White Sox

Sox Drawer: In Jenks you trust?

169136.jpg

Sox Drawer: In Jenks you trust?

Friday, July 23, 2010
4:25 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

You swim in confidence, you drown in negativity.

Those were the deep thoughts coming from Don Cooper back on June 2 as he strolled through the White Sox dugout amid a torrential downpour of criticism that had the Sox sinking in the AL Central standings.

Lifeboats were standing by, not to mention a casket, a coroner, and the cast from the TV show Six Feet Under.

Ive seen it so many times. Confidence is the ingredient, Cooper said. Everyone has tough times. Tough moments.

And while the White Sox have magically changed the trajectory of their season since those dark, spring days, the team's pitching coach doesnt have to look far down his roster of arms to see a pitcher currently submerged in that same negativity, flooded by criticism that he can no longer be trusted to do his job.

Bobby Jenks.

In the hypersensitive world of modern day sports, one bad game is considered terrible, a second is downright appalling, while a third equates to the death of the players first born.

Maybe thats an overstatement, but often the reality is that when youre a struggling athlete not meeting a citys expectations, the heat you feel isnt the sun on your face, but a burning fireball of disgust and distrust by a countless stream of fans who have invested their hearts and souls into the uniform youre wearing, and if you continue to let them down, those same fans will no longer see flesh inside that uniform, but a skeleton.

Youre officially dead to them.

Thats sports. And right now there are many of you holding onto your shovels, ready to bury Bobby.

My advice would be to chill out! But I know better.

Its easy to roast your closer after he gives up four runs in the 9th inning in a heartbreaking loss to the Twins, especially when he follows it up by losing another game three days later with two runs in the 11th against the Mariners.

Its easy to condemn him because his name is not Mariano Rivera, and hell occasionally blow a save or two in a week, bringing your world to a crashing halt. Its painful. I know. Imagine having to talk about it live on television moments after it happens without using a single word of profanity.

Been there.

Its tougher to recall and appreciate what your closer did before the mess, converting 15 straight saves during the Sox torrid hot streak. Remember how downright filthy Bobby was for those few weeks?

Okay, maybe you dont.

Look, Im no dummy. Neither is Ozzie Guillen. Jenks is struggling.

Something has to be done right now, which is why the Sox will turn to Matt Thornton, J.J. Putz, or even Sergio Santos in closing situations in the near future.

But what happens if or when one of those saviors takes the mound and blows a save or two. Then what? Bring back Shingo Takatsu?

I agree with Ozzie that the Sox are a better team with Jenks as their closer, and with the set-up guys lined up in front of him. But right now, they cant go there. The boat has a hole in it.

Speaking by phone on Friday before the White Sox took on the As in Oakland, Cooper did not dance around Jenks problems. He went right at it, with a fastball down the middle.

The bottom line is this, Bobby has struggled his last two outings, Cooper said. The nature of being a closer is youre on the line, and when you dont save the game, youre kind of the goat. What were going to do is simply keep our options open with the other guys that are throwing the ball well. Wed be nuts not to keep our options open. In the meantime, well try to get Bobby throwing like he did during that streak again, and I think its going to happen.

After Wednesdays extra-inning loss in Seattle, Guillen expressed concern over Jenks fading velocity. But as the pitching coach, Cooper has a much different take.

I dont look at (velocity) to tell you the truth. When Im watching the game, I dont look up at the board and say, Oh, thats 93 (miles per hour), thats 97. I just look at, Does he have enough out there in his hand that day? You take the ball 70 times during a season, there are going to be times when you have your A stuff. There are going to be times when youll have your B stuff. You might even have your C stuff. You still got enough to get it done. The bottom line is, (Jenks) hasnt gotten it done. But theres enough coming out of his hand to get major league hitters out.

So for the moment, Cooper continues to swim in confidence, while watching Jenks as he dog paddles in negativity. The water in Lake Michigan can be murky. The same with our local media.

When you fail, unfortunately the best story in Chicago is not a guy whos soaring, its what kind of crash hes going to make when things are not going well.

Jenks has fallen. Hell eventually get up. The question is, do you have his back, or an arrow pointed directly at it?

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Two days after bat flip, MLB gives Tim Anderson one-game suspension, reportedly for using a 'racially charged word'

Two days after bat flip, MLB gives Tim Anderson one-game suspension, reportedly for using a 'racially charged word'

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson received a one-game suspension from Major League Baseball on Friday for what the league described only as "his conduct after the benches cleared" during Wednesday's game against the Kansas City Royals.

But a more specific reason for his suspension might have been revealed in a report from ESPN's Jeff Passan, who said that MLB found during its investigation into the incident that Anderson used "a racially charged word."

Anderson's verbal behavior was the only reason he could have received a suspension, as the bat flip that sparked the retaliation by the Royals was certainly not against the rules and he was not involved in any physical altercation with any member of the Royals while being held far away from the fracas by Jose Abreu and Joe McEwing. It seems that whatever he said on the field might have been the same reason Anderson received an ejection from the game, something he and manager Rick Renteria expressed confusion over after the game.

Renteria also received a one-game suspension from the league Friday. He and other members of the coaching staffs were the featured players in the on-field get together. Renteria had face-to-face run-ins with Royals coach Dale Sveum and Royals manager Ned Yost, who took displeasure with Renteria telling his team to get off the field. Renteria, Sveum, Anderson and Royals pitcher Brad Keller, who hit Anderson with the pitch, were all ejected Wednesday.

