Monday, April 13, 2009

Local Giants fan gets the Bartman treatment

Steve Bartman is the Chicago fan who robbed Moises Alou of a foul flyout in the eighth inning of what should have been the deciding game for the Cubs in the 2003 National League Championship Series.

Instead, the incident sent the Cubs’ psyches spinning out of alignment and turned what could have been a World Series celebration into another evening of soul torture for the “loveable losers” and their much-maligned fans.

As if it weren’t enough that the Cubs are always nine toes off the ledge anyway. They and their passionate, neurotic fans didn’t need another reason to jump.

Now, leap forward in time.

Enter Patterson’s Jennifer Cozart, who last week, committed a similar — albeit not nearly as historically significant — faux pas.

Like Bartman six seasons ago, Cozart must have been thinking: “Front-row seat. Left-field line. Cool. Maybe I’ll get a foul ball.”

But after she interfered with a double struck off the bat of Milwaukee Brewers infielder Bill Hall in the fifth inning of last Wednesday’s game at AT&T Park — Facebook users can see the video here — three words must have entered her mind:

“Passport. Sunglasses. Nepal.”

But, really.


If you were Bartman or Cozart, you’d have done the same thing.

You’d have stuck out your hand and tried to catch the ball. You wouldn’t be thinking about the count, or about how many base runners were aboard or about how many outs the Giants were or weren’t away from sealing the victory on the second day of the 2009 season.


Especially if you were talking on your cell phone with your sister-in-law.

You’d say, “Get outta my way, I’m catching this baseball.”

You would. Because you are a fan, and in moments such as that, fans are not rational.
Come to think of it, fans are rarely rational.

That’s why fans celebrate world titles and beating Michigan State by burning cars. It’s why Cozart left last Tuesday’s game, escorted by ballpark ushers, ducking food and beer showers.

Nobody who’s rational throws a $9 beer at someone. A $2 beer, maybe.

We realize that these days, fans make a larger emotional investment in their teams than players or management do.

But come on, Giants fans.

Cozart didn’t mean to do wrong. She tried to field a ball that she instinctively deemed foul. Distracted by her phone conversation, the ball, at least in her estimation, was out of play.

She had to leave with a security escort. She could no longer sit and enjoy the game with friends and family. In my opinion, missing a ballgame on a clear night under the lights at AT&T Park is punishment enough.

The ballpark is where we’re supposed to enjoy ourselves. We check our anger at the turnstile. We don’t bring in the hostility baggage. It’s not OK to pelt someone with concessions because they inadvertently interfered with the game.

Fans could stand to apply the emotional brakes. After all, a game is just that.

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