- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
He proved it—not a twitch, not a blink—as Werth whacked a two-run single in the sixth, widening the Phils' lead to 3--1. "My anger ran its course years ago, as all natural things should," he mused. I loved this guy. I sprang to the concession stand to snag us two more beers, shocked by the beer lady's edict that I could buy only one. The police, watching swagger turn to stagger, had just decreed a one-per-customer limit, forcing me to take two steps to the right, to the beer lady beside her, to buy my second.
I returned just in time to begin singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame only to notice, out of the left corner of my eye ... yes, another marriage busting out, a young man on one knee offering up the big question and the big rock to a young woman in a sleeveless Cubbie T-shirt.
"Just—say—no!" chanted Judy behind me.
"What right have they to be happy?" queried Fred.
The woman, 21-year-old Megan Bart, slipped on the ring and flushed. The man, 27-year-old former Padres minor leaguer Rusty Moore, rejoiced. "Why here?" I asked him.
"Because the atmosphere is unmatched," he replied. Even trailing 3--1? "This year, for once, I just don't think something bad is going to happen," he said.
Something bad happened. Ryan Howard, as Rusty spoke, poleaxed a pitch to dead center: 4--1 Phils. Werth bludgeoned another: 5--1 Phils.
Freddie Scar Tissue just sat and sipped, transcending. "In the early '60s," he said, "I saw the Cubs give up a three-run homer on a bunt. How can life disappoint you after that?" His head moved in a small radial. "These fans believe we'll win this year. I can't let myself be sucked into it."
It was time, I decided, to put the Buddha's detachment to the ultimate test. Yes ... Bartman.
Bartman, the young man wearing earphones and a Cubs hat in a seat near the leftfield line who, on the evening of Oct. 14, 2003—with Chicago leading 3--0 and five outs away from a World Series berth—rose and touched a foul pop-up just as Cubs leftfielder Moises Alou reached for it, possibly preventing him from catching it, initiating a catastrophic sequence of events, including a butchered double-play ball, that resulted in an eight-run inning and culminated in an 8--3 loss to the Florida Marlins ... and no World Series, again. Bartman, the one incident that provoked Cub Nation to lose its sense of humor, to shower slurs and threats, until two diehards, one of them a pyrotechnician, had the cursed ball rigged with explosives and blown to smithereens.