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Bobby Jenks

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  • Bobby Jenks

    Some crazy stories behind this kid...sounds like Steve Nebraska.

    Sox relying heavily on Bobby burly

    October 3, 2005


    CLEVELAND -- The White Sox took a bunch of spare parts, odd pieces, discarded engines and rusty carburetors, threw them together and came up with something unbelievable. The best team in the American League will play the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday at Sox Park in the first round of the playoffs with Jose Contreras as the starting pitcher.

    Contreras was the guy who tipped his pitches, remember? And then he couldn't figure out where the plate was. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who was supposed to be a clubhouse cancer, will be his catcher. Pitcher Orlando Hernandez had had major arm surgery and somehow managed to keep a straight face when saying he was in his mid-30s. Left fielder Scott Podsednik, who scares pitchers to death from the basepaths, had had one good year in his career. Second baseman Tadahito Iguchi was signed on what the Sox saw on a videotape.

    "The White Sox aren't on Japanese television, so I didn't know much about them,'' he said through an interpreter. "But I'd like to think they saw me.''

    They didn't.

    Rookie with a rocky past

    Parts. Somehow, they worked. But the most amazing one, the one that is the most worrisome, is Bobby Jenks. Playoff games usually are low-scoring, and the Sox are always scoring-challenged. So there are going to be a lot of close games. And there's going to be a major need for a closer.

    Jenks is a rookie who started the year in Double-A. The Sox picked him up after the Los Angeles Angels dumped him. He had a rocky past, based on off-field stuff, and was labeled as a guy with a million-dollar arm and a 10-cent head.

    He's a big, beefy country boy in the big city about to face the Red Sox on national TV.


    "It's never an issue with my confidence,'' he said. "I'm just thinking one pitch at a time.''

    It's hard to get your arms around the legend of Jenks' past to separate fact from fiction. When the Sox called him in July, he said he considered it the first day of his future. He wanted to look forward.

    That made sense. But for an outsider, it's hard not to look back.

    Especially when you hear the stories. Jenks, 24, is a huge man, bigger than an NFL linebacker. At 6-3 and at least 270, he would dwarf Brian Urlacher. Yet he has a shy smile and a pudgy face and seems about as relaxed as anyone you've seen.

    He throws 100 miles an hour and came somewhere from the deepest, darkest part of the sticks. When major-league teams first found him and worked him out, he apparently fired his first pitch over the backstop and nearly killed a scout.

    They say he lived in a cabin without electricity in Idaho.

    "That stuff is exaggerated,'' he said.

    Exaggerated isn't the same as untrue. Apparently, there were at least other homes and a town nearby.

    An ESPN The Magazine story a few years ago described Jenks as a binge drinker, nearly fighting with his manager in Class AA Arkansas over Jenks' strong desire to have booze on the team bus. He then was demoted to Rancho Cucamonga.

    "He is where he wants to be [now],'' Doug Sisson, the former manager, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in August. "He should be credited for that. If he was flipping burgers now, if he had never figured it out, then you could condemn him. But it's obvious. He stepped back. He turned it around.''

    He has overcome

    You get the sense that his problems were self-inflicted, self-victimizing, a punk kid suddenly living on the road in excess. How many kids with 10-cent heads are in the minors, ruining their chances and never growing up?

    Jenks has a wife, Adele, and two kids. He credits his growth to her.

    The legend about her, by the way, is that he was in a drive-through hamburger joint in his truck and saw her in his rearview mirror checking him out. So he got out, introduced himself and told her he was a construction worker for some odd reason.

    Whatever the truth, Jenks is here now. The Sox are entirely counting on him, and they're not uncomfortable with that. Closer Dustin Hermanson's back hurts too much to be relied upon.

    Jenks missed most of last year with elbow trouble, and the Angels gave up on him. The Sox picked him up for $20,000.

    "I'm healthy again,'' he said. "I have the same stuff I had before I got hurt.''

    He said he is now learning the details of pitching.

    "Learning how to pitch, doing what the coaches say,'' he said. "A lot of going over mechanics in my mind.''

    Jenks earned saves Thursday, Friday and Saturday. He has six saves in eight tries. But he gave up three runs in one inning in a loss to the Minnesota Twins on Sept. 22.

    He still has marks from his past, including a huge demon tattoo on his leg. And it's hard to know what a past like that means to a rookie closer in the playoffs as the stages get bigger and bigger. It could weaken him. Or maybe there's strength in overcoming.

    We'll see. The Sox have won with these parts all season.[/b][/quote]

  • #2
    I love this guy for all the things I have heard about him. ESPN did a story on him a few years ago when he was still with the Angels.
    Sometimes elections have positive consequences!


    • #3
      I've always rooted for the kid. Very compelling. And damn, does he throw hard.


      • #4
        Brian Urlacher
        Position: LB
        Height: 6-4
        Weight: 258

        He certainly would "dwarf" David Eckstein, but Urlacher?

        Uh, okay.
        The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life. -TR


        Madyaks2 Thought Of The Day: I'm just as dumb as madyaks1.


        • #5
          I have only seen him on highlights til now. Can't wait to see him in some of these games.
          Sometimes elections have positive consequences!


