Bobby Jenks Was Right To Send a Message, Wrong To Make His Intent Public

Bo ReedCorrespondent IMay 12, 2009

CHICAGO - APRIL 29:  Bobby Jenks #45 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the game on April 29, 2009 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Now that the Manny shock-waves have settled down, the latest buzz around Major League Baseball surrounds the closer for the White Sox.

Bobby Jenks has freely admitted to throwing behind Ian Kinsler of the Texas Rangers, causing a surprisingly sharp debate on how Bud Selig and Co. should punish the closer.

Having watched the majority of the season series between the Sox and Rangers, I was not surprised at all by Jenks' message to the Rangers pitchers. After all, the Rangers pitchers had made it a point to pitch inside—and had hit a few Sox batters in the process.

As a fan of baseball my entire life, I am well aware of the game's unwritten rules, and I firmly believe Jenks was following them. However, the error he made came in the Sox clubhouse after the game.

"No, I meant to. To send a message," Jenks said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "Basically I was saying, 'I'm sick of seeing our guys get hit and hurt and almost get taken out of the game.' I threw it with intention."

Fair enough, but why in the world would you broadcast your intention? The Rangers knew what was going on and had considered the issue over and done with. Why keep the bad blood boiling when your message was obviously received?

Did Jenks think the Rangers wouldn't catch on to what he was saying with that pitch?

According to the Dallas Morning News, Rangers manager Ron Washington was asked if he felt Jenks intended to throw behind Kinsler.

His response: "What do you think?" 

Everyone in the ballpark knew what Jenks was doing, and he was within his rights according to the unwritten rules of baseball. In fact, he's obligated to protect his hitters. So, again, there are no issues with the message pitch itself.

The victory lap he took in the clubhouse is why he should be punished. Not a suspension or anything drastic—a simple fine will do. By fining Jenks, Major League Baseball acknowledges the unwritten rules of the game, but draws a line on going public about it.

Jenks did the right thing on the mound, but he should have left it on the field.

A fine is the appropriate punishment in this case. Sadly, Bud Selig and Co. are not known for handing out appropriate punishments, so a suspension is likely for Jenks. It wouldn't be right, but Selig can always be counted on to overreact to everything—except steroids.

 

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