I know what Elsa would tell me to do with my righteous indignation over the narrative tropes being regurgitated as the Cubs find themselves in the playoffs once again. But I just can’t let it go, can’t stop being angry about all the idiocy abounding.
While the national media has long been willing to prop up tired ideas like they’re writing screenplays for Weekend at Bernie’s 3, I usually have a little more faith in my fellow Cubs fans. But then I see a story about a guy starting a GoFundMe to raise money to send Steve Bartman to Pittsburgh for the Wild Card game. As of last check, over $1,600 had been generated. All for a trip that will never happen.
There’s too much wrong with this for me to explore in one post and I value my own sanity a bit too much to perform more than a cursory excoriation, but I had expressed my opinions a bit on social media and felt the need to vent with a bit more room to maneuver. Begin catharsis.
First, the idea of raising money for this “cause” smacks of hero syndrome to me. I’ve promoted GoFundMe and Kickstarter campaigns in the past, but those were for causes I really believed in and had been started by friends. I even started my own (epically failed) GFM campaign to raise money for a local high school’s athletic department. Regardless of success, each fundraiser with which I’ve associated myself has had a concrete goal in mind.
Steve Bartman is not going to go to Pittsburgh to watch the Cubs. We — and I’m using this in the royal sense, as I’ve never laid an ounce of blame at the poor man’s feet — put Bartman through hell after that game 12 years ago and he’s become a recluse as a result. Why would anyone think $5,000 and a ticket to a ballgame in another city would drive him out into the sun? “Hey, I know you can’t go out in public anymore, but would you be willing to compromise your privacy for five grand?”
Because I can’t imagine that anyone would actually believe they could make a guy’s life right by handing a cursory apology in the form of a check, but let’s assume the man who started this has his heart in the right place. What, then, has motivated people to actually give to this cause? Are they buying indulgences for the sins they committed in pinning the loss of their dreams on Bartman? Is it a kitschy novelty that gives them a chuckle?
The latter reason is really the only part of this that I find even moderately acceptable, but I have to think there are better ways to spend your disposable income than on a fake fundraiser for a guy who continues to be a pop culture phenom a dozen years after he burst onto the scene. I suppose there’s an ulterior motive though, and one that allows for a convenient moral emergency exit for those who climbed aboard this rickety train of an idea.
Keque Escobedo, the man behind the fundraiser, describes his motives thusly:
Lifelong Cubs fan wants to make amends for 2003, lets make it happen. First we need to find him to get him to the big game. If anyone knows where he is at, tell him we are looking for him. The money would pay for his expenses including his ticket, hotel room, flights and a little spending money.
If he cannot be found by time of the big game all the proceeds raised will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.
If the idea of making amends to Bartman is the bait, that last line is the well-timed tug on the pole that firmly sets the hook for all the fish who’ve swallowed it. “Oh, hey, it’s cool if it doesn’t really go to Bartman because there’s a worthy cause on the back end anyway.” But if you wanted to give your money to a charity, why not just go right to the source and avoid the service fees that will inevitably be skimmed by the croudfunding site?
The fallback charity is quite fitting though, given the fact that most of us would love to forget about the stated goal of this campaign. And Alzheimer’s research is something very close to my heart, as I watched my paternal grandmother ravaged by the disease over the better part of a decade. This affliction stole her from us, took who she was and wiped it clean like so many notes on a dry-erase board.
But Alzheimer’s doesn’t even leave the ghost images of old words behind as it extinguishes every synaptic fire in its path. That icy bitch of an infirmity still pisses me off and remains the reason I cringe every time I step foot in retirement or nursing homes. I hated going to visit my grandma in her last years and I have lived with regret over it these last 22 years. But this isn’t about me and my hang-ups.
Even though I think it would mean the naivete involved is off the charts, I really hope Mr. Escobedo is sincere in his efforts. That said, I really hope you don’t help him with them. Wanna make amends to Steve Bartman? Build a time machine, travel back to October 14th, 2003, and don’t be a dick to him. If, however, you lack a Delorean and a flux capacitor, maybe you can just leave the dude alone. Wanna donate to Alzheimer’s research? Visit alz.org and donate there.
Maybe I’m being petty or exaggerating the size of this molehill, but the fact that this fundraising campaign is getting off the ground is just baffling to me. Baffling enough for me to take nearly 1,000 just to write “Get off my lawn.”
So I’ll ask once more that you refrain from donating to the Bartman Fund, even it’s only so you can spend that money on a World Series champs shirt in a few weeks.