Bacsik playing for chance to serve up more history
When Mike Bacsik answered the cell phone he was sitting on another minor league charter bus, this one going from Toledo to Columbus. The movie "Lions For Lambs" was playing on the drop-down monitors."Tom Cruise is in it," said Bacsik, "and that other guy -- I call him Roy Hobbs. I forget his name in real life."
I've got an 8-year-old godson/nephew named J.T., or "Buddy Lee," as we call him, because as an infant he looked just like a blue jean advertising icon. Head as a big as a canned ham.Anyway, Buddy Lee plays baseball, can throw a two-seamer or four-seamer, and collects trading cards. We were looking through his recently purchased packets when we came across Mike Bacsik's Upper Deck card. "Who's this?" said Buddy Lee. Good question. I mean, I knew he was on the wrong end of Barry Bonds' 756th. And I remember him handling the attention with grace and professionalism. But I didn't know where or what he was doing at this exact moment. Was he still with the Washington Nationals? Nah, I don't remember him getting drafted in our 41-team fantasy baseball league -- and we draft everyone. So I looked him up in the Baseball Prospectus 2008. "...only re-signed him to a minor league deal with an invitation to camp," it read. Then I called ESPN baseball savant Tim Kurkjian, who gave me some background and at the very end of the call said, "He's a really good guy." If Kurkjian gives you the seal of approval, that's saying something. I e-mailed and called the Columbus Clippers, who are Washington's Triple A affiliate. They put me in touch with Scott Leo, the team's director of broadcasting, who gave me his cell number and told me to call him on the team bus after a recent 10:35 a.m. (10:35?) game. Kurkjian was right. Bacsik was a pro's pro. He found a semi-quiet spot on the charter bus so he wouldn't disturb anybody else, and answered every question. We had to try three different times because of cell phone dead spots. And when I called him at home on a Sunday morning to doublecheck something, he was cool with that, too. "Got two kids," he said. "Been up since 8:30." The Prospectus calls Bacsik a "soft-tossing southpaw." Maybe so, but the Nationals could do worse than take another flier on him at some point during the season. They're already seven games under .500 and eight games out of first in the NL East. And I've got a confession to make to Buddy Lee: I stole his card. You know, research. -- Gene Wojciechowski
I know how important that home run was to the history of baseball, but I'm just trying to get back to the big leagues. It's Barry Bonds' record. I'm just a footnote.