If you’re a baseball fan, you’ve likely heard the names Bill Buckner and Steve Bartman. Buckner played for the Boston Red Sox in the mid-80’s. Bartman was simply a fan attending a very important game for the Chicago Cubs. So, just what do these two people have in common? If you guessed that they are both scapegoats, you would be correct.
Despite an outstanding baseball career, Bill Buckner is perhaps best known for allowing a ground ball to go between his legs in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. The error would cost the Red Sox the game, evening out the best-of-seven series against the New York Mets three games apiece. The Mets would go on to win the World Series that year, and many would blame Buckner for the Red Sox epic collapse. Some thirty years after the fact, Buckner’s name remains synonymous with the baseball version of the scapegoat.
In 2003, Steve Bartman became the unlikeliest of sports scapegoats. In Game 6 of the National League Championship Series between the Chicago Cubs and Florida Marlins, Bartman, while sitting in the stands, “interfered” with a ball popped-up down the left field line, preventing the Cubs’ Moises Alou from making the catch. The Cubs would lose the game and eventually the series. Bartman would take the blame in the eyes of thousands of Cubs fans.
Buckner and Bartman are just a couple of the countless scapegoats, not only in sports, but in life. We seem to have a fascination with laying blame on someone other than ourselves. But, did you know that the term “scapegoat” is as old as the Bible itself.
In Old Testament times. the scapegoat provided a way of forgiveness for the people of Israel. Once a year, the sins of the Israelites would be placed upon the scapegoat which would then be released into the wilderness. With the scapegoat went the sins of the Israelites. The scapegoat was just one in a series of sacrifices used to atone for sin.
Now, I’m not claiming that our sins should, or even could, be placed on Bill Buckner or Steve Bartman, although many have tried. Likewise, I’m not saying that Buckner or Bartman should wander off into the wilderness, although I did hear that, following the foul ball incident at Wrigley Field, Bartman moved away from Chicago to… Yep, you guessed it – Florida. I just know that we all need a scapegoat in our lives, someone to put our blame, our sins on. I’m getting to the Gospel, the “good news” here, but you’ll have to check back tomorrow for more of the story.