Was Yesterday a Good Day or a Bad One for Mike Bacsik?

By now anyone who cares about baseball, Barry Bonds, sports in general, or steroids already knows that last night Bonds hit career home run No. 756, breaking Hank Aaron‘s record.

First, congratulations to “watamatyu,” a.k.a. Hunter Bishop, the first blog commenter who correctly picked the Nationals’ Mike Bacsik as the pitcher who would surrender the record home run. Bishop was the second person to comment on a post that got more than 100 guesses. (Some of them had to resort to pitchers like Doc Ellis.) And Bacsik wasn’t even Bishop’s first choice: he wanted to pick John Lannan, but the first commenter beat him to it. As promised, Hunter will get a signed copy of Freakonomics, as well as a brand-new Freako-yo-yo.

Even though Bonds did his thing during a late West Coast game, I happened to see it live on TV. Last night was the night we launched this blog on the New York Times site, and it took a while. I got home so late that the Giants-Nationals game was already well underway, and while I wouldn’t have normally stayed up so late to watch it, I did watch since I was already up. And I’m glad I did. Whatever you think of Bonds, it is always fun to see history being made. A few things happened that seem worth mentioning:

1. None of the Nationals’ players gestured toward Bonds or shook his hand as he rounded the bases.

2. His family looked more relieved than happy, and I can’t say I blame them. These last few months/years have probably been pretty rotten for them.

3. Soon after the home run, the stadium played a video message from Aaron, which was well-crafted, well-delivered, classy, and wise.

4. In light of the question I asked in the contest post about whether giving up a record-breaking home run like this is really such a terrible thing for a pitcher’s career, it was interesting to hear a phone interview that the ESPN broadcasters (sorry, don’t remember which ones) did with Bacsik’s father an inning or two before the Bonds H.R. It turns out that the elder Bacsik, Mike Sr., was also a Major League pitcher, and he talked about pitching to Aaron, and mentioned that, even as Aaron’s playing days wound down, he was still a fierce hitter that pitchers avoided. It was a great, funny interview — Bacsik was candid and salty — and I hope that the ESPN producer who found him got a nice fruit basket today from his/her boss.

But what I still want to know is this: in the long run, was yesterday a good day or a bad one for Mike Bacsik Jr.?


"1. None of the Nationals' players gestured toward Bonds or shook his hand as he rounded the bases."

This statement is a bit misleading as the Nationals' catcher, Brian Schneider, remained at his position and was looking right at Bonds and was applauding as Bonds was acknowledging the crowd. Maybe this wasn't shown on the ESPN feed. I was watching the local SF Fox Sportsnet feed.

Nancy Milholland

Some of the Nationals players who remained out on the field during the tribute were clapping at various times.


Why would they applaud him? After all, he just scored against them...


Giving up a home run is always a bad day for Mike Bacsik Jr. I heard an interview with the pitcher who gave up number 715 to Hank Aaron and the only thing he is known for, despite a successful career, is giving up the home run to Aaron. I think Bacsik Jr. will suffer the same fate.


John Brady

Mike Bacsik Jr will just be an incidental footnote in the record book. If he wanted at least some mention of his career noted in the record then this would be a good day. If he has greater exploits this pitch wouldn't lessen them, only one of many for Barry Bonds.


Before yesterday did you know who Mike Bacsik Jr. was? Now you do, sounds like a good thing to me as far name recognition goes.


I liked Mike Bacsik's "tip of his hat" to Barry Bonds as well as his generous remarks afterwards. It is definitely a good day for someone who will be remembered as a gentleman and a good sport.


Great day for Bacsik Jr. He earned the respect of Bonds, many fans, and all of his peers by actually pitching the way you are supposed to pitch. No wimpy 3-2 offspeed pitches 3 feet off the plate like so many other pitchers have done. It appears that Bacsik himself doesn't view it as a bad day, so I would say his viewpoint is the most important one. And, by the way, if the only thing Al Downing is known for is giving up 715 to Henry Aaron, that says more about the ignorance of the public than anything else.


John Brady is right on. I heard a commentator quote either Bacsik or another pitcher saying in essence: you can be remembered either for greatness, or for being part of a great moment, and, since he (Bacsik) probably won't be remembered for his greatness, he'll be happy to be part of a great moment.

Bill R

I have good information that both Bonds and Bacsik both got up this morning and put on their socks one foot at a time. If they can remember this momentus event as much as the event of last night, their lives will ultimately be richer and more fulfilling.

From where I sit the name to remember is Matt Murphy--the guy who got the ball!

By the way, am I the only one out there with a crazy sense of humor, who's enjoying the fact that a controversial, drug-related player broke Aaron's record? I mean--isn't this all just as important as shopping-at-Macy's in the scheme of things in this lovely world of ours these days?



Completely offtopic, but I wanted to register a complaint that the rss feeds are now chopped off with the new site. If that and the incredibly slow response times today are any indication of how the change to the Times is going to affect the blog, I give the move two thumbs down.

Charles Spolyar

NPR had an interview with Al Downing that was pretty good on this. His basic point is YES it's good to be remembered... Just think about how many major league players there have been that no one remembers.


Tim Dierkes

Weirdest part to me was Bonds' treatment of his son when he got to home plate. He kind of ignored the kid for the most part, instead going to his teammates.


Did anyone catch the ball?

he/she'll be more famous.

PS - I reall hate typing in an email address every time I want to comment.


The fact is that Bacsik wouldn't have been remembered at all if not for this.

Steve Curtis

To Tim Dierkes --

I too noticed that Bonds basically ignored his son. His son embraced him at home plate, but Bonds stood there pointing up at the sky. Then, when the son released him, Bond turned away without touching or acknowledging him. What was that all about?

John Brady

To commenter #15 (Discordian): use Firefox as your web browser. It fills in info nicely.

Michael Huston

The Giants are still way, way out of playoff contention and not at all a feared team. And, the Nationals won the game...Bonds is right that lots of people put their butts in the seats to see him hit home runs. Too bad for the Giants fans who show up hoping to see a competitive team. His salary is the main reason they can't afford more good players that would make a complete team.


I think the greatest sight from last night's event was that out of a sea of Giants fans, it was a Mets fan from Queens that ended up with #756. I think that ball should be ceremoniously blown up when old Shea goes down. Lets Go Mets!


Praytell, what does this have to do with Economics? Do you know how many fiends are wasting valuable time and effort filling our media landscape with nonsense about Bonds. Why do you have to join in? Perhaps you should take a page from David Ricardo and stick to what you do best.