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Baseball go boom

Cubs fans. What can you say?

If a curse can somehow live in the intricate windings of cork, rubber, yarn and cowhide that make up a baseball, then the Chicago Cubs can look forward to a luckier future.

The team’s catastrophic playoff meltdown last October began when Steve Bartman batted a seemingly catchable foul ball away from a Chicago outfielder, capping decades [of] Cubs ineptitude — much of it blamed on an unshakable jinx.

Chicago fans the world over are hoping a massive measure of modern-day voodoo will put an end to all that.

The ball will be obliterated by a special-effects expert on live television tonight to lift the “curse” afflicting the Chicago Cubs and bring some closure to one of the most painful losses in the team’s doleful history.

Grant DePorter, who helped buy the ball at a December auction for $113,824 on behalf of Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group, has lined up three hours of music, comedy and celebrity appearances leading up to the climactic event — everything short of Steve Bartman, the fan who deflected the ball during Game 6 of the National League championship series.

The ball will be sent into oblivion by Michael Lantieri, an Oscar winner who wrecks things for a living and has worked on such movies as “Jurassic Park” and “Back to the Future.” Lantieri, a Cubs die-hard himself, would not reveal his exact demolition plans but admitted he has been blowing up a dozen balls a day in his California lab in preparation.

“That ball’s gotta go,” said DePorter, managing partner of the restaurant group, which organized the event as part of its annual tribute to Caray, the beloved Cubs broadcaster who died six years ago Thursday. “It’s like the ring from `The Lord of the Rings’ and we’re kind of like Frodo, trying to get it over with.”


The ball will get VIP treatment in its last hours, from a farewell trip to Wrigley and a last night on public display in a hotel suite to a final “dinner” of prime steak and lobster and even a massage.

Then comes the final reckoning. Among thousands of fan suggestions for the act: having NASA put the ball into orbit, dropping it off the Sears Tower and having Chicago native Bill Murray, in “Ghostbusters” gear, obliterate it.

DePorter promises only that “it will be destroyed in a way that there is a mess.”

Practicing for the big moment, Lantieri has tortured baseballs in various ways, concluding that “they’re harder than you’d expect to blow up.”

Anybody else reminded of the bits David Letterman used to do in which objects suggested by the studio audience were crushed by a steamroller or a hydraulic press? My favorite was “A good nutritious breakfast”. I’m shocked to learn that MSNBC and ESPN will be covering this event and not the Cubs’ flagship station/corporate masters WGN, but there you have it.

More here. I like this guy’s suggestion for Steve Bartman. He really could be a Tom Arnold for this generation if he wanted to, which is perhaps why he doesn’t. Some fans of other teams would like to get in the act as well. Maybe we could make this kind of thing into an annual ritual. Hey, we do it twice, it’s a tradition! Various links via David Pinto.

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One Comment

  1. William Hughes says:

    Newsday did an article on this subject yesterday that included the Second City troupe’s new comedy on how Steve Bartman was responsible for everything that has happened since that fateful night, including the missing WMD in Iraq. The performance ends with what would have happened if he didn’t block Moises Alou from getting the ball.

    Bartman leans back, Alou jumps up to make the catch, and in typical Cubs fashion, the ball drops out of his glove.