John Rocker Tells A Truth No One Wants To Hear (Especially From Him)

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There’s no difference between what John Rocker said and what baseball as a whole did regarding performance enhancing drugs. Rocker’s recent comments elicited a rehashing of his behaviors when he was playing the wrestling bad guy. The entire genesis of “Rocker is an idiot” stems from his ill-advised interview in Sports Illustrated. Because Rocker said some offensive things then doesn’t automatically make everything he says meritless. If it were a former baseball owner, a respected player, a broadcaster, an agent, or a writer who came out and said the same things Rocker said, would it be seen as blatant honesty or Ann Coulter-style, absurd over-the-top salesmanship?

Rocker said the following while appearing on Cleveland’s 92.3 The Fan:

Honestly, and this may go against what some people think from an ethical standpoint, I think it was the better game.

At the end of the day when people are paying their $80, $120, whatever it may be, to buy their ticket and come watch that game, it’s almost like the circus is in town.

They are paid to be entertained. They wanna see some clown throw a fastball 101 mph and some other guy hit it 500 feet. That’s entertainment. You’re paying to be entertained.

Was there anything more entertaining than 1998—I don’t care how each man (Sosa and McGwire) got there—was there anything more entertaining than 1998?

Nowadays Rocker’s a guest on radio shows only because they realize that whatever he says will be twisted out of proportion because of the new politically correct sensibility against PEDs. Never mind that the owners, the players, the media and the fans were all holding hands denying the reality that the home run records set by Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa and the resurgences from pitchers long past their sell-by date like Roger Clemens came about due to drug use. Since Rocker said it, it has to be treated with revulsion. The only problem is that he’s right.

After the 1994 strike that wiped out the playoffs and World Series, blew away Tony Gwynn’s last chance at hitting .400, ruined Matt Williams’s run at the home run record and essentially demolished baseball in Montreal, the sport went into overdrive to replenish fan interest. Whether or not there was a tacit decision to ignore PED use or a whisper campaign to encourage it probably depends on whom you’re talking to or about. Commissioner Bud Selig acts as if he had no clue what was going on; the players were looking to get paid; the front office people had to sign players they knew were using to keep their jobs; the owners couldn’t care less; the media turned their heads; and the fans came back to the ballpark to watch the players hit dingers and shatter records. If no one’s innocent, everyone’s guilty.

It was only when the moral outrage started based on the self-aggrandizing investigation of Jeff Novitzky that got the ball rolling on exposure of PED use in sports. By then baseball had no choice but to put up a front of ignorance and take steps to “clean up” the game. It’s still ongoing with the current Biogenesis investigation threatening to be the newest in a string of baseball’s attempts to be dictatorial against one of the most powerful and committed unions on the planet. To meet their current ends they’re willing to run the risk of another collusion verdict in the inevitable lawsuits to be filed by Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez and all the other players named in the records.

To imply that Rocker is wrong in his assertion that it was a show MLB was putting on to entertain the fans and make a lot of money is contrary to the facts. His statements were not based on wringing the last vestiges of attention from his infamy.  He was telling a truth that no one wants to hear or admit.

It’s simple to dismiss Rocker as a bitter fool by pointing to an entirely separate incident that happened over thirteen years ago. What happens when someone who’s not perceived as a bitter fool says the exact same thing? Then will it be seen as someone bringing forth contentions that all of baseball, the media and the fans loathe to admit: they got a thrill out of seeing all the records falling and balls flying out of stadiums. In their statements, baseball acts indignant at the PED use. In their actions/inactions, they were in on it and, in fact, encouraged it.

Say what you want about Rocker as a person, but his statements are dead-on. Because no one wants to hear them, especially from him, doesn’t alter their accuracy.

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2 thoughts on “John Rocker Tells A Truth No One Wants To Hear (Especially From Him)

  1. While I certainly understand the point you are making here, I have big heartburn with this phrase: “…I think it was the better game.” Totally wrong. It may have been a more ENTERTAINING game, especially for the extra 20,000 nitwits who for some reason attend each baseball game even though they couldn’t really care less about the sport itself, but it was most definitely NOT a “better game,” at least not for those of us who are real fans of the sport. I vividly remember 1998, when “fans” in opposing stadiums were cheering McGwire’s home runs even though they hurt the home team. That is a spectacle on par with professional wrestling (a pursuit more appropriate for the likes of Rocker) rather than a genuine sporting event.

    As a child of the 70s who remembers going to games usually with 12-15,000 of my closest baseball fan friends and who is today a season ticket holder, I deplore what the sport has done to bring in those extra 20,000 that were not there 35 years ago–especially the mindless “entertainments” between each half inning and stadiums lit up at night with so many distracting blinking gizmos they look more like giant video games. All to attract “fans” who arrive in the fourth inning, leave after the seventh and spend the whole time there texting and yapping on their cellphones. I understand that all of this garbage has made the owners and players boatloads of money, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it or that the sport is “better” for it, even now that the PEDs are mostly gone.

    1. I don’t know that the PEDs are “mostly gone.” In fact, it’s doubtful that they are. Players will still try to use the next “secret” drug that’s undetectable.
      I don’t agree with everything Rocker said. “Better” is a matter of opinion. He brought out a series of facts that if someone other than him said them, they’d be applauded as telling the truth rather than ridiculed because of who he is.

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