Where were these umpires when the Cubs –and vilified fan Steve Bartman – needed them in 2003?
The Cubs benefited from a controversial judgement call at Wrigley Field on Friday, when the Cardinals’ Paul Goldschmidt was ruled out after his fly ball along the right-field line was snared by a fan reaching out into the field of play.
According to MLB’s rulebook, “when a spectator clearly prevents a fielder from catching a fly ball by reaching onto the field of play, the batter shall be ruled out.”
The right-field stands jut out and are pressed right up at the foul line, leaving little room for fielders to operate. Even a five-time Gold Glove winner such as Jason Heyward was going to have a difficult time making that catch as he tried to avoid colliding into brick.
But the umpires huddled and ruled that Heyward would have made the catch if not for interference, costing Goldschmidt a chance to finish his at-bat with a runner on first base and no one outs. Cardinals manager Mike Shildt challenged the call, but the ruling was upheld upon replay review.
It happened in the first inning of a mid-July game, so it hardly offsets the infamous play from Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series, when Cubs left fielder Moises Alou reached into the stands to try to make a catch but Bartman deflected the ball.
Alou blamed Bartman’s interference and – after the Marlins rallied for eight runs to take the lead and win Game 6, then eliminated the Cubs in Game 7 – so did the rest of Cubs Nation, which waited from 1908 until 2016 between World Series titles.
The Cubs proceeded to beat the Cardinals, 10-5, so this fan is free to live in anonymity unlike how Bartman was treated.