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John Rocker on New Book, the Mets, Bud Selig, Steroids, and Politics



By Mike Silva ~ December 12th, 2011. Filed under: Outside the Apple.

Former Braves pitcher John Rocker joined me on last night’s radio program to discuss his new book “Scars and Strikes.”

It’s been over a decade since his infamous Sports Illustrated interview  with Jeff Pearlman that published on December 27th, 1999. If Mets fans are expecting the same brash and cocky individual they remember from the 1999 NLCS, think again. Rocker was extremely open, honest, and erudite during a 35-minute interview on the program. Here are some highlights.

- The book is not just a response to the Pearlman article. “There is a lot of baseball in there, a lot of baseball memoir, a lot of great stories about my time in the big leagues. Discussing individuals such Jim ThomeWalt WeissEllis Burks, and the tremendous guys I played with in the game.”

- He’s been working for years to dispel the perceptions created by the December 1999 SI article through television and radio interviews.  ”I never thought I got the fair shake and the fair justice of that perception. The old cliché says ‘don’t ever pick a fight with a guy that buys ink by the truckload.’ I actually got a quote in the book that says I decided to buy my own truck.”

- The off-the-field controversy had nothing to do with his exit from the game. “I was on the DL one time and I never came off.” When visiting Dr. James Andrews he was told that two rotator cuff muscles were 85% torn, labrum muscle was torn away from the bone, bone spurs, had to get his shoulder capsule shrunk, and he had a chunk of scar tissue the size of a ping pong ball taken off his bicep.

- He wishes that “37-year old John Rocker could go back and punch 23-year old John Rocker in his face.” He called himself a “young, hot-headed, idiot kid.”

- Talked about how a tough opponent the Mets were in ’99 despite “beating them handily during the regular season.” He admitted they were a “bit worried” about the NLCS going to a potential Game 7 since the Mets “never really would go away.”

- When I brought up the “I hate New York and the Mets” quotes from back then, he said some of that stuff was “for the camera.” Every big league player has a tremendous amount of respect for another big league player. To this day he has a ton of respect for the Mets and the guys that played on that team.

- He believes Pearlman’s book on the Mets “was unflattering and unfair” and the SI article about him “painted a wrong picture.” He also believes Pearlman painted the 90s Cowboys and Walter Payton in a bad picture. He points out how David Wells had an issue with Pearlman in an SI article that focused on Wells looks and hygiene, instead of the fact he was starting the All Star Game and leading the American League in numerous pitching categories. Rocker has spoken to Wells who still has a “thorn in his side about that article.”

- Admitted the veterans like Glavine, Maddux, and Smoltz didn’t like the atmosphere that was created by the article. However, many current and ex-teammates such as Ellis Burks, Javy LopezBrian JordanAndrew Jones, and Eddie Perez  supported him and didn’t understand “where the article came from.” He believes the media chose to ignore much of the support he had in the clubhouse.

-  Media reports are inaccurate that stated he takes former Braves GM John Schuerholz to task. He had issues with him during his arbitration case, but understood that was part of his job.

- He takes Bud Selig to task. He believes if a more astute leader were the commissioner during the last two decades, he has no doubt MLB would not have the glaring black eye it has over steroids. He believes Selig allowed the story to go through third party mediums, Congress, and the Mitchell Report.

- He had some interesting things to say about Selig and the aftermath of the SI article. “When the SI story came out, the commissioner’s office and Selig were extremely upset with me,” Rocker said. “They asked me on four different occasions during the two week period to take a steroid test. The first three times I refused. The fourth time my agent literally pleaded with me saying please, the commissioner’s office is extremely upset with you; you need to take this test. You take the test, possibly pacify them, they go a little bit easier on you when they render their reprimand.”

- He finally took the steroid test and admitted to failing it, but the league denies knowing the results. “I finally succumb; ok I’ll take the test. Of course, I failed it miserably. And you mean to tell me the commissioner’s office who insisted over two weeks over four different occasions that I take a steroid test, they don’t know the result of said test?”

- I was surprised by his admission to taking steroids, so I asked him again if he was taking some sort of PED in 1999. “Yeah, of course I was. I mean who wasn’t? Let’s be honest here, who wasn’t?”

