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The Bacsik-Bonds at-bat, pitch-by-pitch

I wasn't surprised in the slightest to learn that Tim Redding was accusing Mike Bacsik of grooving the fastball that Barry Bonds smashed for career home run number 756 back in 2007. I recall rumblings at the time within the Nationals' clubhouse to that effect -- although, in my recollection, those rumblings were more pointed towards the enjoyment Bacsik seemed to get from his sudden celebrity, as opposed to outright accusations that he served up No. 756 on purpose.

(The following spring, in fact, I wrote an entire story on Bacsik's newfound fame, which he certainly did not appear to shun. In the story, he denied suggestions he had grooved the pitch.)

But yeah, in my memory the pitch that led to No. 756 was a velocity-challenged fastball right down the middle of the stinkin' plate. In the 2 1/2 years since, I don't believe I had viewed the pitch -- let alone the entire at-bat -- again.

Luckily, MLB.com has the entire game in its archive. (I found it by googling "Bonds 756 video," then clicking on this link, then the "watch" button next to "Bonds hits No. 756." This brings up the pop-up media player with a replay of the home run. Near the top right of the media player is an option to open a linescore, from which you can choose any half-inning to pick up the full game action. I chose the bottom of the fifth, and there was Barry, digging in the batter's box.)

Here is a pitch-by-pitch description (the observations are mine) of the entire seven-pitch at-bat:

Pitch No. 1: 86 mph fastball, high and away. Ball one. Bonds barely flinches at it. He's seen this act many a time. He's probably thinking he's about to be pitched around. But in all likelihood, Bacsik simply overthrew the fastball.

Pitch No. 2: 74 mph breaking ball, low and away. Ball two. Catcher Brian Schneider catches it just above the dirt. Again, Bonds barely flinches -- yeah, he's probably thinking: another four-pitch walk -- and asks the umpire to change balls.

Pitch No. 3: 86-mph fastball, outside corner at the knees. Called strike one. A quality strike, as perfect a pitch as Bacsik could have made. The Giants' TV announcer (I think it's Mike Krukow) agrees: "A perfect pitch from Bacsik. I mean, he nailed that little cut fastball, outside corner." This changes the whole at-bat -- Bacsik isn't just going to walk Bonds after all. Bonds digs in.

Pitch No. 4: 85-mph fastball, outside half of the plate. This one catches more plate, and Bonds unloads on it, fouling it straight back. Bonds watches the flight of the ball as he strolls out of the batter's box. He just missed it. The count is 2-2.

Pitch No. 5: 77-mph breaking ball, outside. A quality pitch -- with that classic lefty-on-lefty slider movement, beginning over the plate, then bending away -- which most LH hitters in baseball would have swung at. ("I'm swinging at that one," the announcer says. "That's a great 2-2 pitch.") But Bonds wisely passes, bouncing on his heels in the batter's box after the pitch goes by. Full count.

Pitch No. 6: Breaking ball (no mph given on TV), outside corner. Another excellent pitch, and Bonds is fooled, making a weak swing and barely managing to dribble it foul down the first base line. Nationals first baseman Dmitri Young (!) slides over, retrieves the ball and tosses it back to Bacsik. But someone (it's unclear who) asks for a new ball, and Bonds and Schneider appear to exchange a few words, good-naturedly, as a new ball is put in play by the umpire.

Pitch No. 7: 86 mph fastball, middle of the plate, waist-high. You know what comes next. Schneider had set up his target on the outside corner, low, and had to extend his mitt clear across his body to get to the spot where Bacsik's pitch was headed.

The seventh pitch was clearly the worst pitch of the at-bat, from Bacsik's perspective. Bacsik may have grooved the fateful pitch -- I can't say for sure that he didn't -- but nothing that happened during the rest of the at-bat points to that conclusion. Viewing the at-bat now, I see a guy who, at least at times, legitimately attempts to retire the greatest hitter of his generation.

I don't think he was being unsportsmanlike or traitorous. I think he was just being Mike Bacsik.

By Dave Sheinin  |  January 29, 2010; 8:25 AM ET
 
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Next: Nats agree to terms with Miguel Batista

Comments

Maybe Redding is jealous. He gave up a HR to Bonds in his first AB the next day. Maybe he wanted to be the guy.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 29, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Also, thanks for this. Very cool of you to provide us with a pitch-by-pitch account.

Now, on to PECOTA. 80 wins?

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 29, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Thank you Dave.

And, shame on Tim Redding. Whether he is right or wrong, there was absolutely no reason to go there at this time. Just mind-numbingly mean and spiteful for whatever reason. Perhaps Tim had been hoping to give up the homer himself the next day - of course he would have had to do it in the first five innings as Redding seldom made it through the 6th.

Posted by: natbiscuits | January 29, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like he tried to get him out. Redding needs to just shut up. Guys leave pitches over the middle of the plate all the time.

