By Fred Wallace
I once saw a great sports documentary called " Catching Hell "
The premise for the video was " scapegoating ", looking for people to blame and the primary focus was on Steve Bartman.
In a National League Playoff Game in 2003, Bartman, a Chicago Cubs fan, reached out of the stands for a foul ball, deflected it, and disrupted a potential catch by Chicago outfielder Moises Alou.
Had Alou been able to catch the ball, it would have put the Cubs within 4 outs from winning their first National League pennant since 1945.
History tells us the game was altered, Florida won the game & the series and the Cubs had to wait 13 more years to win a World Series......all because of Steve Bartman.
As fascinating as the Bartman story was, the producers took scapgoating back to the mid 80's and offered a compelling look at another ball player.
Bill Buckner played for 22 years Major League Baseball,
A young star, Buckner broke into the majors in 1969 with the Los Angeles Dodgers
After a trade to the Chicago Cubs in 1977. Buckner won the National League batting title in 1980, was an All-Star in 1981 and remarkably broke the 100-RBI mark in 1982, despite hitting only 15 home runs.
Nobody remembers that....
EVERY baseball fan remembers Buckner from his Boston Red Sox days, thanks to an untimely error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series against the New York Mets; an error that allowed the Mets to rally & win Game 6 and then take Game 7 and deny the Red Sox a long awaited Championship.
Buckner was the scapegoat, and in the documentary they chronicled his return to Fenway Park to throw out the first pitch in 2008 after the Red Sox Championship season in 2007.
Bill Buckner was warmly received that day, but emotionally, he also was shaken, breaking down somewhat during a news conference.
In May, Bill Buckner passed away at age 69 and it remains equally sad that he'll always be remembered, or scapegoated, for a single bad moment in a very good baseball career.