Catching Hell Reviews
Another home run by Alex Gibney, forgive the pun. Excellent story telling, player and fan interviews and actual game footage show how one simple act, an error in Buckner's case and a reach for a foul ball in Bartman's case can change a life forever. Everyone forgets Calvin Schiraldi giving up 3 hits and Bob Stanley's wild pitch before the error. Everyone forgets Alex Gonzalez booting a sure inning ending easy double play grounder after the Bartman incident which would have prevented the huge inning the Marlins had. Fans, history and the game can be beautiful and cruel in the same game.
In a more general sense, "Catching Hell" also examines the history of the word scapegoat in its mission to show how some people are unfairly blamed. As long as we're on the subject of etymology, it should be noted that a possible origin for the word fan comes from fanatic, for which we see plenty of examples here.
I actually did not know much about this prior to watching Ken Burns' baseball documentary a few weeks back. It was mentioned in there, but this documentary is the full story. The big Cubs fan who merely reaches up for a foul ball, then gets blamed for some awful baseball. It's just a terrific story all around. Gibney did a great job of capturing it.
It's not terrific in the sense of good and bad for humanity. Every clown who booed Bartman that night and after is an asshole and an idiot. But there's a good chance I would have done the same had I been in at Wrigley Field on that night. And that's the magic of the story. Everything that happened is so absurd...but it happened and people still talk about it.
My bottom line is this: Bartman did nothing wrong. I often get out of the way of balls, etc during high school events because the items coming into the crowd are not worth catching an accidental elbow, etc. But if I'm at that game six and the Cubbies are five outs away from a trip to the series...I'm grabbing that ball. Everyone around Bartman went for the ball. Everyone who cares about baseball would have went for that ball. While it did change the momentum in the game, it sure didn't have to. Only one run had crossed before the star shortstop - best fielding percentage in the league that year - booted an inning-ending double play. That cost the Cubs the game. They blew it themselves in game seven. There is no curse, just inconsistent baseball. That one man has suffered such a price for going for a foul ball when we all would have done the same thing...shame on Cubs fans who still think that way.
Overall, Catching Hell is the best sports documentary I've ever seen and shows how powerful a stupid game can be amongst society.