Florida – You’ve heard the sayings, spring is a time for rebirth, a time when all baseball teams seem to have a shot, and they’re all in contention. So why are we still talking about John Rocker? His comments, suspension, and subsequent return to the Braves has blotted out all of the good things this time of the year baseball is supposed to bring us. Enough already. I’m now convinced Rocker is getting almost exactly what he wanted. A rep, a larger than life image. His comments to Sports Illustrated were part of this great “persona” John Rocker was trying to expand. The next step past Al Hrobosky, the Mad Hungarian. Crazy, over the edge, dangerous. Boy, are we all scared now. What we know now is Rocker is disconnected with the real world. The fantasy life professional sports can force on any athlete without the brain power to understand it is not the real world has overtaken Rocker’s sensibilities. There is now way anybody with his background actually believes the things he said.
John Rocker’s right to say anything is protected by the First Amendment. No question about that. Our right to ignore him and think he is an idiot is also clear. Baseball’s right to fine and suspend him has nothing to do with the First Amendment. Baseball is not a government agency. It’s a private entity, with rules and by-laws. The same as if a movie star made the same comments. They have that right, but the studio also has the right to not put them in another picture. Imagine your local anchorman saying those things. He has that right, but would be doing it on the street corner and not on the evening news. John Rocker’s right to say those things has been protected, and the fans right to express their thoughts about him is also protected. Rocker might need protection, and a set of ear plugs this season. Thirty-eight saves and a ninety-eight mph fastball, left-handed,aren’tt going to get him out of this personal bases-loaded situation.
The bigger question is: Who cares? Are we so dependent on what famous people say and do to fulfill our own lives that guys like John Rocker can actually have an effect on us? That’s where we’ve gone astray. The more talent you display on a field of play, the more your opinions count. If Kelly Lightenberg were the Braves closer last year, we would have never heard of John Rocker. PGA Tour star David Duval laughs each time he’s asked a question not relating to golf. When he’s ranked #1 in the world, David says his opinion counts. As soon as he’s #2, the questions stop. Are you really going to vote for somebody because an athlete says to? Wear their shoes, sport their clothes, model your game on the field or court after somebody who has had tremendous success, but run the rest of your life yourself.