Yeah. You could have heard a pin drop in that stadium. That was a tough one to watch. And then obviously losing that game it just felt like the energy was sucked out of the whole city.
Did you guys ever talk about Bartman? Like, years later, did that ever come up? What's your take on him and his place in Chicago sports history?
I thought he was unfairly criticized. I felt terrible for the guy. And even Moises—he could have come out a little earlier and said what he did, about how he didn't think he could have caught the ball, but I think deep down he felt like he got a chance at it. And the more you watch it the more you realize that he had a chance.
But the more you watch it the more you realize that 99 out of 100 fans would have probably interfered with it. If it wasn't Bartman, someone else would have interfered. It's tough when you have a ball that's going to land on your head to think, "Just let this guy catch it." I've been in the stands before at a baseball game. If the ball's coming at you, your first reaction is to catch it. [Laughs.] You're not looking at Alou and looking at the ball. You don't have that much time to really make that decision. You don't know how close it is to the wall. Anybody would have done that. Anybody.
I think any fan would have done that. I feel terrible for the guy. I've never blamed him one bit. I've always been a, "You take care of stuff on the field," and we had a chance if we played clean baseball to win the game. If we don't boot the ball at shortstop we probably win the game. And you can't pin it all on one guy. It's not Alex's—he's human, he's going to make errors. But if you take care of what you can take care of on the field, and you pitch and you catch the ball, and you do it better than the other team, you're going to win most of the time. And unfortunately it was one play that upended us. That to me was the biggest play of that game.
What's your perspective on the widely-discussed theory that Dusty rode Prior too much and that he mishandled the pitchers and the innings in that game, and such and such.
I don't agree with it at all. Prior, like you said, he went 10-1 down the stretch. He was the best pitcher in baseball. Him and Kerry both. You can always go back. Hindsight is 20-20, and that sort of a thing. But [Dusty]'s a firm believer that if he's got horses, he's going to ride his horses. As a starting pitcher, I appreciated that. I wasn't that caliber. I wasn't a dominating punch-out guy. But if I was rolling—and he'd ask you, too. "How do you feel?" And it's your job as a pitcher to be honest with him. If you feel like you're getting tired, then you gotta tell him. If you feel like you're running out of gas and he leaves you in and you give it up, it's on you.
If he asked Mark how he felt, I'm sure he said he felt great. Mark was never a guy that was going to say, "I'm tired." He was a strong kid. So Dusty comes from the old school, and starters would throw. When he had horses, he was going to ride those horses as long as he could. You don't get many opportunities to go to a World Series, either. And he had confidence in his bullpen but he had a lot more confidence in Mark Prior than he did in anybody else in that bullpen.
You can always look back and criticize this and that, but the bottom line is that he got a ground ball, we didn't make the play, and we lost the game. Kyle Farnsworth came in, and he didn't do his job. He didn't get the outs. You go down the line in that eighth inning and you can criticize that inning all you want. But we didn't score any runs in the bottom of the ninth. And we didn't score in the bottom of the eighth for that matter.
You still gotta score runs. It's not over just because it's 8-3. I know it's a lot tougher to come back from. But I think Dusty—you don't want to second guess. I know that he was second-guessed quite a bit even after that year, but there are not many managers who have gotten that far as a Cubs manager throughout the whole history of the Cubs. It's just a tough one to swallow. It just wasn't meant to be, Jack. [Laughs.]
Jack M Silverstein is a RedEye special contributor. @readjackWant more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye Sports' Facebook page.