- As I mentioned, Selig has denied knowing the results of that test. Rocker believes he did and it should have resulted in a more in a more in-depth investigation of the issue. Obviously, Selig didn’t, and we know the fallout starting in 2004.

- I asked Rocker if he became a good pitcher because of PED use. “No. Can I throw 3 or 4 mph harder because of it? Yes. Was my breaking ball better because of it? No. The reason was (for taking it) with my teammates and their confidence laying on my shoulders, with the coaching staff and their confidence on my shoulders, with the millions of Atlanta Braves fans, I am not going to step on that mound with that kind of responsibility with my gun half loaded. Knowing the people I am going to be facing, I know what they’re doing; I am not coming to the mound halfcocked.”

- He doesn’t believe that Alex RodriguezRoger Clemens, or Mark McGwire will ever be elected into the Hall of Fame.

- For the political junkies in the audience, I asked Rocker who he is supporting for the GOP. “I have always loved Newt Gingrich. He is an absolute genius; just a marksman in historical value of pretty much anything you want to discuss. He’s got obviously the intelligence, he’s got the experience. I don’t necessarily like he’s the lifetime politician type. I would just as soon see us go back to a Herman Cain, someone who’s been in the citizen form, if you will, for the better part of his adult life. But I have always liked Gingrich; I would like to see him get the nomination.

You can check out more about John Rocker at his official website and you can purchase the book here.

You can hear a replay of the interview by downloading the mp3 here.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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21 Responses to John Rocker on New Book, the Mets, Bud Selig, Steroids, and Politics

  1. RonOK

    Mike, I listened and found it interesting – however, there is no getting by the fact that the man clearly showed he was a racist in 1999-2000.

    Frankly, I wouldn’t believe a word he says now …. I took it as a guy hungry for some air time who is doing whatever he can to sell a book.

    FYI — i will be in NY on either Wed 12/19 or Thur 12/20 — lunch?

  2. Mike Silva

    That sounds good — email me and we will meet up

  3. tnt1528

    if i recall the only ppl i think he insulted or should have been mad were gay ppl. everything else he said is what everybody else says everyday of the week..before you blast me just think about the weird looking guy you seen on t.v. or in the village or some person that comes to your work……..see what i mean you all think the same things he said,if not you are full of shit.

  4. Gronold

    tnt, While I don’t want to speak for all New Yorkers, I can speak for myself, a person who has lived here for almost 30 years. While it is true that there are people who live here that choose to do things that they believe makes them unique (i.e. dye their hair, get piercings), it is also true that this is something that does not offend or bother me in anyway. I have seen it, and as I believe most New Yorkers have, accepted it. You may say that Rocker was just pointing out the obvious, however, there was definite venom in his statements. They were and should have been taken with a negative connotation.

  5. Chuck Johnson

    Gronold & tnt,

    Please listen to the interview.

    Pay close attention to what Rocker said about what he told Pearlman and what ended up in print.

    If you’re opinion remains unchanged afterwards I can respect that, but I don’t think it will be.

  6. John

    Chuck,

    Yea because you should believe anything that he says, right? I’m so sure that the SI writer just made up all of those quotes….. /sarcasm. Are you kidding me? Is this John Rocker using a different name? How dense do you have to be to realize he’s trying to not only sell books but make himself look better in the process. I can’t believe anyone would actually believe what this douche bag has to say. You literally just blew my mind with that crap. Change of opinion, my ass. My opinion of him lowered with this b.s., since he obviously thinks we are stupid enough (I guess you are, Chuck) to believe what he’s saying. Absolutely ridiculous. This makes me feel sad for humanity once again.

  7. bob

    Hey Silva and RonOK can I join you guys for that lunch? Would love to chat it up with ya’ll. – Bob

  8. RonOK

    Here are the quotes from the SI article — these are quoted directly from Rocker … he never said he didn’t say them, just that they were taken “out of context”. Yeah, right ….

    From the interview with SPORTS ILLUSTRATED:

    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.”

    On New York City itself: “The biggest thing I don’t like about New York are the foreigners. I’m not a very big fan of foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?”

