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In Sports

Rather than boos, Jenkins deserves a tip of the cap on his way out


Geoff Jenkins had places to go Friday night, but he wasn't in a hurry.

With all the uncertainty in the air surrounding his future with the Milwaukee Brewers, he hung around long enough to make sure just about everybody who came up to see him at a live post-game radio show could get their stuff signed before he was whisked away.

Today very well could be the last time fans get to see Jenkins in a Milwaukee uniform. While many will say good riddance on the grounds of a nightmarish 2006 campaign, a cascade of boos (which have often greeted the rightfielder this season) would be inappropriate.

Jenkins doesn't hide from the fact that he has played miserably at times this year. He has never backed down from the stark reality that he has been a streaky hitter -- with a penchant for freak injuries -- his entire career.

There have been times like this year, where it seems like his bats are sinking off the coast of Lake Michigan, but there have also been plenty of times like the end of the 2005 campaign, where Jenkins was seeing softballs being lobbed over the plate.

As angry as you may be at him today, take into consideration that Jenkins has somehow managed to stay with the team that drafted him his entire career. Fans here are quick to point out a franchise history of developing big-league ballplayers, only to let them reach free agency and run off to the first team with a bag of cash.

Jenkins got good with the Brewers and he stuck around. There were others interested when the team offered and he accepted a $23 million contract extension prior to the 2004 season. After playing on some dismal teams the first six years in Milwaukee, Jenkins could see a light at the end of the tunnel.

"I want to be a part of the good years that I see ahead for this team," Jenkins told reporters at the time. "This is my greatest day as a Brewer. This is the organization I grew up in. I have a lot of fun here. Now, I get to be here four more years, and that's exciting."

There were some good times, and there were plenty of bad. The losing has continued, and the streaky play has, too. Some fans still are mad that manager Ned Yost waited as long as he did before finally pulling Jenkins out of the starting lineup. The move didn't last long, as injuries and lack of offense put the former USC Trojan back in his familiar spot.

Jenkins should be applauded today because he didn't throw a fit about it. He responded like most of us would after being publicly shamed by our boss; deserved or not. Instead of throwing a tantrum or demanding a trade like any number of highly-paid, underachieving veterans might do, Jenkins kept his mouth shut about the affair and eventually did the talking with his bat during a torrid September.

This isn't about making excuses for Jenkins. Not in the least. But for a franchise that has had little, if anything to cheer about in the last 24 years, it's worth giving credit where credit is due.

There is no argument that the Brewers cannot afford to pay $8 million to a veteran power hitter that hits under a dozen home runs before Labor Day, especially with an influx of young outfield talent waiting in the wings.

What's done is done, and there is no changing the past. Fans have every right to be upset with Jenkins' lack of production this season. Chances are, he's madder than anybody and doesn't blame you for it.

But when he strolls up to the plate for what could be the last time, catcalls, heckling, and other jeers would be inappropriate. Save that treatment for the Anthony Masons, Gary Sheffields, Gary Paytons and Javon Walkers of the world.


Talkbacks

OMCreader | Sept. 25, 2006 at 12:50 p.m. (report)

BrewersFan said: TosaJim, Jenkins will be an all star after he leaves? Are you serious? He wasn't an all star on a team without an all star that needed a representative throughout the 90's when he was in his prime. How is he going to be an all star when he had to go on a hot streak to get his average above .260 for the year. Jenkins should not be boo'd, he should be appreciated for his time here, for being a hard worker, and being a "nice guy" but production wins games and the Brewers need better out of a corner outfielder. Especially one that is paid $8 million per year.

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OMCreader | Sept. 24, 2006 at 11:10 p.m. (report)

Robert said: I still think Jenkins makes a decent platoon player. I hope the Brewers keep him unless they get an offer they can't refuse. If he does get traded, I will wish him the best. He was a class act.

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OMCreader | Sept. 24, 2006 at 5:50 p.m. (report)

matt said: a blue collar player that fits well in milwaukee. in an age of free agency where people head for the hills and cry like over paid kids, jenks played hard and deserves the applaud he got today. way to finish up strong at home, 'Crew. now we just need to win on the road next year

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OMCreader | Sept. 24, 2006 at 11:01 a.m. (report)

Paul said: I couldn't have said it better myself.

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OMCreader | Sept. 24, 2006 at 10:56 a.m. (report)

TosaJim said: I agree. As much as I hate to see guys get paid way too much money to play ball, I feel if the team is willing to pay...so be it. Jenkins played hard and always hustled...too bad he wasn't a consistent ball player. We will miss him. He'll leave Milwaukee and become an all-star...mark my word....

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