Try not to prejudge John Rocker’s literary plans

May 6, 2011

but it’s difficult.

A couple of items about John Rocker, the former ML reliever who got into heaps of trouble for his comments about New York and the good people of Queens who ride the 7 train as reported by Sports Illustrated.

Rocker, who’s been out of the Majors since 2003, will take his turn on the literary mound when he (supposedly) self-publishes his memoir titled Scars and Strikes. Of course, I’ve seen a lot of items on the web referring to this, mostly out of a profile on Rocker in the May edition of Atlanta Magazine, written by Charles Bethea, but I’ve been unable to find anything from a publisher or even on Rocker’s website, which seems to be dormant. Would you think he would want to publicize it, especially since it’s reportedly coming out next month?

Sure enough, after reading the Bethea piece, one comes away still skeptical. Like many celebrities who have said some “unkind” things, Rocker claims Jeff Pearlman, the writer of that infamous SI piece, took a lot out of context. I’ve changed, Rocker claims. Maybe he really doesn’t get it. Bethea notes an incident between Rocker and Steak Shapiro, an Atlanta sports radio guy. Shapiro says Rocker uttered some anti-Semitic remarks, a claim the pitcher denies. “I would swear on my father’s grave to that. A close friend of mine, who happens to be Jewish, was standing right there.” [emphasis added]

Oh, no, you didn’t, John. You did not actually haul out the “some of my best friends…” card.

Similar notions sprinkled throughout the piece leaves wondering what Rocker thinks about his treatment by another member of the media.

As you can imagine, the idea of Rocker’s book is generating a lot of skeptical buzz, starting with Atlanta Journal Constitution sportswriter Jeff Schultz’s blog post.

Among the pertinent and musing points Schultz makes:

  • Rocker says the book will be a mixture of baseball and politics, with some of his “philosophy and feelings.” He adds that it will be “how the conversation would have gone had that writer gotten it right.” The reference was to the Sports Illustrated story in 2000, in which he bashed, among other things, homosexuals and “foreigners” (specifying, “Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people.” His punchline in SI: “How the hell did they get in this country?”
  • Rocker says he rarely speaks with reporters (or they with him) and adds, “I’ve sworn off doing print interviews.” In Rocker’s world, I guess this means a magazine doesn’t qualify as print.
  • Others may never get past [the SI article]. Not sure I’ll buy the book but it should be interesting if he has a book signing in Atlanta. Or in New York.

You can catch Rocker’s doppelganger, Kenny Powers, on HBO’s Eastbound and Down.

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