Baseball Magazine

Catching Hell

By Kaiser31083 @andythemovieguy

Catching Hell

Steve Bartman deflecting a foul ball from the reach of Moises Alou in the 2003 NLCS

In 2003, it appeared that the Chicago Cubs would be able to lift the curse that had plagued their team from 1908. The had a stellar pitching staff, potent bats, and were up 3-2 in the NLCS at home against the Florida Marlins. Then while winning 3-0 with one out in top of the 8th, a foul ball was hit toward the left field wall which looked playable for outfielder Moises Alou, until it was swatted away by fan Steve Bartman amidst a sea of fans also attempting to catch the ball. The Cubs proceeded to implode, lose the game and the following one, ending the Cubs World Series dreams and making Bartman a scapegoat and the target of death threats. In "Catching Hell", director Alex Gibney studiously dissects this incident, as well as the Bill Buckner error in game 6 of the 1986 World Series, and questions why such foibles among a series of others get pinpointed and used as a target by fans and the media. Through interviews with Bill Buckner and fans and security personnel at the Bartman game along with members of Chicago and Boston media, we get a greater sense of how these incidents went down and how the mythology behind them was perpetuated. Gibney ("Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room", Taxi to the Dark Side") is one of the few documentarians who understands how to make his material palatable to viewers and his presentation here is absolutely fascinating. Though it is an extension of and not an actual part of "ESPN's 30 for 30" series, "Catching Hell" is the most accomplished of the group and the first that I would deem warranted for a theatrical release.

Catching Hell

Bill Buckner (rear right) chases the ball he booted in the 1986 World Series

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