Let's finally drop the foul ball debacle

From the sports editor

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BRAD SPENCER

It was the trial of the century and you convicted him unfairly, unjustly. But with new technology in DNA coding and other more relevant and obvious evidence, I'm certain Steve Bartman would be vindicated if I was his lawyer.

My list of people who I would call to testify: Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Moises Alou, Alex Gonzales, and Kyle Farnsworth.

My opening statement: "It was a cool October night at Wrigley Field. It was Game 6 of the NLCS. A win would advance the Chicago Cubs to their first World Series in 58 years. There was one out in the eighth inning and the Cubs were up 3-0. Mark Prior was pitching. He gave up a double to Juan Pierre. Then Luis Castillo was up. Castillo hit a foul ball down the left field wall. Alou ran over to the wall and zeroed in on it. A man's life changed forever after that, but is it justified to have him brandished a part of ominous folklore involving bitter goats? Is he the reason why the Cubs did not make the World Series in 2003? Should he be continuously mocked and ridiculed for his actions that night?

"Ladies and gentleman of the jury, after hearing testimony from individuals present that night I guarantee it will be time for the world to allow my client his individual freedom again. By the end of this trial the Bartman bashing will be over. By the end of this trial a Billy goat will go back to being the sole excuse for the Cubs' futility.

"I'd like to now call my first witness, Mr. Moises Alou.

"Mr. Alou, did you or did you not tell members of the press after the game that someone reached over the wall and hit your glove, preventing you from catching the foul ball?"

"I did," Alou would have to admit, because I'd have the evidence up on a PowerPoint screen behind me.

"Then explain to me why in this replay of the foul ball, no one, not Mr. Bartman, nor anyone else, reaches over the wall itself and touches your glove."

"I have no explanation."

"Did you get upset and jump up and down in left field after the ball was deflected?"

"I let out some frustration, yes."

I would then ask the judge if I could treat Mr. Alou as a hostile witness.

"You friggin' bird-brained idiot, did you or did you not make like an oversized 2-year-old and throw a screaming temper-tantrum?"

"I want my Daddy," Alou would whine.

I would then dismiss Alou and call Prior to the stand. "Tell the media Mr. Prior what happened next in that game."

"Ugh, I walked Castillo and then gave up an RBI single to Ivan Rodriguez."

"No further questions. I now call Mr. Gonzales. Gonzo, tell us what happened next."

"I misplayed a groundball which loaded the bases," Gonzales would answer.

"Don't you mean you botched a routine groundball your mother's mother could have fielded?"

Gonzo would then spout out, "Yeah but then Mark gave up a two-run double to Derrek Lee, which tied it up. They took Prior out and brought in Farnsworth, so it was only a matter of a few pitches before my error became obsolete."

"No further questions. I now call Mr. Farnsworth. Farnsie, fill in the blanks."

"We intentionally walked Mike Lowell, and then Jeff Conine hit a sac-fly and Mike Mordecai hit a three-run double, and I got into a fight with the dugout wall."

"Thank you. I now call Kerry Wood. Mr. Wood explain what happened in Game 7, where the Cubs had one more opportunity to advance to the World Series."

"We lost that game too."

"Thank you. The defense rests."

Steve, you're free to return to Wrigley.

E-mail: Bspencer@wjinc.com

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