          • #6
            We would have won in '81 had we a bobby jenks.
            Are you on the list?


            • #7
              The fast life

              Once his fastball and his life were out of his control. Now White Sox closer Bobby Jenks is taking his rebound to a Series audience.

              By JOHN ROMANO, Times Sports Columnist
              Published October 25, 2005

              HOUSTON - Just so you know, the radar gun is not to be trusted.

              When Bobby Jenks ambles in from the bullpen, when he stands like a mountain on top of a mound, when he leans back and whips a fastball toward the plate, every head swivels toward the radar gun as if it holds all the answers.

              Was it 100 mph? Or was it only 99? Only 99.

              Of course, it's not the numbers at fault. It's the interpretation. The gun is dandy at measuring speed, but not so good at judging impact. It doesn't tell you, for instance, that a 100 mph pitch is somewhere between a blink and a sneeze. Between a rip and a foul. Between confidence and fear.

              No, it doesn't tell you a 100 mph pitch ain't nothing but heartache.

              Sometimes, even for the guy throwing it.

              Don't get me wrong. That fastball made Jenks what he is today, and that's quite rich and semifamous. It also made him what he was yesterday, and that was often drunk and sometimes belligerent.

              That pitch travels so fast, it can seemingly pluck a high school dropout from an Idaho creek and drop him in the middle of the World Series.

              "I totally understand how far I've come," Jenks said Monday at Minute Maid Park. "I try not to give it too much thought. I don't want to get swept up in the moment."

              Perhaps you've caught the Jenks act this postseason. The one that begins with White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen extending his hands above his head and around his waist to let the bullpen know he wants the big guy.

              Darned funny stuff. Darned impressive, too. When the 6-3, 270-pound Jenks hits the mound, there is no going to the concession stand.

              He is the script too corny for Hollywood. A kid who grew up in a dilapidated cabin in northern Idaho near an Aryan compound. He was on his way to nowhere when a coach discovered him and set him on the path to fortune.

              Not exaggerated enough?

              Throw in injuries and demotions. A spurned agent and a national embarrassment. And maybe, if there's time, tell the story of how he met the love of his life at some local burger joint.

              "He's a great kid," said Mark Potoshnik, who took Jenks into his home and enrolled him in high school in Seattle five years ago. "He's not trying to be anybody but himself. He's a simple guy."

              Rewind the story for a moment. Go back to 1999, when Potoshnik was looking for players for his summer baseball team. An acquaintance told him about this kid in the sticks in Idaho. He'd gone unnoticed by scouts and colleges because he was academically ineligible and never finished high school. He spent most of his days fishing near his family's cabin in Spirit Lake.

              "You could tell he was a prospect," Potoshnik said. "You just had to put everything in place."

              Potoshnik warned Jenks that he wouldn't be eligible for the 2000 draft unless he returned to high school. When his old school wouldn't take him, Jenks moved in with Potoshnik's family and enrolled in a Seattle area school.

              Still academically ineligible, Potoshnik arranged for a series of workouts to attract scouts. The first drew eight to 10. A few weeks later, 40 showed up. Jenks was drafted by the Angels and given a $175,000 bonus.

              For a kid unaccustomed to money, supervision or responsibility, life in professional baseball was an adventure.

              He drank heavily. He got in an argument with a manager when he tried to bring beer on a bus. In a self-destructive and inebriated moment, he supposedly burned his hands with a cigarette lighter.

              A 2003 article in ESPN the Magazine portrayed Jenks as a backwoods freak. It suggested he had a learning disability. That his father was racist and irresponsible. That Jenks had a drinking problem and a temper.

              It also suggested he was the best prospect in the land.

              Today, Jenks, 24, will say little about those days or the ESPN article. He talks of how he has matured since getting married and having two children.

              "He grew up not knowing or having any responsibilities in life," Potoshnik said. "Suddenly, he had all of these people around him with expectations of how he should act. He didn't always deal with it well.

              "I don't think a few episodes with alcohol should follow him around the rest of his life. He was young. I think every frat boy in the country has spent a weekend or two on the bathroom floor."

              Having invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and five minor-league seasons in Jenks, the Angels finally gave up. After elbow surgery in 2004, Jenks was put on waivers in December.

              The White Sox claimed him for $20,000.

              Guillen had heard the rumors. He also had seen the fastball. After a couple of weeks in spring training, he pulled Jenks aside.

              "This kid had a great opportunity to make money in this game, but it was up to him," Guillen said. "I told him, you continue to do this stuff you're going to ruin your life."

              Converted from starter to reliever, Jenks blew batters away in Double A and made his big-league debut against Tampa Bay in July.

              By September, he had taken over as closer and Saturday became the first rookie in 10 years to earn a save in the World Series.

              The potential is there. The possibilities are endless. Jenks has an arm like few pitchers before him. He has a good curveball. He's learning to throw a cutter. But, of course, it is the fastball that sets the right-hander apart.

              Not many pitchers arrive at 100 mph.

              You just hope he doesn't depart at the same speed.
              But wait. There is something that can be done afterall. My good friend Angelo is a cop in the Tampa/Clearwater area. Since I kept all of the files from the access logs when I had the power to see them, guess what, I have everyone's IP addresses. Hmm..what can I do w/ those??