Bobby Jenks Upstages Everyone - Sox Win 5-4 In Spite of Him

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As little as 20 minutes before the end of Wednesday's game, I could have sworn that the dominant storyline of the affair would umpire Joe West going on an egomaniacal rampage by ejecting Ozzie Guillen and Mark Buehrle, with a secondary storyline of Tony Pena's heroic 4 innings of relief that came in the wake of Mark's ejection. 

But no.  Noooooooooo.  Bobby just wouldn't have that.  A game that went by with the positive note of the White Sox overcoming adversity, even to defeat a team where using the word 'mediocre' is being kind, just didn't sit well with Mr. Jenks.  Because after the frivolous ejections were over and done with, there just wasn't enough drama in today's game, and Bobby loves drama, he lives for it.  So being Bobby, he graciously injected drama, even overcoming the fact that he entered the game in a non-save situation, to give us another nailbiter.  So now thanks to Bobby, Sox fans don't have to ponder mundane issues like avoiding Joe West for the rest of the season, or wondering if Tony Pena has established himself as a reliable reliever.  Instead they can arrive home, read a recap of the game that was played at 11 o'clock in the morning, and think "WHAT THE HELL ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT THAT CHUBBY DOOFUS JENKS!!!!!"

I've long been an opponent of random day games in the middle of the week on the basis of me having a job where staring at a live streaming video broadcast is viewed as unacceptable work behavior.  But sometimes pictures glanced at long after the game can tell you a great deal, and Bobby Jenks pointing at the final flyout from Russell Branyan with a smirk of satisfaction after he had allowed a 5-1 easy win to turn into a 5-4 game with the bases loaded, as if he had accomplished something notable ,told me all I needed to know about Bobby's performance.  He came in, completely screwed up an easy pitching situation, showed little to no emotional reaction to it, and walked off like nothing happened.  In his press conference, Bobby remarked that he didn't really understand what happened, that he felt he made good pitches, and would only want back "the 3-2 pitch to Shelley Duncan".  You know, the one that made it 5-4, with the tying run on 2nd...with no one out...after the first five batters.

Before we sharpen our knives, let's try to be even-handed.....

Bobby Jenks...may be sleepwalking.

I mean....he never really seems to know what's going on out there.  It takes a really intense situation for him to realize what he should be doing, and all of his responses post-game seem to indicate that he has no memory of what just occurred.  I mean he didn't think he threw many bad pitches at the close of this one, said he felt physically great when he blew a save versus Toronto,  and just the other day, 37,000 pound Ramon Castro tried to chest-bump him, and he totally did not see it coming.

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Does this man seem self-aware in this photo? Do either?

  So I propose we go easy on Bobby until he gets his sleep abnormality worked out.  You know people who are overweight have a greatly increased risk for sleep disorders.  Let's merely remove Jenks from the closer role for now in favor of J.J. Putz, and hold off on putting his head on a pike.

(Note: At the ChicagoNow Tweetup, a fellow blogger said that he figured Jenks might lose his closer role after he allowed six baserunners, three runs, and threw 17 balls in one inning, and I retorted "I'd rather he lose his trachea".  But hey!  It was only five hours after the game ended, I was still a little moody.)

Jenks' huge step back from two straight non-awful performances might have come as a disappointment to some, but just like a child abandoned by his father, I protected myself by refusing to trust again...in anything.  For the more recent stretches of the season, Ozzie has shown Bobby a much shorter leash when he's started to pitch like a dead turtle, which made it surprising that he left him in toda--oh wait no, Ozzie was ejected in the 2nd inning, bringing me to my next topic.

Earlier this season umpire Joe West called the slow pace of Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees games "pathetic and embarrassing".

Joe was absolutely right on about this, New Yor-Boston games take all darn day for seemingly no reason.  But the problem with him making this statement is that the games have been progressing in their length for the last decade at the least.  Worse yet, West oversaw the the most drawn-out Sox-Yankees affairs, serving as an umpire for the 2003 and 2004 ALCS between the two squads, during which time he did about as much to speed up the pace of the game as....well....as much as I did.

On Wednesday, West was similarly late in his action, as he tried to redefine the legality of Mark Buehrle's pickoff move 10 years into his career.  General consensus from the viewers of the game is that the first balk called on Buehrle's pickoff move was complete tripe, whereas the 2nd balk called was a toss-up.  After the first call, Buehrle was pretty adamant in his disagreement, going so far as to draw a line in the dirt indicating where he stepped, and sort of sarcastically throw to first to indicate how he was excuting his pickoff move.  In the eternal pissing contest that is player-umpire relations, this is certainly exemplary of showing up an umpire to the point of getting tossed, yet Buehrle remained.  Ozzie Guillen on the other hand, was tossed for coming out on the field to argue, which is a somewhat basic principle.  On the other hand, West had ejected Guillen before he had to chance to really talk to him.  So he didn't know if Ozzie was coming out to argue the call, slap his neck fat, or simply ask for some guidelines on if there were any other ways Joe West was going to try to redefine the way the game is played.  Buehrle's ejection at the hand of West in the following inning for tossing his glove clearly showed that West was in no way interested in having a consistent set of action in his treatment of players' behavior, but had simply gotten sick of Mark Buehrle disagreeing with him.

I don't care what happened, short of Buehrle attacking him physically, there's just no flippin' way the starting pitcher of a game should be ejected in the third inning, it's just far too impactful.  The Sox were put at a competitive disadvantage for the rest of the contest, and are even more screwed for their 4-game set with Tampa this weekend than they were before.  The fact that this situation resulted because Joe West had his feelings hurt is preposterous.  Any behavior standard that has the most impactful player of the game ejected for actions that endangered no one and didn't significantly disrupt the pace needs to be changed or disregarded in the way West disregarded ten years of precedent for what Buehrle was doing out there.  Utterly ridiculous.

But.

This did set the stage for Tony Pena to revive his season, with 4 innings of relief that sought to answer a lot of questions for the Sox.  After a few seasons of inconsistency, mired by control problems undercutting his excellent stuff (btw, saying a reliever has good stuff but struggles with control is kinda like saying someone is an aspiring actress but currently works as a waitress), one can't really say that Tony has figured things out completely after 4 scoreless innings where he walked only one, struck out three, and basically pounded the strike zone with abandon.  But still, if you were feeling unsure about replacing a certain abysmal closer with J.J. Putz, you can certainly think better of sliding Pena into Putz's role after he showed his mettle in an impossible situation today; one where his starting pitcher was ejected for utter nonsense, and he was called upon to pitch for twice as long as usual.  Think of it this way, what if we had Bobby Jenks pitch four innings in the middle of the game instead?

Side Notes:

I didn't really get to the offense today but it should be mention that they executed semi-effectively, with no bigger hit than the 2-out, 2-RBI single by Mark Teahen.  Mark Teahen: actually deserving of a major league roster spot.  Who knew?

Mark Kotsay hit what turned out to be a very necessary 2-run HR in the 6th inning.  With Carlos Quentin and Andruw Jones sliding further into overswinging oblivion, Kotsay could start playing very regularly for a while.  In the mean time, Quentin and Beckham both went 0-4.

Randy Williams appeared to have injured his foot.  This can only be a good thing.

This was the Sox' first road series win of the year, which is exactly the type of embarrassing fact you want to hear as you hit the road to face AL-best Tampa.  Thursday night Gavin Floyd (2-4, 6.31 ERA) faces off against Jeff Niemann (4-0, 2.54) ERA.  It seems like a horrible mismatch on paper, and I've never been one to say a bad thing about paper.  

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