Remember Mike Bacsik? He was the guy who served up home run number 756 to Barry Bonds back in 2007. Back in January he was accused by former teammate Tim Redding of grooving the pitch to Bonds, which caused a minor dustup. Bacsik came out of that looking OK, though, because it turns out that Redding has often been a jerk to teammates and, hey, Bacsik is just some ex-pitcher trying to make a living on the radio.
Turns out that Bacsik is the bigger jerk, however, as yesterday he tweeted the following after the San Antonio Spurs beat the Dallas Mavericks: “Congrats to all the dirty Mexicans in San Antonio.” The tweet was almost immediately deleted, but nothing ever dies on the Internet.
A lot of people thought Bacsik served up the homer to Bonds in an effort to make a little living for himself out on the memorabilia circuit. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that he’s not going to be invited to sign “Mike Bacsik #756” on worthless baseball cards anytime soon.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