John Rocker: Published author?
Rocker, the Braves’ former pitcher and ticking time bomb, has been referenced frequently in the past couple of weeks. He was an historical reference point for observers after Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell’s verbal altercation with fans in San Francisco, which allegedly included homophobic slurs.
Rocker, who still lives in Atlanta, apparently is self-publishing a memoir. Title: “Scars and Strikes.” It’s due out in June. The current issue of Atlanta Magazine has a profile on Rocker in its May issue. The story, written by Charles Bethea, doesn’t really break new ground, but it has a few amusing comments. Included:
♦ Rocker says the book will be a mixture of baseball and politics, with some of his “philosophy and feelings.” He adds that it will be “how the conversation would have gone had that writer gotten it right.” The reference was to the Sports Illustrated story in 2000, in which he bashed, among other things, homosexuals and “foreigners” (specifying, “Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people.” His punchline in SI: “How the hell did they get in this country?”
♦ Rocker says he rarely speaks with reporters (or they with him) and adds, “I’ve sworn off doing print interviews.” In Rocker’s world, I guess this means a magazine doesn’t qualify as print. Bethea was allowed to read the first chapter of Rocker’s book. His mini-review: “The only disparaging word in its thirteen pages, which earnestly chronicle the day leading up to his World Series debut in New York City against the Yankees, is reserved for the pregame clubhouse reporters. Rocker uses a widely accepted, species-specific slur for them: ‘piranhas.’ Again, progress.” (For the record, I prefer, “vultures.”)
♦ Rocker has backed off his controversial “Speak English” campaign. The link on his website for “Speak English” T-shirts is no longer active. He tells the magazine that the campaign was “misunderstood.” Of course. Quoting here: “People have tried to tie it into the racist overtones that Sports Illustrated created, that Speak English is biased, bigoted. Coming to America, if you want to truly realize why you came here—for a better life, better opportunity for your family— the only way to do that is to speak English.” (Editorial response: The kernel of truth to that last sentence is obliterated by the messenger and his resume. Also, putting “Speak English” on T-shirts falls short in the finesse department.)
♦ He remains close friends with former Braves teammate Otis Nixon, an African American, who battled cocaine addiction during his career. Nixon calls Rocker, “Like a brother or a son. He came to the majors looking like he thought he owned half the locker room; he did and said things I didn’t agree with, but he’s grown. I told him the other day that I’m proud of him. He’s finally getting past that article.”
Others may never get past it. Not sure I’ll buy the book but it should be interesting if he has a book signing in Atlanta. Or in New York.
By Jeff Schultz