Jeff Pearlman

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Scars, strikes and John

So John Rocker’s new book is about to come out. It’s called Scars & Strikes and can be ordered here, at John’s personal website.

Tonight I spent a few minutes listening to this interview, which John conducted recently with New York Baseball Digest. It’s an interesting segment in that, quite often, John sounds intelligent and thoughtful (which, I truly believe, he often is). He breaks down baseball well, is honest about his steroid abuse, bemoans the fates of men like Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire. It’s genuinely good stuff.

Well, mostly good stuff.

I suppose my main beef (and that’s probably too strong of a word) with John comes when he discusses our interview from the late fall of 1999. To be blunt, he’s either misremembering or, simply, full of shit. I lean toward the second. Not that I really blame him—it was an embarrassing time, and his suspension from the game was an enormous overreaction by a commissioner too eager to placate the fans. But Rocker’s whole we-were-debating-foreign-policy excuse for his comments isn’t merely wrong, it’s ludicrous. More to the point, how the hell could I have taken his words out of context, as he maintains. By “fat monkey,” did he actually mean Randall Simon was a big plush toy? By “queer with AIDS” did he mean “queer,” as in “queerishly curious”?

I digress. By the sound of things, Rocker doesn’t much care for me—but he’s clearly followed my career. And, to be honest, I’ve followed his, from time to time, too. I’m guessing he sees us as linked by that story, and I do, also. Is this a good thing? Not particularly. A bad thing? Meh. I still get reminded of the piece quite often; still am asked and asked and asked about it; still explain the story to college classes (as an example of how one shouldn’t interject his opinions into an interview … that the best thing a reporter can do is let the subject talk, uninterrupted).

Will I read John’s book? Mmm … probably not.

But maybe. Just maybe.

PS: The one thing I sorta don’t understand: If you’re John, why not just tell the full truth and admit you f#@!ed up? What’s the harm? “I was young and dumb and I was trying to show off for Sports Illustrated. It was so incredibly stupid, but here’s how I’ve grown and learned.” Instead, the man peddles SPEAK ENGLISH T-shirts. Sigh.

  • blmeanie

    You often complain about people discussing or critiquing your work without reading it first. Take the time to read Rocker’s book. If it is garbage and laced with untruths, then say so. Have the same respect for his book as you have asked others of yours.

    • Jeff Pearlman

      b, in promoting the book he’s already lied about our interview myriad times.

  • Please respect My Privacy

    I’m the guy at the urinal and you DO NOT HAVE MY PERMISSION TO PUBLISH A PHOTO OF ME IN A COMPROMISING POSITION!!!!!!!!

    Are you trying to use a public restroom as a metaphor for what you really think of Rocker’s book???
    Read the damn thing first before you defaecate on it.
    You are like the pot calling the kettle black my friend!!!!

  • Drew

    What’s with the picture? I’m so confused and so is the guy taking a leak in the background.

  • JK

    First felt it was odd that the pic had a man at the urinal in the background. Then realized I couldn’t make out the guy anyway, and the guy is prob the only one who knows who he is in this context anyway. So it’s not a violation of the guys privacy. BUt he prob was wondering who this other guy was taking a picture in the mirror. But I digress…

    I just read Perlman’s 1999 article (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/features/cover/news/1999/12/22/rocker/) & this article (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=pearlman/061214) out of curiosity. Always remembered John Rocker as the bigot, but not because of Perlman’s article. As I said, I just read it today. In fact, I grew up in Queens a stone’s throw from Shea and though am a Yankee fan, went to more Met games as a result. John Rocker cannot deny who he is and was. If we give him the benefit of the doubt and say he’s changed, so be it (but clearly he hasn’t by the looks of this “Speak English” campaign). There’s a reason why Met fans specifically, New Yorkers more generally, and the baseball world at large remember John Rocker to be a bigoted, foul-mouthed, poor excuse of a man who likes to belittle others to make himself feel better. And that is because anyone who came into contact with him felt the need to take a long, hot shower to rid themselves of the hate that spewed off of him. He’s just that kind of person. Maybe one day he’ll learn to be a respectable human-being. But for now, as he tries to sell his book, I’m sure all he’s learned is to say the right things, sort of, to sell as many books as possible. I will not be reading it, and neither should Jeff Perlman. You also have the same choice to never read Perlman’s articles that I linked to. However, I trust that Perlman showed the rest of the world what I, and thousands of people who have seen Rocker’s antics in person, know as truth: John Rocker is an a**hole. No doubt about it.

    • Dawson

      Pretty much everything you said about Rocker is false. I know John well and you simply have no idea what you are talking about. Rocker was deemed a “racist and bigot” for telling the truth about what and who he doesn’t like. He didn’t rant using racial slurs, as a matter of fact I don’t think Pearlman ever published or stated that Rocker used racial slurs. Rocker got a raw deal from baseball out of this one.

  • sanford sklansky

    Do you still have your notes of your interview with Rocker? Do you tape your interviews?

    • Jeff Pearlman

      I taped that one.

  • Ian M.

    I get out quite a bit in Atlanta and have talked to John Rocker on a couple of occasions over the years. Sadly, he’s the same guy that came out in your interview years ago. While there’s actually a reasonably intelligent guy in there somewhere, it’s totally drowned out with vanity along with what I think is a wounded kid. If you hadn’t revealed him in the interview, he would have sunk himself via steroids (admitted user) or some other means.

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