As excerpted in this week’s Sports Illustrated, former Los Angeles California Angels Of Anaheim California farmhand Matt McCarthy’s book “Odd Man Out” benefits from the acuity of its Yale-educated author in at least equal measure to the work of its unattributed editor. Of most interest in the teaser is McCarthy’s take on a younger, brasher, more contemptuous Bobby Jenks, then still seasons away from being picked up on waivers for $20,000 and going on to throw the final out for the White Sox in Chicago’s first World Series championship in 87 years.
The heavy closer’s heavy reputation for boozing and bridling under managerial authorty had built early in his days at Mesa – but when it came to sauce, it appears Bobby’s taste didn’t run to juice. At the height of the steroid era, Angels fastballer Derrick Turnbow, who a year and a half later would become the first MLB player publicly identified as having tested positive for the banned steroid 19-norandrosterone, overheard Jenks grousing to McCarthy in 2001:
œWhat are you reading about? I asked.
œMe, he said flatly. œEverybody™s got something to f”“g say about Bobby Jenks. One day I™m an alcoholic; the next day I™m the second coming of Christ. I laughed awkwardly, trying to think of how I would describe him. œI™m a damn bargain is what I am, he continued as he rolled onto his stomach. œHundred-and-seventy-five-thousand dollars for a guy with my s“t?
œAnd what do they do? They send me to this hellhole with guys who don™t belong in pro ball. It wasn™t a stretch to imagine he was talking about guys like me.
œHow many guys can throw a hundred miles an hour? he asked me as he tossed the magazine on the floor.
œProbably a dozen, I offered.
œHow many guys on this planet can throw a ball a hundred miles an hour? he said in a much louder voice as he sat up.
œI can think of one, said a large man with shoulder-length brown hair as he sauntered into the room and calmly submerged himself in a vat of ice. It was Angels reliever Derrick Turnbow, in Mesa on a rehab assignment. A year earlier he had suffered a displaced fracture of the ulna while throwing one of his 100-mph fastballs.
œNow, I can™t say that I™ve ever seen you hit triple digits, Bobby said playfully.
œGo to hell, Jenks, Turnbow said¦Talk to me when you™ve pitched a game in the big leagues.
For the next 15 minutes, we sat in silence, until Turnbow finished his ice bath and left the room. “They always said [Turnbow] was an a——,” Bobby muttered. “Did you see his arms? He’s so roided out, it’s ridiculous.”
“I’ve seen all those supplements in his locker,” I said.
“That’s just for show,” Bobby said. “He’s juicing.”