would just forget your shortcomings.
Now, I know some of you will say that these guys are lucky because they're paid all this money to play a game, but lets face it, it's much more than that. Buckner is the prime example of that. Media sessions, taking crap from fans, long travel, massive amounts of time away from home, unbelievable stress and pressure, nervous breakdowns... I guarantee that a large percentage would not trade their current life for that of a sports star. At least not for the long haul.
So while you may still hate Bartman and Buckner, I will hang on to my autographed Bill Buckner 1984 Chicago Cubs souvenir program. The concept is a bit odd, but I had to tie in the Cubs one more time. Hell, I might even sell it to a Sawks fan. Better yet, I think I'll hand it down to my kids, and tell him who he was, and why it's hypocritical to treat our players with such disgust, yet expect our peers to treat us with dignity and respect. After all, they play for (us) the fans... and the key word isn't fans, it's PLAY. Don't worry folks, it's only a game.