I’ve come to believe that, in many ways, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is all-powerful when it comes to Chicago.
- Close more schools than anyone in Chicago history? Check.
- Build a brand new sports stadium downtown that nobody seems to want? Check.
- Push through a second parking meter deal that ends up costing Chicagoans even more than the first one? Check.
So if Mayor Emanuel is so powerful, I figure, why can’t he turn that power towards solving a vexing problem that’s been hovering over Chicago for a decade now?
I refer, of course, to the ongoing media and fan obsession with Steve Bartman.
Monday was the 10th anniversary of that fateful day when Bartman acted like a fan and reached for a foul ball in the late innings of a Wrigley Field playoff game between the Chicago Cubs and Florida Marlins back in 2003. By deflecting the ball away from Cubs outfielder Moises Alou as it went near the stands, he was seen as causing the Cubs to lose and ultimately creating yet another curse on a team known for them.
But at this point, none of that matters. What matters is that Bartman continues to live his life with a fatwa on his head, unable or unwilling to tell his side of the story despite more than a decade passing. In that time, the Cubs have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that it wasn’t his actions that kept them from advancing to the World Series that year. Instead, the culprit is the fact that, in oh so many ways, the Chicago Cubs simply aren't very good at baseball.
So, to end this travesty seeming without end, I have a modest proposal: I want Mayor Emanuel to pardon Steve Bartman.
Now I know, Chicago mayors don't have the power to officially pardon someone. But in this case, it would seem that even a symbolic act would go a long way to telling everyone who hasn't gotten the message yet—such as media outlets looking for an easy story or lunkhead Cub fans looking for someone to blame for their choice to follow a perennial loser—that the matter has been closed.
It’s not like something like Chicago doesn’t have experience in righting historical wrongs before.
In 2002, the city became the first in the nation to require business vying for city contracts to disclose whether they ever profited from slavery.
A few years ago, there was a movement to rename a city street named after an Italian war criminal.
Heck, the City Council once even granted a pardon to Mrs. O’Leary cow, long suspected of starting the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
It’s not like Mayor Emanuel would have any problem lining up the votes in the city council for such a measure. A couple of well-placed phone calls, a few promises to spruce up a city park or a couple of extra garbage men assigned to a ward, and presto! Instant council approval. And then the city can announce that Steve Bartman has been found innocent of any and all wrongdoing.
Or, if that's too much trouble, he can just follow his usual style of gathering some invited guests, holding a press conference and governing by decree.
After all, somebody needs to step in and end this cosmic injustice.
Or at least spare us the unnecessary anniversary stories year after year.