Moises Alou
(April 2008)

Or perhaps the title this month should be "Tardy and Incompetent Well-Intentioned Liar of the Month."

You see, way back in 2003, the Chicago Cubs appeared to be on their way to the World Series, and perhaps even to a World Championship that has now eluded the unlucky franchise for a full century. But just as victory seemed within the team's grasp, and it was poised to triumph in what would have been the final game of the National League play-offs against the Florida Marlins, an inattentive Cubs fan wearing headphones managed to get in the way of a foul pop-fly that Cubs left-fielder Moises Alou was preparing to catch. The out wasn't made, the floodgates opened, and a seemingly sure Cubs victory slipped away, and with it the play-off and dreams of World Series glory. The fan, Steve Bartman, was pilloried by the media and the community. Eventually, he had to move out of Chicago, as his name entered Cubs lore as a villain for the ages.

Now comes Alou, five years later and playing for the Mets, announcing to the world that the poor guy got a bad rap. "Everywhere I play, even now, people still yell, 'Bartman! Bartman!' I feel really bad for the kid," Alou told Associated Press columnist Jim Litke. "You know what the funny thing is? I wouldn't have caught it, anyway."

Isn't that generous? Noble? Kind?

Well, no. The time to absolve Bartman from guilt was before his life was ruined, his reputation sullied and his name stained with infamy, not half a decade later. This is like telling Al Gore today that there was a Florida voting machine error in 2000 that robbed him of the votes he needed to be elected. It just makes things worse. At the time, Alou wasn't so magnanimous; in fact, he was certain that Bartman had wrecked the play. The videotapes show him jumping up and down, cursing, pointing into the stands. "I timed it perfectly, I jumped perfectly. I'm almost 100 percent that I had a clean shot to catch the ball," Alou told the press in 2003. "All of a sudden, there's a hand on my glove. Hopefully, he won't have to regret it for the rest of his life." Moises is the one who fingered Bartman, make no mistake about that. Now he wants to be Mr. Nice Guy, and it's too late. It's so late that he doesn't earn any ethics points for the effort. He's like the fireman who got lost, arrives after the house has burned to the ground, and then tosses a bucket of water on the smoldering ashes.

And to top it all off, Alou's absolution of Bartman is almost certainly a lie. There is all that videotape, you see, and it clearly shows poor Bartman getting between Alou and the ball. It also shows that Alou believed that Bartman has interfered with the play. Nothing stopped the Cubs from winning the game after the fateful foul ball, of course: the players, not the hapless fan, should have shouldered all the blame at the time, and let Bartman off the hook. But they let him be crucified, and it's too late to un-nail him now.

Seldom has a well-intentioned lie been so obvious, so inadequate, and so damning. When it takes five long years to figure out what the generous and responsible response should have been, its sometimes better not to bother. Now, thanks to Moises Alou, Steve Bartman (or whatever alias he's using these days), is reminded of what might have been, if only a player had thought to be kind and generous when it might have done him some good. Gee, thanks Moises!

Thanks for nothing!

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