08.08.07

Mike Bacsik Makes History, Giants Lose

Posted in Baseball at 9:43 am by

I have a pretty clear memory of watching Hank Aaron hit his 715th career home run off Al Downing on April 8, 1974, and I remember looking forward to the first few games of that season with great anticipation.

By contrast, I was surrounded last night by friends — former, new, badly influential, etc. — in a local tavern that chose to show Comedy Central (on mute) rather than ESPN’s coverage of the Nationals visiting the Giants.

As you surely know by now, Barry Bonds connected for his 756th career home run last night off Washington’s Mike Bascik, with a subsequent Giants bullpen collapse being a mere footnote on this occasion — but what else is new?

And while the New York Post’s Brian Costello refers to Bonds as “The Sultan Of Syringe” — no doubt turning a blind eye to NewsCorp’s role as accessories in baseball’s longball boom — my own sentiments regarding Barry’s achievement are mixed. While I find many of his sparring sessions with the media to be high entertainment, there’s noting funny at all about the behavior described in “Love Me, Hate Me” nor was ESPN’s ill-fated “Bonds On Bonds” anything other than a sloppy exercise in egoism.

Still, if there’s room for a world class creep like Ty Cobb in the Hall Of Fame, Bonds’ legacy should rest on his accomplishments between the lines. And while there’s that leaked testimony indicating Bonds has been the beneficiary of some clear, creamy no-goodness, the same may or may not be true of Randy Velarde.

Bonds insisted last night the record isn’t tainted, and while I’m sure Floyd Landis admires such consistency, I would still prefer the scrutiny afforded to the legitimacy of the HR chase was extended to more than just one big, brooding scapegoat. Was the Mets’ 2007 playoff run, aided by Guillermo Mota, tainted? Bonds’ record tying blast on Saturday was served up by San Diego’s Clay Hensley, himself a previously suspended PED user. Prior to a remarkable physical transformation in his mid thirties, are we allowed to wonder how many home runs Bonds might have hit against pitchers who had a (chemical) competitive advantage?

In stark contrast to the Used Car Salesman’s immature, sadly self-righteous handling of Bonds’ assault on the record, Hank Aaron deserves considerable praise for offering his congratulations (albeit via long distance). When and if A-Rod breaks Bonds’ mark in a decade, I am certain Barry will make a similar gesture.

For a large appearance fee, anyway.

Regardless of whether that lucky Mets fan sells the historic ball, surely it is more important that Pedro Gomez’ eyebrows are shipped to Cooperstown?

7 Responses to “Mike Bacsik Makes History, Giants Lose”

  1. Marc says:

    I have to agree with ESPN.com’s Gene Wojciechowski who had a great column this morning that stated “I can’t pretend what Bonds did Tuesday night in front of a national television audience and his adoring but myopic Giants fans is anything more than a make-believe piece of baseball drama.”

    I can’t get myself excited (in a positive or negative way) about someone breaking a record in a completely meaningless game during a completely meaningless season for a completely meaningless team.

    I was much more upset about Oliver Perez and the Mets offense shitting the bed against the Braves than Hank Aaron’s record falling last night.

  2. David Roth says:

    That’s as it should be, though, right Marc? I’d imagine that most actual baseball fans feel that way. The sport is built around teams, but sports media’s built around personalities — the players and, increasingly about even with them, the branded sports pundits who cover them — and so the latter is more what we hear about. But I can’t imagine any real baseball fan being more excited about the Bonds chase than they are about their team, whatever that team may be. Well, maybe the Rangers. Bum-mer.

    That said, I can understand why GC went to the game, and I liked what he wrote about being there and strongly agree with what he wrote about Barry and his role in this baseball era. Mostly, I think the focus on Bonds is lazy journalism, the same way I think it’s unhelpful and uninteresting when our political media focuses on haircuts and imaginary spats between candidates instead of actually talking about issues that have bearing on our lives. It’s harder to cover a team (or health care) than it is to bloviate about an individual (or his haircut), after all, and that’s obvious from the way our media has fixated on this in the midst of what’s generally a pretty interesting season, pennant race-wise. Bonds’ record means something if you want it to; I thought for a while that it did to me, but thinking about it now, I’m as interested in the fact that Mike Bacsik will now get a modicum of immortality.

  3. GC says:

    Marc,

    I think it would be fair to say that some of Hank’s 755 home runs came during what we’d characterize as meaningless games against meaningless teams. And while Barry’s Giants are an old, irrelevant team in 2007, for the bulk of his career he’s played in games that mattered.

    David,

    just to clarify, I did not attend last night’s game. And while I was at the Marlins/Giants game on 8/28, that was mostly the result of being in SF on vacation that weekend. I’d have been pretty willing to go to that one even if Barry’d already hit 756 or was guaranteed to sit.

  4. Alex says:

    Out of curiosity, how many sports fans who bemoan Bonds’ accomplishments as nothing but illegal, steroid-enhanced trickery are going to be pumped up for the following NFL season?

  5. Ben Schwartz says:

    My favorite legal counsel, Dusty Baker, made the point this AM on Yahoo Sports that Barry is now going thru his 3rd Grand Jury investigation over steroids without even an indictment. I’m with Barry on this. The guy hit 756 home runs, if we’re going to * his record, close the f’n deal on this already or give the man his due.

    I agree with GC that Barry’s issues have more to do with being a pill than taking them. Why is it the same shit aimed at Barry was aimed at Maris and then at Hank Aaron? Why is Babe Ruth the goddamn standard of baseball? He never played against African-American players in any capacity and his record is valid? He never had had to hit in the 9th against a hardass closer like Sutter or Eckersly. He was as much a moral degenerate as Barry is supposed to be, so fuck who “should” hold these records. Baseball has never been a perfectly level playing field, and Barry’s accomplishment(s) are as valid as any body else.

    The Babe sucked, and everyone knows Leo Durocher would have beat his fat ass in the Dodger locker room had the Bums not separated them.

    Btw, I take Advair for my asthma, meaning I wrote this post on steroids. I expect CSTB to show up in person when I break the posting record, regardless.

    Ben

  6. Rog says:

    Ben, you’re an apologist, myopic fuck.

  7. Ben Schwartz says:

    I’m a mypoic anti-Ruthist fuck.

    Ben

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