If you thought Teddy was the Washington Nationals’ ultimate lovable loser, think again. The team’s own Mike Bacsik has been nominated for Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated writer Lee Jenkins.
Bacsik, the journeyman lefthander with a 5.46 career ERA, was one of several improbable starters for the 2007 Nationals, whose already-thin rotation was decimated by injuries before last spring’s cherry blossoms had finished blooming. His 20 starts were largely unmemorable, except of course for August 7, when his named was penciled into the lineup and he promptly served up home run #756 to a certain slugger named Barry Bonds.
He was soon back in the minors, but thus did Michael Joseph Bacsik pitch himself into the history books alongside Al Downing, who for the past 32 years as profited from his fame as the man who gave up the previous record-breaking home run to Hank Aaron. Had Bacsik pitched a no-hitter that day, he could not have achieved such significant and sustained recognition.
For those who love to hate the new home run king, Jenkins argues that Bascik provided the perfect antidote to Bonds’ self-congratulating ego. As Bonds thumped his chest and pointed to the sky, Bacsik stood on the mound and laughed at himself. The self-deprication continued after the game. “I always dreamed about this as a kid,” Bacsik said. “But when I dreamed of it, I thought I would be the one hitting the home run.”
Jenkins says that the lovable, self-depricating loser Bacsik single-handedly made the moment tolerable. I don’t know if that makes him Sportsman of the Year, but given how long it’s going to be before any other Washington National stands a chance at that honor, I say “why not?”