Posted by: Section505203 | January 29, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I certainly believe 80 wins is quite possible. Furthermore I believe the NL wild card will be won with less than 90 wins this year. I'm not predicting the Nats will be in contention for the Wild Card, but an 80 win pace would mean they would have a Hail Mary hope of contention well into August. For those looking for a little titilation late in the season that would be a significant change from previous seasons.

Posted by: natbiscuits | January 29, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Why would Bacsik groove one on the 7th pitch? If you want to be a part of history, don't you do it on the 1st or 2nd pitch? More likely is that Mike Bacsik is who he is - a medicore MLB pitcher - who left a ball out over the plate. It was bound to happen - if Mike Bacsik had more command, more consistently, he would have had a longer, more successful career.

Posted by: comish4lif | January 29, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

MASN reporting that the Nats signed Miguel Batista to minor league contract. Solid pickup IMO.

Posted by: jfromPG | January 29, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

So did anyone else meet Jim Riggleman at the Baseball Express dinner in Rockville last night? What a great guy! And what a fun event. I didn't realize that he was a native of Twinbrook! :-)

Posted by: twinbrook | January 29, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/01/nationals-agree-to-terms-with-miguel-batista.html

Posted by: FloresFan | January 29, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I like the additions to the FO this past offseason....I thought it was done in 2007 but hey, what the heck, I can move on from that, just open the checkbook a little wider and get some legit talent in here.

Posted by: Section505203 | January 29, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

You do realize they just paid the highest amount ever in the history of baseball for a draft pick, checkbooks been opened!

Posted by: Stu27 | January 29, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse
-------------------------------------------

Stu, you must be new here. Otherwise you'd know by now that any money the Lerners do spend is totally ignored by the Lerners are Cheap crowd. All they care about is money the Lerners don't spend.

Just ignore those guys. They're nothing but a broken record.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 29, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Dave, great piece. Now we can put this issue back to bed. And focus on the really important stuff. Such as how cheap the Lerners are.

Posted by: BobLHead | January 29, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

ABM,

What we want is watchable baseball. Recall the 5 unearned runs in the home opener that continues a losing streak that leaves the team completely non-competitive. Recall a second baseman who booted the first two ball hit at him in 2008 after team refused to spend on Hudson. Nobody cares about how much money they spend if they win....but they do not win, they do not even compete at all....I want to see a competitive MLB product.

Posted by: JayBeee | January 29, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

JohninMpls - I mentioned this in the previous thread, but PECOTA actually says 82 wins, not 80.

Another poster has pointed out that CAIRO has the Nats at 73 wins, so let's not fall all over ourselves, but predicted parameters of 73-82 wins sounds a heck of a lot better than 59 wins to me...

Posted by: Section220 | January 29, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

A winning season? Holy crap.

Granted, we were seven games off our Pythagorean last year, so that 73 projected wins could be an actual 66-96 season with our luck.

Which would lead to the exact opposite feeling in September - chasing 82 wins or running away from 100 losses.

----

ohninMpls - I mentioned this in the previous thread, but PECOTA actually says 82 wins, not 80.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 29, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

It was the 3rd AB for Bonds, too, wasn't it?

-----

Why would Bacsik groove one on the 7th pitch? If you want to be a part of history, don't you do it on the 1st or 2nd pitch?

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 29, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

What I remember most about the Bacsik-Bonds game is that the Nats won.

Posted by: KenNat | January 29, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I don't think we're a .500 team just yet. If we don't add any more pieces then I think we're in 70-72 win territory. Another starter and Hudson might get us to 80. At that point, though, we're in the mix, and if you throw in breakout seasons for, say, Dukes and Desmond, and a successful midseason callup for Strasburg, well then you never know. Which is exactly why we need the friggin acqueducts. We need to be standing on a solid base before we can make the jump.

Posted by: BobLHead | January 29, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

... so okay, Dave. You've provided a pitch-by-pitch, and your assertion that Mike B. 'grooved' it. So what's your point? It happened; it's yesterday. Get over it; get on with today.

... Bonds is a disgraced has-been; so is his career. Yours just may be in jeopardy if you dwell on the past.

Go Nats!!

Posted by: natscanreduxit | January 29, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

A catfight between two washed-up never-was pitchers just doesn't have anywhere near the cachet of the Conan-Leno smackdown, now does it? We should all probably be losing as much sleep pondering the question "Did Bacsik actually groove that pitch?" as we do on "Will Teddy ever win?" Of course either one is way way better than yet another round of Lerners are Cheap.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 29, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Like the Miguel Batista pick up, we keep stocking up that bullpen. Each pickup makes this bullpen look less and less like the previous years.
14 holds with Sea last year is 4 better then our best reliever last year, and he gets a minor deal. Only goes to show you the depth that they have amassed in that department.

