ESPN couldn’t help itself. The company that once aired a 30 for 30 documentary on Steve Bartman titled “Catching Hell,” went back to that well again when promoting a broadcast of the Chicago Cubs banner-raising ceremony April 10 at Wrigley Field.
Now Chicago Cubs fans fuming on Twitter about the ad, which prominently features a Bartman lookalike while former Cubs favorites David Ross and Rick Sutcliffe, who are both now analysts for ESPN, stand around a bar.
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The Bartman lookalike has nothing to say in the ad, but Cubs fans have had plenty to say about his inclusion since the ad first aired during ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball telecast.
Here’s just a taste of the backlash.
Was that really Bartman in that @espn promo for the Cubs home opener?!
— Patrick Glynn (@pmglynn) April 2, 2017
let bartman go, espn. it's embarrassing.
— katie dzwierzynski (@kdzwierzynski) April 3, 2017
Hey ESPN, go screw yourselves for putting a guy in a Bartman costume for that promo. Let. It. Go. Leave the guy alone. It's not cute.
— Brad Robinson (@bradrobinson8) April 3, 2017
Jesus Christ, the Cubs won the World Series and ESPN still wont let Bartman have some peace.
— nottheqb (@nottheqb) April 3, 2017
— Cajun (@bigcajunwba) April 3, 2017
— Will Byington (@willbyington) April 3, 2017
Somewhat surprisingly, Sutcliffe added his voice to those being critical while broadcasting Monday’s Braves-Mets game for ESPN.
“I’m getting worn out about that … by some of the people on Twitter. I had nothing to do with it. And obviously it’s [not funny]. I walked in to do something with David Ross. That’s all I knew.”
If Sutcliffe voiced similar concerns to those producing the ad, they obviously didn’t listen.
The Cubs seemingly exorcised the franchise’s demons last fall, winning the World Series for the first time since 1908. Yet for whatever reason, it seems some people have yet to let go of the characters that sometimes rightfully, but often incorrectly, were recognized as symbols of the franchise’s misery.
Among the most prominent of those characters is Bartman, the headphone-wearing fan whose interference with Moises Alou’s attempted catch during Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series led to one of the biggest collapses in sports history. Since then, Bartman has been vilified by some, and supported by others, but the majority seemed to agree it was time to move on long before the Cubs won it all.
Of course, there was a lot of talk about Bartman making a dramatic return to Wrigley Field last postseason. However, he’s remained firm in his decision to remain out of the public eye, which is certainly understandable. Until that changes, there’s no reason to continue making awkward and untimely references. The backlash here supports that, and hopefully the collective message is received.
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