John Rocker Now Throws Political Hardballs

Michael Thompson, WND, May 29, 2012

Though it’s been nine years since he threw his last pitch in Major League Baseball, former Atlanta Braves reliever John Rocker is still known for a single incident that happened back in 1999.

{snip} Rocker’s life was radically altered after an interview with notorious sports journalist Jeff Pearlman from Sports Illustrated.

The politically incorrect statements Rocker said in the interview resulted in a media firestorm. Rocker was suspended by Commissioner Bud Selig, given the highest fine ever in Major League Baseball history, and assigned to mandatory “sensitivity” training.

The worst aspect of this public hanging by the respectable media was his tarnished reputation. Rocker referred to the entire affair as equivalent to “dying” in his new book Rocker: Scars and Strikes.

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In an exclusive interview with WND, Rocker opened up about life after baseball, the current state of the game, as well as his second passion: politics. {snip}

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Rocker retired from baseball in 2005 and has moved on to a successful career in real estate in the Atlanta metro area. {snip}

In “Rocker: Scars and Strikes,” referring to that famous/infamous interview he writes, “I died on a Sunday evening. Now of course I didn’t die in the literal sense that day, but I might as well have. Technically, I’m still breathing and the soulless shell that is my body continues to walk around upright appearing to be intact. Make no mistake about it, however, everything inside of me that day, everything I worked a lifetime to become, who I was at the core of my being, which took more than a decade to create, was laid to waste in one fell blow all for the sake of selling a few @#%&ing magazines.”

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Pearlman wrote in Sports Illustrated, “John Rocker has opinions, and there’s no way to sugarcoat them. They are politically incorrect, to say the least, and he likes to express them.”

On ever playing for a New York team: “I would retire first. It’s the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the [Number] 7 train to the ballpark, looking like you’re [riding through] Beirut next to some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It’s depressing.”

Rocker’s teammates and friends in Major League Baseball rushed to defend him from the media firestorm that ensued from the portrait created in Pearlman’s interview. Unfortunately, the damage was done.

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Rocker commented, “I said some things about New York City which in the context they were presented led many people to automatically interpret as racist, xenophobic, or bigoted. And to this day, that’s what I’m most remembered for. Not what I accomplished on the field, but what I said in an interview with Sports Illustrated.

“Pearlman spent nearly 10 hours with me that day and we engaged in numerous very long-winded conversations on everything from how to throw a breaking ball to the effects of a flawed U.S. immigration policy. Strategically extracting a sentence fragment here and separate thought there Pearlman painted the exact picture of me he intended from the very beginning and in doing so remained true to form and consistent with his long and decorated history of trash journalism. In my research I have found that Pearlman has done eerily similar hatchet jobs to dozens of other subjects during his 20 year career,” said Rocker.

“Immediately after the comments were printed the media began in earnest to uncover other ‘smoking guns’ of racial intolerance and bigotry from my past. Oh what a glorious story that would have made! To have an ex-black teammate or a person from my high school years come forward and support the image that Pearlman had created would have be gold! For months everyone from the New York Times to Current Affair interviewed high school teachers, high school friends, ex-teammates, and current ones only to have Pearlman’s image refuted at every opportunity. So without any gasoline to pour on their fire storm the media finally gave up and left their contradictory findings largely unreported.”

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Rocker admits that some may still find offense with his thoughts and opinions, but feels he has as much of a right to voice his opinion as others have to do be offended by it. And, if it so happens that one finds offense with Rocker’s thoughts and commentaries in Scars and Strikes it doesn’t appear that any contrite apologies will be forthcoming.

“I think people in America on both sides of the political spectrum are growing weary of political correctness,” he says. “I think people are tired of wearing the ‘speech muzzle’ all the time never knowing what comment may offend what person or group. It’s exhausting. Instead of everyone bending over backwards attempting to accept everything about everyone we all just need to accept one clear simple fact. We are all not always going to accept every difference that people have one from another. That is the only thing which should be universally accepted and understood.”

