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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.