    In passing, he calls an overweight black teammate “a fat monkey.” Asked if he feels any bond with New York Knicks guard Latrell Sprewell, notorious for choking coach P.J. Carlesimo two years ago, Rocker lets out a snarl of disgust. “That guy should’ve been arrested, and instead he’s playing basketball,” he says. “Why do you think that is? Do you think if he was Keith Van Horn — if he was white — they’d let him back? No way.” Rocker is rarely tongue-tied when it comes to bashing those of a race or sexual orientation different from his. “I’m not a racist or prejudiced person,” he says with apparent conviction. “But certain people bother me.”

    “So many dumb asses don’t know how to drive in this town,” he says, Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind humming softly from the radio. “They turn from the wrong lane. They go 20 miles per hour. It makes me want — Look! Look at this idiot! I guarantee you she’s a Japanese woman.” A beige Toyota is jerking from lane to lane. The woman at the wheel is white. “How bad are Asian women at driving?”

  9. RonOK

    I thought this one was interesting as well — from 2006 after he was cut by the Indpendent League team (source http://raindelay.typepad.com/):

    Rocker takes pot shots at Glavine

    This is laughable at best. First of all, this is coming from the mouth of John Rocker, yes the one and the same. This time he opens his mouth, and takes a shot at Tom Glavine.

    “He’s had a few comments to make against myself that I thought were out of line and really sort of unnecessary and people took his side because he was the more mainstay Braves guy,” Rocker said. “I just really thought as far as reaching out to younger players and reaching out to his teammates, somebody who could ‘rah-rah’ in the clubhouse, really kind of stayed to himself. … You walk past him in the hall, he wouldn’t even look at you.

    “You know, to go and get something to eat and sit down at a table with him for 10 minutes after a game and you grew up idolizing him and he won’t even look at you, that’s rude. Maybe that’s just his personality and he’s a quiet guy, but to me it was rude,” Rocker said

  10. Chuck Johnson

    Listen to the interview John.

  11. frank

    Why didn’t you ask John Rocker what he thinks about HBO turning him into Kenny Powers on Eastbound and Down?

  12. tnt1528

    maybe rockers quotes would be better if a nyc resident said these words instead of him..he is still basically spot on with what he said,just throw in brooklyn too.

  13. tnt1528

    sorry,forgot to add i still believe the only ppl who should be offended are gay ppl, and whoever that teammate was also.

  14. Cver

    Great interview, Mike. Of course, not enough time to get to everything, but one topic that would have been very important to get to IMO is Leo Mazzone and his little bag. Rocker is so outspoken, you might have gotten an enormous scoop that would have verified Mazzone’s statement in more detail and indicted the BR*VES even further, besides the steroids (which he says “everybody did it”, so maybe he could have elaborated on who of their “greats” did). But really, if you ever talk to John Rocker again, please ask him about the scuffing, pine tar, etc.

  15. Stu B

    “the only ppl who should be offended are gay ppl, and whoever that teammate was also.”

    tnt1528: How old are you? Can you please write in English and not textspeak (eg people). Do you have any sensitivity for how other people feel? Anybody capable of feeling empathy should be offended by the things Rocker said.

  16. tnt1528

    stu b what is hard to understand? the only ppl who should be offended are gay ppl,simple english quote…im sorry but half the ppl he offended cant read this because they dont/cant/wont learn the english language…….how come no one is offended when dice clay said”there should be a sign at the airport that says if you cant speak the language get out of the country,but thats in spanish now too”….i feel bad for the cop who was just killed by 5 guys i bet cant speak english to good.do not for the ppl he offended

  17. tnt1528

    “do not for the ppl he offended” meaning rocker.

  18. Stu B

    Huh? What do you mean?

  19. Cver

    Congratulations Mike!

    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/dailypitch/post/2011/12/john-rocker-steroids-bud-selig-braves/1

  20. Mike Silva

    Thank You Cver – the Rocker interview was picked up by the Daily News, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, and Deadspin.

    Again, the support by the readers like you and contributors is what makes this fun

  21. Walt Coogan

    Juicers from the 1999 NLCS … John Rocker, Mike Piazza, Todd Pratt.

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