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Rocker still wants immigrants—legal immigrants—to succeed in America, but he wants them to speak English in the process: “I don’t care if you speak two, five or even 10 languages; if you plan on living, raising a family and prospering in this country one of those languages should be English. There is no white collar job one can have in America where knowing the English language will not be required. I can’t speak for everyone, but I doubt the ideal scenario for the young immigrant involves digging ditches or changing dirty hotel sheets for the next 50 years. America has much more to offer than that.”

Rocker goes on to state, “As typical with most media, a general effort has been made by many journalists to frame my ‘Speak English Campaign’ in the vein of racism. And why wouldn’t they? Stirring the propaganda pot is what most of them do best instead of taking an opportunity to engage in authentic debate for purposes of gaining an understanding. Most media have chosen to apply a simplistic definition that creates the greatest level of sensationalism. This campaign is about much more than simply speaking English. In one part it is an effort to encourage Americans to support one of the most basic aspects of our unique heritage which is the language we speak. In a second part, but equally as important, it seeks to encourage the new American immigrant who wishes to take advantage of all that this great country has to offer to assimilate to the culture and heritage of the new land they find themselves at the most elementary level, the language they speak.”

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Here’s Rocker speaking his mind on some other issues:

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What about Arizona law SB1070: “God bless Jan Brewer! If I could personally meet any public figure in our country today on any level, Jan Brewer would be at the top of that list. That woman was elected by the people of Arizona to do one thing and one thing only, whatever is best for the citizens of her state as their representative. Jan Brewer is not a racist. Her House and Senate that passed SB1070 are not racists, and to flippantly assume that the hard-working men and women of Arizona law enforcement would behave like bigots in the enforcement of this bill is paramount to a slap in their face. I’m quite sure that many of them would take strong exception to such an allegation. Life in our country’s border states can be much different than in the rest of the country. {snip}”

On Trayvon Martin: “To say that after all of the glorious efforts that have been made over many, many years that America still has a tremendous amount of racial tension would be a gross understatement. Evidently we have been making the wrong efforts in the wrong directions. In many places, you can almost feel the tension simmering slightly below the surface. It’s saddening and almost frustrating to see the polarizing effects a situation like that with Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman can have on this country. When and how will we ever unite across all ethnic and racial barriers? After following this story over the past month it sickens me to witness the exploitation, propaganda and opportunistic advantage that many people have shamelessly taken on the back of this situation.

Trayvon Martin was a life. He was a bright-eyed young man with his whole future ahead of him. In my opinion and I’m certainly not afraid to voice it; Trayvon Martin is being treated like a pawn for the promotion of a social agenda—at least for right now. Next year there will be a new face, but for now this special young man’s life is being exploited for the furtherance of some ‘victimology’ and oppression campaign. Those exploiting him don’t care about his life. To them he is not a life; he is simply a name and a face to be placed on a poster at a rally for the cause. They don’t care that Trayvon Martin will never get to grow old nor watch his children do the same. They don’t care that he won’t be at prom this year or on spring break with his buddies. They don’t care that he’ll never meet his wife or his son. All they care about is a dark face to put with a tragedy that will give them their soapbox to stand on while they look into a TV camera and further divide this country with sensationalized rhetoric.

And when I say ‘they,’ everyone knows who ‘they’ is. ‘They’ are the ones who called for heads when six kids at Duke University were accused of rape by a drugged-out black stripper. ‘They’ tried that case in the court of public opinion and feverishly stoked the flames of racial tension with their misguided, flippant accusations. How did that situation turn out, by the way? ‘They’ did the same thing a few years earlier with Tawana Brawley and have stood on that soapbox many, many times in between promoting their agenda and dividing America, all the while exploiting the victim no matter what he or she has faced or how real or false their claims may be. ‘They’ don’t care about Trayvon Martin and the loss of his one chance at life.

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