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Rocker gets a raw deal


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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Chris Jackson

By Chris Jackson
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
February 2, 2000
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Major League Baseball suspended Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker on Monday for all of spring training and the first month of the season, fining him $200,000 and ordering him to undergo "sensitivity training."

All of this was for his tirade in Sports Illustrated, in which he slammed homosexuals, single mothers, minorities and the entire city of New York.

Many will ask whether Rocker deserves this punishment.

He doesn't.

Unfortunately, the precedent has already been set for pro athletes shooting their mouths off about race relations.

Fuzzy Zoeller's cracks about Tiger Woods' ethnicity following Woods' win at the Masters resulted in no punishment whatsoever for Zoeller.

Reggie White's homophobic, racist tirade two years ago didn't earn him an NFL suspension.

It almost begs the question: Was White not punished because he is African American, while Rocker, being white, was singled out?

Reverse racism is one of the touchiest issues in America. It exists, there's no disputing that, but after 200 years of Anglo-Saxon domination of the United States, some people say it's justified.

No form of racism is justified.

White should have been suspended, or at least forced to undergo sensitivity training. But he wasn't, and the precedent was set.

And now for baseball to suspend Rocker like this is ridiculous.

He opened his mouth and said a lot of things he shouldn't have. But in the end, they were just words.

Rocker didn't kill anyone, nor did he cause anyone physical pain. He offended a lot of people, to be sure, but one would hope that all those people would just snarl "idiot" and move on with their lives.

If Hank Aaron was able to do so after being one of the most initially incensed people, why can't Bud Selig?

Rocker is going to have to live with his mistake every time he walks into a clubhouse where Hispanic, Asian and African American players are. He's going to have to pitch in New York again, the city he singled out in his mindless rant.

He made the mistake, let him live with it. There's no reason to suspend him. There's no reason to turn May 1 into a media circus when the Braves play the Dodgers and Rocker's suspension ends.

Will Atlanta bring him back? Of course - he had 38 saves and 2.49 ERA last season.

It's true that athletes are role models, and that they need to behave on and off the field. Rocker didn't, and now his public image is forever blackened.

For baseball to take action beyond that is unnecessary. Let Rocker lie in the grave he dug for himself. Don't dig it any deeper.

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