I actually ended up very disappointed. I didn't quite catch it, but I'm assuming Gibney (the director) is a Red Sox fan, because for a documentary on Bartman, it sure had an awful, awful lot on Buckner. It just wasn't all the relevant, didn't add anything to the story, and felt like filler. That was an hour of a two-hour documentary. Cut all the Red Sox stuff out, and you've got a much stronger movie. It wasn't as long, but I felt the same about the minister going on about the historical origin of scapegoat and Gibney's time in the WGN Radio studios.
Disappointed as I was, there were some very strong points to the documentary. All the different angles and edits of the play were very well done. The movie seemed a little more enamored with matching up the radio play by play with the action as it happened* than I was, but other than that, I loved it. It was an athletic Zapruder film. They made very good use some footage taken by fans at that game. Everyone was going in expecting history to be made, and they got it. Just not in the way anybody ever imagined. They talked about how Bartman has added to the mystique by just disappearing and refusing any and all media requests. And, well, it didn't really hurt that he looked like the biggest dork ever. Is he? We don't know, and it doesn't really matter. In this story, perception is everything. That was one of the themes of the movie.
*The radio broadcast that Bartman was presumably listening to in those headphones was seven seconds behind the actual game action.
Now, I do think the documentary overstated how Chicago feels about Bartman. I guess I'm not from Chicago and I don't spend very much time there, but I do pay a lot of attention to sports media and Cubs/baseball fans around. Beyond the immediate aftermath, I don't think anybody blamed Bartman. I've heard people blame Alou,* but that's just downright dumb. If you just had a chance** to make a defining play in such a huge game for such a dogged franchise, and you missed the play through no fault of your own, I would hope you would throw a little bit of a fit.*** No, I think most of Chicago understands that the usually sure-handed Alex Gonzalez booting a tailor-made double play ball is what really ruined the inning. And series. For all the media types and fans and players they talked to, I don't know how they didn't talk to Gonzalez. Maybe he didn't want to talk, but it would have been nice to have been told that.
*And by people I mean one crazy caller on ESPN Radio today.
**A very, very good chance. I thought Alou had it at the time, and I feel even more strongly about that now.
***They tried to lay some of the blame at Alou's feet for the crowd turning like they did, but I thought that was also way overdone by the movie. As we saw in the 2008 playoff debacle against the Dodgers, it doesn't take much for Wrigley's mood to turn during a playoff game.
So, all in all, it was a swing and a miss for me. I wouldn't mind watching the movie edited down for an hour. I think I would have liked it much more that way. But, as is, I would have much rather been watching the Cardinals or one of the big wild card games, like I plan on tonight. I don't really too much care who wins and loses, I just want two game 163's.