The entire brouhaha was sparked by Anderson's celebration of his home run earlier in the game, a monster shot that he "pimped" by launching his bat toward the White Sox dugout and yelling at his teammates in an effort to energize them. The Royals didn't see it that way, and Keller — who received a five-game suspension Friday — fired a pitch at Anderson's behind during his next at-bat. Anderson and the Royals exchanged plenty of words as he circuitously made his way toward first base, and the benches promptly cleared.

The incident has once again brought the never-ending argument over the old-school and new-school approaches to on-field celebrations and the game's "unwritten rules" to the fore. Major League Baseball's social-media accounts have continued the use of their marketing slogan "let the kids play" in apparent celebration of Anderson's bat flip, if not an all-out defense, a curious approach now that the league has handed down a suspension. Of course, no one is suggesting that the same folks sending out tweets are the ones making disciplinary decisions, and it seems Anderson's suspension stemmed from what he said after he was hit by the pitch rather than the bat flip that sparked the whole chain of events.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

Remember That Guy: Rob Mackowiak

rob_mackowiak.jpg
AP

Remember That Guy: Rob Mackowiak

Not too many players from the Chicagoland area make it to the Majors. Oak Lawn’s Rob Mackowiak did. And he even made his way to the South Side to play for the White Sox.  

After attending South Suburban College in South Holland, he was a 53rd round pick of the Pirates in 1996. That’s something that could never exist today. The MLB Draft capped at 50 rounds in 1998, then lowered again to 40 rounds for 2012.

Mackowiak, primarily an outfielder but also occasionally seeing infield duty, worked his way through the minors from 1996-2001. He suited up for the Lynchburg (VA) Hillcats, the Augusta (GA) GreenJackets, the Altoona (PA) Curve and the Nashville Sounds before debuting for Pittsburgh May 19, 2001 at PNC Park against the Brewers. His first career at-bat a strikeout against Ben Sheets. He collected his first career hit a few days later at Veterans Stadium off the Phillies’ Robert Person. His first home run came May 30th in Pittsburgh off the Marlins’ Braden Looper.

He hit .266 in 83 games in 2001, then hit 16 home runs in his first full season the following year. 2003 started out rough, hitting .183/.280/.256 through 44 games before he was able to find his groove at Triple-A Nashville. When he returned to the Pirates on August 20, he went 4 for 5 with 2 home runs. From that point on, he hit a scorching .348/.400/.609 in 100 plate appearances to finish the season.

He had as good a day as you could possibly imagine on May 28, 2004. Early that morning, his son Garrett was born. Then with the hospital band still on his wrist, he headed to the ballpark for a doubleheader against the Cubs. In Game 1, he hit a walkoff grand slam off Chicago closer Joe Borowski. In Game 2 he came off the bench in the 7th inning and hit a game-tying 2-run home run in the 9th off LaTroy Hawkins. If that wasn’t enough, he came back to terrorize the Cubs once again the next day going 2 for 4 with a home run and 5 RBI. A three-game total of 4 for 10 with a double, 3 home runs and 11 RBI (with a walk). He was named co-NL Player of the Week from May 24-30, sharing the honor with teammate Daryle Ward. He finished the year hitting .246/.319/.420 but racked up career highs in home runs (17) and RBI (75). In 2005, his final season in western Pennsylvania, he rebounded with a .272 average and .337 OBP but took a step back in the power numbers (9 HR, 58 RBI).

In 2006 he joined the White Sox in a deal sending Damaso Marte to the Steel City and hit .290/.365/.404 – career highs in BA and OBP. His first home run in a White Sox uniform was a memorable one. On May 22, 2006 the Oakland Athletics visited US Cellular Field. It was the first time Frank Thomas played a game against his formal team, and the Big Hurt delivered with a pair of home runs. Oakland was poised to win the game with a 4-1 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth inning. After Jermaine Dye homered to cut the deficit to 4-2, Juan Uribe doubled which caused manager Ken Macha to summon his closer Huston Street. Ozzie Guillen countered by taking down Brian Anderson and sending up Mackowiak, who delivered a pinch hit 2-run homer to knot the game at four. Pablo Ozuna won the game for the Sox in the 10th with a walkoff bunt scoring A.J. Pierzynski from third.

What was a solid hometown run ended at the 2007 trade deadline when the Sox sent Mackowiak to San Diego for reliever Jon Link. He finished the season with the Padres and played 38 games with the Nationals in 2008 before being released in June. He tried to catch on with minor league stints with the Reds, Mets & Indians in 2008-09 but he never made it back to the show.  He did hit .323/.418/.545 with 14 HR in 82 games with the independent Newark Bears to finish 2009.

Rob Mackowiak’s 8-year MLB career featured a respectable .259/.332/.405 slashline with 64 home runs and 286 RBI in 856 games. In 197 games with the White Sox, he hit .285/.360/.411 with 11 HR and 59 RBI. After his baseball career Mackowiak briefly worked as the hitting coach for the Windy City Thunderbolts (Frontier League). Later, he coached his son’s little league teams and worked as an instructor at Elite Baseball Training in Chicago.

A 53rd round pick. An unforgettable introduction to fatherhood. A Chicago Major League homecoming. Rob Mackowiak’s story is a special one.