Could this be Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year?
Seriously? If so, I'd think he's be a great story...
Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated chose Washington Nationals' pitcher, Mike Bacsik, as his Sportsman of the Year. I saw live on TV when he gave up the 756th homer to Barry Bonds, and of course it is a moment now enshrined for better or worse in baseball history.
Rather than some guys like Donnie Moore who head into oblivion after such an incident, Bacsik ate it up and soaked in the moment. Literally.
Here's an excerpt from Jenkins' piece:
The moment called for perspective, but Hank Aaron was not there to give it. The moment called for grace, but Bud Selig was not around to offer it. The moment called for humility, but Barry Bonds was not willing to provide it.
And so, the moment that threatened to damage baseball forever had to be saved by a little-known pitcher for the Washington Nationals named Mike Bacsik. Yes, the man who gave up home run No. 756 is also the man who made it just a little bit tolerable.
As Bacsik stood on the mound at AT&T Park on Aug. 7 -- the historic home-run ball leaving a vapor trail over his head -- he had three options. He could slink away like Selig. He could pout like Bonds. Or he could give baseball the levity it really needed.
"Well," Bacsik said, "If I didn't give up this home run, nobody would ever remember me." Then he did what Bonds never could. He laughed at himself.
Just like that, the new home-run king was upstaged by a journeyman. While Bonds was the usual portrait of self-congratulation -- pounding his chest, pointing to the sky, wearing a T-shirt with his own image -- Bacsik was pure self-deprecation.
I have seen and interacted with Mike Bacsik in the flesh, and I'll tell you what was just expressed and what you may read is unbelievable; however, it is no act. At times, he seems to be happy and honestly privileged that he's in the game. He's nothing special and just a serviceable pitcher; however, after giving up homer 756 to Bonds, he's emerged as somewhat of a infamous cult icon in the Washington area.
I recommend you read the rest of the piece, and maybe the idea of a fringe sometimes-starter, sometimes-reliever might be worthy of such an honor. Most guys would have been upset or sulked, but Mike not only handled it like a pro, but a also a student of the game.
*** To learn more about Washington D.C., check out the ABOUT D.C. Blog...