The ball came down from the sky, practically into his lap, and he did what little boys and girls who bring their mitts to games do: hope they make a catch so dazzling, managers cry out, “Sign that guy!” As I watched from a bar that night in 2003, I pointed out how the Chicago police had rushed to protect Steve Bartman from yahoos who might do him harm. “They’ll take him out,” I told my wife. “They’ll drive him home. They’ll post a guard to keep him safe. And then they’ll beat the s--t out of him.” But like any Cub fan, I know that Bartman—a dedicated Cubbie lover—isn’t to blame. Yes, he blocked Moises Alou from catching a foul ball that might have been the second out of the next-to-last inning in a game that the Cubs needed to win to go to the World Series for the first time since 1945. But Bartman can’t be blamed for the walk and wild pitch that followed. Or the shortstop’s flub, or the double that ultimately broke open the game. I’m to blame. Just as soon as the Cubs had banked the first out of the eighth inning, I turned to my wife and said, “Darling, we’re going to the World Series.” It was a reckless utterance from anyone who knows how Cub history is filled with hexes from billy goats, black cats, and Mets. I can’t tell you how many fellow Cub fans have shared similar confessions with me since then. We counted the last outs before they could be hatched. Steve Bartman just paid for our sins.