Wrong ball destroyed to rid Cubs of demons
Tyler Clifton | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Feb. 27, 2004 -- The Boston Red Sox might have the "Curse of the Bambino" to deal with, but the Chicago Cubs will no longer need to worry about the dreaded foul ball that many blame for costing them a chance at a World Series title last October.

The ball that was batted away from left fielder Moises Alou by local Steve Bartman was properly disposed of Thursday night in what the club hopes will end its numerous years of futility and frustration. It's disheartening to see someone spend over $100,000 for a baseball, and there has to be just as many ways for the money to be better spent.

That said, it's entertaining to witness the blatant lack of sportsmanship by the diehard Cub fans. Bartman had every right to reach for a foul ball that was coming toward his head, and those who question his motives would've done the same thing. Chicago was only five outs away from its first World Series since 1945, but the foul ball incident played only a small part.

It was no ones fault but the Cubs themselves for their collapse. People fail to mention shortstop Alex Gonzalez's error on a routine grounder that allowed the Florida Marlins to score eight runs in the inning. If there truly is a curse, than they're blowing up the wrong ball.

Chicago has the talent on paper to not only get to the World Series this year but to win it as well, and it's comforting to know there will be no excuses if they fall short of the mark.

Boston on the other hand will find anyone to blame if they once again don't make it to the Fall Classic, if not Babe Ruth, then George Steinbrenner. It will be important for the Red Sox to go out and prove their worth on the field and not have players such as Kevin Millar spouting off at the mouth about how good they are.

It's nothing short of comical to see how sluggers such as Sammy Sosa, Gary Sheffield and Barry Bonds react when queried about the latest steroid allegations.

Sosa blew his fuse last season when a reporter handed him a cup and suggested he take a urine sample. Sheffield answered reporter's questions recently with those of his own, shying away from the subject after his name was mistakenly released to the press.

Bonds, the biggest target of the whole thing due to the records he threatens to surpass, denied ever using steroids and said he would submit a sample if needed.

Colorado reliever Turk Wendell had the guts to call Bonds' bluff, sending the future Hall of Famer into an outrage, telling Wendell to accuse him to his face and not through the media. Bonds seems to be crediting the arrest of his personal trainer Greg Anderson as a mere coincidence. The "innocent until proven guilty" factor still holds true in this case, but until those such as Bonds prove to their doubters they aren't using the drug, then they'll continue to be targets.

Former slugger Jose Canseco and National League Most Valuable Player Ken Caminiti have admitted to using steroids, and it's been proven that five to seven percent of players from the 2003 season used the drug. It should magnify the performances of pitchers who now know for a fact they haven't been competing on a level playing field.

This month is supposed to be a relatively quiet one with March Madness and Major League Baseball right around the corner, but the February frenzy continues.

A sixth grader in West Virginia was suspended for having a copy of a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. Sending the kid home to sit in his room and play video games, listen to CDs and feast on potato chips and twinkies for a few days will give him a lesson according to school officials.

The punishment certainly didn't fit the crime in this particular case. The magazine should have been confiscated with the kid and his parents sitting in the school office having a conference with administrators. It makes one wonder whether the next young lady who is caught reading her Cosmopolitan or whatever girls read these days will get the same result.

Tyler Clifton is a sportswriter for the News-Telegram. He can be reached at ty@ssecho.com.

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