By Alan Grant
Special to Page 2

Bobby Jenks, All-Star berth and the rumors around him, sent me to the therapist office.

Doc: Got your message. Sounded important.

AG: It is, sort of. Had a mild revelation of sorts. Good things happen when you do your own thinking. I got to thinking about it when I heard Bobby Jenks made the All-Star team.

Doc: I've heard of that guy. Plays for the White Sox, right? Bit of a folk tale, isn't he? I've heard some things about him. He's like some kind of mountain man who grew up in some log cabin somewhere.

AG: Yeah, something like that. You know I met him about four years ago.

Doc: I didn't know that.

Bobby Jenks
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Jenks leads the AL at the All-Star break with 26 saves.

AG: Yeah, I'd heard some things myself. Heard he was a white supremacist, a skinhead. So I went to Spirit Lake, in northern Idaho, where he's from. It's close to this Aryan Nation up there in the mountains. You know, one of those militia-friendly environs. It's one of those places where the Ford pickup truck, with accompanying shotgun rack, long the measure of hillbilly largesse, is the vehicle of choice. Gotta tell you, in the 2 minutes and 15 seconds it took me to pass through Spirit Lake, five such trucks rolled by.

Doc: So what did you think of him?

AG: Actually, let me tell you the back story first. I met this agent, Matt Sosnick, a Jewish guy from San Francisco. He had heard some things about Jenks, too. He heard the kid was 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, and threw some serious heat, like 100 mph-type stuff. And if he signed him and represented him, Sosnick stood the chance to make some long dough. Sosnick sent the kid a Fed Ex package, but it came back marked "undeliverable." Seems the kid lived too far in the sticks to even get mail. So after that, Sosnick went to Idaho. Like I said, Sosnick had heard the rumors, too. He'd heard he was a skinhead, a drug addict, all kinds of stuff. But Sosnick does his own thinking. So for professional, and of course, personal reasons, Sosnick had to ask: "Are you a white supremacist?" Jenks replied with his own question: "If I was, would I hire a Jew to represent me?"

Doc: So I take it none of it was true.

AG: Well … Jenks did hire Sosnick and they were together on draft day when the Angels picked Jenks in the fifth round of the 2000 draft. I spoke to this guy named Jack Uhey, a pitching coach for the Angels who convinced the organization to draft him even though Jenks was about as raw as they came. Uhey told me, "You can read between the lines. Bobby needs guidance." Angels manager Mike Scioscia had his own thoughts too. "Bobby Jenks has the highest upside of any young pitcher I've ever seen," he said.

Doc: So why didn't he make it with the Angels?

AG: Well, there were signs the kid just wasn't getting it. He drank. A lot. While he was in Arkansas in Double-A, he brought beer onto the team bus and when scolded, told Travelers manager Doug Sisson to f--- off. And after a time, Sosnick says Jenks would refer to him as "D.J.," short for "Dirty Jew." Jenks fired Sosnick a while back and has since been through a bunch of agents.

Doc: What do you think about Jenks using such terms? Did he ever say anything like that to you?

AG: You mean did he call me the "N" word?

Doc: Well …

AG: Come on. Not even the biggest, most stupid, socially retarded moron is gonna drop the "N" word right off the get. But I base my opinion of Jenks on the day I hung out with Jenks and his wife, Adele, in Little Rock. He invited me to hang out with them and their then 4-month-old daughter, Cuma. When I got lost on the way to the apartment, he called me and politely gave me directions.

Doc: You think it was an act? I mean, do you think he was putting on a good show for the sake of publicity?

AG: He could have been, I suppose. But when I got there, he didn't set off the radar.

Doc: Radar?

AG: Yeah, I always know when I'm talking to a racist. There's a feeling I get at the base of my spine. It's when the white person you're talking to does his or her best to mask the translucent vapors of condescension swirling about their heads.

Doc: Well, there was no chance of that with this guy, was there? He's the quintessential dumb jock, isn't he? So how could he be condescending?

AG: That's true. But it also brings up a good point about racists, too.

Doc: No, we don't need to talk about that today. I really want to hear more about Bobby Jenks.

AG: No, it's important. See, even if Bobby Jenks was a dyed-in-the-wool, string 'em up by the neck lyncher, he wouldn't bother me at all. I mean, I wouldn't kick it with him or anything. But he wouldn't bother me.

Doc: But you absolutely abhor racism.

AG: Indeed. I hate educated people with power who are racists. But Bobby Jenks has no power.

Doc: OK, I got it. So what did you guys talk about?

AG: We talked about life, about his legend, about how he met his wife. First he set me straight about his pedigree. "No, I'm not a skinhead, and no, I'm not a member of the Aryan Nation." He told me he got Adele's attention by pulling up to her Honda Civic and blasting Charlie Daniels' "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" through the back window of his pickup truck.

Doc: Charming. Why are you telling me this?

AG: Because Jenks and the White Sox are a perfect fit. They're a bunch of people who, for better or worse, tune out the world and do their thing. Ozzie Guillen is clearly a great manager despite having that Andrew Dice Clay thing. At times you don't know whether or not to take him seriously, but you always know he doesn't care what you think.

Doc: You respect that, don't you?

AG: Yeah, I do. Same applies to Ken Williams, the Sox's general manager. Three years after becoming only the third black GM in baseball, he hires crazy Ozzie. Talk about being your own muse. Then last year, he picks up Jenks off waivers and Jenks is on the hill for the last out of the World Series. Now Jenks is an All-Star.

Doc: Yeah, but all of this could have gone another way. In fact, it still can.

AG: Oh yeah. Guillen could most certainly self-destruct, Williams could go down with him, and Jenks could drink himself out of the league.

Doc: And if that's the case?

AG: Gotta ask them. Sure they have their own thoughts.

Doc: OK, so bottom line: Where do you stand on Jenks?

AG: I don't know if he's smart enough to know that if we do get to know him we won't like him, or he just doesn't give a crap.

Alan Grant is a regular contributor to ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. He is a former NFL defensive back who played college football at Stanford.




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