Braves' Simon finding it hard to accept Rocker's apology
Posted: Sunday January 16, 2000 05:34 PM
"We don't joke like that": Atlanta Brave Randall Simon believes that John Rocker's apology was a sham. Andy Lyons/Allsport
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) -- Atlanta Braves first baseman Randall Simon says he knows John Rocker was talking about him when he described a teammate as a "fat monkey" in a Sports Illustrated interview.
And he says Rocker's explanation of the comment as merely clubhouse humor is a lie.
"I swear to you if he said that to my face I'd tear him up, and one of us would be suspended right now," Simon said Saturday in an interview with Morris News Service. "When I joke, I don't try to make somebody feel bad. He knows, too. We don't joke like that.
"He knows we've never had a relationship like that. He has no relationships with the black guys or the Latin guys on the team. He's lying to try and cover himself. He has a lot of guts to say that."
Rocker, a Braves relief pitcher, criticized gays and immigrants and described a black teammate as a "fat monkey" in a Sports Illustrated article published in December. He told ESPN earlier this week he was talking about a Latin teammate.
"I'm the only one on the team who's Latin and black," said Simon, playing in a Dominican baseball league this winter. "I know for a fact he's talking about me. It's going to be tough for me when I see him."
Rocker explained the "fat monkey" comment to ESPN's Peter Gammons by saying, "I've said it to his face in the past. And he'll fire with this, that or the other and we'll laugh about it. I let a reporter in on an aspect of clubhouse humor and he took it literally."
Simon said that explanation was a lie.
"Anybody can say things and then say, 'I'm sorry,'" he said. "It doesn't mean he's sorry. I know he's apologizing right now to get himself right. He's scared, and he's going to do things to make himself feel better and look better."
Rocker publicly blamed Simon late last season for a botched play at first base that cost the Braves a win.
"Rocker has made comments before about me," Simon said. "What he said he says now was a mistake. It wasn't a mistake. How can you still have anger about something two months after the season ended? It's not just one thing he said, he said a whole bunch of things. My mom and girlfriend say, 'Let it go,' but it's hard to let it go."
Baseball home run king Hank Aaron and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young met with Rocker on Wednesday and said they were pleased with the relief pitcher's apology. Both said it would be difficult for Rocker to repair his relationship with teammates.
Minority groups in Atlanta have called for the Braves to release Rocker. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig ordered him to undergo psychological tests last week and said he may take disciplinary action.
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