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.?