Posted by: Stu27 | January 29, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I think the point is what Bacsik said BEFORE the HR, the 1st paragraph in this article:

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070808&content_id=2137117&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

Whether or not he grooved it in or not, Bacsik has the competitive edge one would expect from a pitcher who tops out at 86 mph. What an embarassment! I'm not saying you have to let that sort of thing eat at you, but don't act like a total pushover. Name another pitcher who would have acted like Bacsik?

Posted by: dclifer97 | January 29, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Mike Bascik was on the XM baseball channel last night. He had some scathing remarks about Tim Redding and vehemently denied grooving the pitch to Bonds. He stated that he and Redding don't like each other and that he just decided to take the high road after the Bonds homer. He currently has a sports radio talk show in Dallas, Texas.

Posted by: cokedispatch | January 29, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Dave - thanks for a great readout. When I heard the allegations, having watched that game live, I thought "well, maybe" but it didn't gibe with what I thought I remembered. To me, "Being Mike Bacsik" is a much better explanation. It would be fairly diabolical to throw pitches 5 and 6 and then say "Ok, now having laid to rest the idea that I WASN'T grooving on, I can safely go ahead and groove one."

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | January 29, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Carrying over:

I know that we're in DC and all, but seriously, what's the deal with trying to split the fanbase (or at least those sectors that post to this blog) into either the Kool-Aid Drinker or the Fed Up category?

I suppose it does have some utility as far as setting up a situation where one can throw out a rhetorical grenade in hopes of goading the "other side" into defending its point of view in the other side of a long, tired, drawn out argument in which neither participant has a snowball's chance of convincing the other to change their point of view. And for the rest of us, it keeps our scrolling muscles nice and limber. blahblahblah Kool-Aid drinker...scroll scroll...blahblahblah crybaby...scroll scroll...

You know what they say about opinions. Everybody has one. (and a right to it, I might add ;-))

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 29, 2010 12:28 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 29, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Bacsik was HORRIBLE. If he threw a really bad pitch 7 pitches in to an at bat is it really that shocking? Not saying he did not groove the pitch but I also believe it to be pretty reasonable that he did not.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | January 29, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

We should all probably be losing as much sleep pondering the question "Did Bacsik actually groove that pitch?" as we do on "Will Teddy ever win?" Of course either one is way way better than yet another round of Lerners are Cheap.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 29, 2010 11:31 AM
_____________________________________________________________

Or trying to keep up with yet another one your monikers, ABM.

Posted by: Section505203 | January 29, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

-----------------
Viewing the at-bat now, I see a guy who, at least at times, legitimately attempts to retire the greatest hitter of his generation.
I don't think he was being unsportsmanlike or traitorous. I think he was just being Mike Bacsik.
By Dave Sheinin | January 29, 2010; 8:25 AM ET
***************
... so okay, Dave. You've provided a pitch-by-pitch, and your assertion that Mike B. 'grooved' it. So what's your point? It happened; it's yesterday. Get over it; get on with today.
... Bonds is a disgraced has-been; so is his career. Yours just may be in jeopardy if you dwell on the past.
Go Nats!!
Posted by: natscanreduxit | January 29, 2010 11:31 AM

------------------------
Huh?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | January 29, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Typical Washington: What did he know and when did he know it.

And lay off the "cheap Lerner" crap, folks. They're doing exactly what they should now. I think they knew when they bought the team with JimBo at GM that they weren't getting anything good. Now with a decent GM, decent manager, a front office that is working it's collective patootie off, they're in a position to open their wallets. And look what we're getting. A shot a decent team this year.

See you at NATSFEST on Sunday! Go NATS!

Posted by: luv2bikva | January 29, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Thinking back on the Bacsik Era, what's surprising to me is not that somebody would accuse him of grooving a pitch. What's simply astounding to me is that he was able to ever get anybody out. Ever.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | January 29, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

"Thinking back on the Bacsik Era, what's surprising to me is not that somebody would accuse him of grooving a pitch. What's simply astounding to me is that he was able to ever get anybody out. Ever."

Nook Logan managed to get a few hits too. Sh*t happens.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 29, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Bacsik is a self-proclaimed Dallas Cowboy fan so it would not surprise me a bit if he chose fame over integrity.

Posted by: JohnWWW | January 29, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I once met 2 former Major League pitchers who knew Tracy Stallard,the guy who threw the pitch that Roger Maris hit for HR no.61.They insisted he grooved the pitch.In fact,one of them said,"I would have done the same thing."

Posted by: seanmg | January 29, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Downing grooved it to Aaron for #715, McClain grooved #500 to Mantle. Like this is new?

Posted by: JonnyKnowItAll | January 29, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Mantle's 500th was off of Stu Miller of the Orioles.

Posted by: seanmg | January 29, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

McClain gave up the last homer of Mantle's career.

Posted by: luckyute | January 30, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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