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John Rocker now throws political hardballs

By Michael Thompson

WASHINGTON – 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.

Rocker isn’t known for a memorable pitch in Game 7 of the World Series; or for a blown save that cost the home team a shot at the pennant. 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.”

Rocker was the first victim of many shots in the politically correct war waged against patriotic Americans.

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. In true Rocker fashion, he lets loose with candid straight forward commentary on immigration reform, the national debt crisis, the Trayvon Martin affair. Rocker also took the current administration headon with a disturbing account of the country’s general direction under Barack Obama, and the desperate need for regime change in the coming election.

Find out what really happened, in Rocker’s book, “Scars and Strikes.”

Rocker retired from baseball in 2005 and has moved on to a successful career in real estate in the Atlanta metro area. When WND caught up with Rocker he was heading down to Destin, Fla., to deal with a problem at a 254-unit apartment complex he developed and owns. While stuck in traffic, Rocker illustrated he was still the quick-witted and opinionated individual Pearlman goaded into saying controversial things in the 1999 interview with Sports Illustrated.

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.”

It was in this interview with Pearlman that the native of Macon, Ga., had his public reputation shaped. Rocker uses “Scars and Strikes” as a platform for addressing the character assassination that occurred in the pages of Sports Illustrated last century.

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.

Read all about his career in Major League Baseball, and why his numbers suggested he could have gone far.

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.”

To say John Rocker is fed up with political correctness and the culture police that enforce their speech code standards would be a gross understatement. As Rocker made clear to WND, he’s still waiting for the day when a public figures makes a politically incorrect remark and refuses to cower to the mainstream media. He would love to see someone stand in support of his or her opinion and say: “You know what? I’m not sorry. I don’t care if you’re offended. I have just as much of a right in this country to speak my mind without fear of abuse as you do to be offended.”

When, he wonders, will the concern for the offended stop outweighing the concern for those exercising their rights as Americans? Why are the “offended” always right?

The media weren’t able to find sufficient evidence to castigate Rocker as the “southern bubba” they so desperately wanted to create. Nevertheless, even years later, the media still refuse to see Rocker in any other light and he is still identified solely by Pearlman’s interview.

It was what Rocker sees as this unwavering misperception created by the media that finally gave birth to his book.

Thus, he writes in “Scars and Strikes”: “I guess the lesson I’ve learned over the last decade when it comes to media and their ability to manipulate the public’s perception is in line with the old cliché which states, ‘Don’t ever pick a fight with a guy who buys ink by the truck load.’ Well, I finally decided to buy my own truck.”

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.”

Rocker does have his opinions, and there is no easy way to sugarcoat them. To some, they are politically incorrect. To others, they are simply common sense. Regardless, he likes to express them.

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.”

He’s also got plenty to say about the current administration and the 2012 election: “Like hopefully a majority of Americans out there, I’ll be voting against President Obama this year. I won’t necessarily be voting for the Republican candidate as much as I will be voting against Obama. America has been the greatest nation this earth has ever known over the last 150 plus years. In my strong opinion Barack Obama does not hold a single core value or belief consistent with the principles that created this amazing country we call the United States of America. His belief system could not be more foreign from those of the ‘Greatest Generation,’ from the beliefs of a Truman, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, or Reagan. This country cannot sustain four more years of his cancerous ideology. I have always been a big fan of Newt Gingrich. He is one of the most brilliant people I have ever listened to. Unfortunately things didn’t work out for him, but such is our democratic process and a large reason America is the great nation it is. It seems that Governor Romney will be getting my vote, although be it somewhat by default. I would vote for the devil himself over Barack Obama which would actually be tough though as he seems to already be a supporter.”

He continues in an interview with WND: “This country cannot take four more years of Obama’s class warfare, internal strife-inciting rhetoric and politics. In every country there will always be a much larger lower and middle class than upper class. That’s common sense. Since the inauguration of Obama those in that normal majority have negatively cast themselves as the 99 percent, as if in some way they feel they are victims of something and thus have adopted an Obama-derived mindset that seems to discourage the improvement of oneself while demonizing those that have fulfilled the American dream and grasped success. Following the harmony of Obama, as if he’s the pied piper, the 99 percent have turned their focus on the destruction of the 1 percent instead of pursing their own accomplishment. It’s class warfare at the most basic level. Those are not the values and principles that made this country great, yet this is what Obama and his administration largely creates and supports.”

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

Rocker is passionate about defending America and ensuring that it remains a nation dedicated to limited government principles. Rocker wants a country in which hard-working people can succeed and keep the wealth they generate, instead of providing the means for those who don’t care about America to prosper.

Pearlman’s interview with Rocker ended with a scene from the visitor’s locker room at Shea stadium after Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. Rocker was allegedly rampaging around the locker room fuming about the result.

Pearlman asked Mike Remlinger, a veteran reliever for the Braves if Rocker had gone too far.

According to Pearlman, Remlinger commented, “baseball is a game of humility. You can be on top one minute, as low as possible the next. When you’re young, you don’t realize it. But sooner or later you learn – we all do. Be humble.”

For Pearlman, this must have been his voila moment, where the wily vet explains away the passion of the young buck letting his youthful ignorance get the better of him.

But Rocker doesn’t beg for forgiveness. He’s not sorry and he’s not going to pretend to be.

Read all about his career in Major League Baseball, and why his numbers suggested he could have gone far.

Find out what really happened, in Rocker’s book, “Scars and Strikes.”