Shop Fantasy Central Golf Guide Email Travel Subscribe SI About Us Baseball - MLB Fantasy All-Time Stats Minors College World Baseball

 
  U.S. SPORTS
  baseball
scores
probables
schedules
standings
stats
injuries
transactions
salaries
players
teams
scoreboards
pro football S
col. football S
pro basketball S
m. college bb S
w. college bb S
hockey S
golf plus S
tennis S
soccer S
motor sports
olympic sports
women's sports
more sports
 WORLD SPORT

EVENTS
 Sportsman of the Year
 Heisman Trophy
 Swimsuit 2001

CENTERS
 Fantasy Central
 Inside Game
 Multimedia Central
 Statitudes
 Your Turn
 Message Boards
 Email Newsletters
 Golf Guide
 Cities
 Work in Sports

CNNSI.com GROUP
 Sports Illustrated
 Life of Reilly
 Television
 SI Women
 SI for Kids
 Press Room
 TBS/TNT Sports
 CNN Languages

COMMERCE
 SI Customer Service
 SI Media Kits
 Get into College
 Sports Memorabilia
 TeamStore

Scripted appearance

Rocker delivers well-prepared speech to media

Click here for more on this story

Posted: Friday June 30, 2000 12:13 AM

  John Rocker Rocker: "First of all, I would like to say that I am happy to be back in New York, believe it or not." AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- John Rocker's mouth got him in trouble, so this time he tried a pen.

When a newly composed Rocker arrived in New York early Thursday morning, the Atlanta Braves reliever went to his hotel room and started scribbling on some stationery.

Later in the day, he showed his work to former major league reliever Joe Sambito, who now works for his agents. Sambito did some minor editing to the four sheets, and when Rocker returned to Shea Stadium for the first time in 8 1/2 months, he showed it to Braves officials, who agreed he could address the media.

"As some of you can attest," Rocker said later, "I get off on tangents."

This was not the brash Rocker of October, who called Mets fans "stupid" and said "it's a lot of fun to know that I can get in these people's heads and can get them to react the way I want them to. All that does is fire me up."

Rocker's statement
NEW YORK (AP) -- Text of the statement made Thursday by Atlanta Braves reliever John Rocker before the game against the New York Mets:

First of all, I would like to say that I am happy to be back in New York, believe it or not. I've been involved in some great games and always seem to pitch well here.

Unfortunately, the situation has continued to escalate about my presumed hatred for the people of New York. The comments I made over six months ago offended many people. I am fully aware of this, and for that I sincerely apologize.

This situation, however, has become a distraction to many of my teammates. Unfortunately, many members of the media have overestimated my significance. I am merely a baseball player, guys, and in the great scheme of things, my thoughts, opinions and attitudes are of little importance.

In many cases, attempts have been made to make this situation bigger than the game itself, and in every realm of sports, nothing is the bigger than the game. Not the players who play it, not the fans who watch it and not the people who write about it.

At times, these circumstances have overshadowed a great year being had by the Atlanta Braves as well as many of its players. There is an exciting season going on, and it's time that that received the media's full attention.

I have apologized and have felt badly for anyone who took my comments personally. My comments weren't made with intentions of malice. However, many people perceived these comments to be malicious, and for this, I apologize once again.

I also feel that the people of New York as well as the media have misjudged me. I am not the evil person that has been portrayed. And when given the opportunity, many people who actually know me have spoken out strongly on my behalf.

I also am fully aware that the overwhelming majority of the people in this city are extremely charismatic and full of personality, although a bit spirited at times, but, you know, that doesn't make them bad people. I have always been completely aware of this.

Now, I will put this situation behind me. So please, allow the fans, the Atlanta Braves, major league baseball and the city of New York to move ahead. I think we would all appreciate that. From here forward, I will discuss nothing but baseball. I would appreciate if you all respect that request and asked nothing but baseball questions.
 
 
 

This was a contrite Rocker.

Accompanied by a Braves officials, he walked into the old New York Jets' locker room underneath the right-field stands, carefully making his path through a crowd of reporters, went to a podium in front of a Mets' logo and read what he had written, holding the original papers, crossouts and all.

The Mets showed a tape of the speech on their 26-foot-high video screen in left field, just before the first pitch of the hyped series.

"First of all, I would like to say that I am happy to be back in New York, believe it or not," he said, sounding more like a politician than a pitcher. "I've been involved in some great games and always seem to pitch well here."

It was no different Thursday. Rocker pitched a perfect eighth inning as Atlanta beat New York 6-4.

His comments in October angered fans, and his remarks to Sports Illustrated in December sparked a nationwide furor. Because of his anti-New York, anti-foreigner, anti-gay diatribe, he wound up with a two-week suspension, making his return to Shea a major event that attracted hundreds of reporters who crowded the field during batting practice as if it were a postseason game.

"Unfortunately, the situation has continued to escalate about my presumed hatred for the people of New York. The comments I made over six months ago offended many people. I am fully aware of this, and for that I sincerely apologize."

After the game, Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said Rocker's apology sounded genuine, especially compared to his March statement.

"It was a lot better than the one in spring training. It sounded like it came more from him," Jones said.

For months, many Braves had wondered if Rocker was speaking words others had written.

"It sounded like he was sincere in his apology," winning pitcher John Burkett said.

Still, Rocker couldn't resist taking a slight shot at reporters.

"This situation, however, has become a distraction to many of my teammates. Unfortunately, many members of the media have overestimated my significance. I am merely a baseball player, guys, and in the great scheme of things, my thoughts, opinions and attitudes are of little importance," he said.

"In many cases, attempts have been made to make this situation bigger than the game itself, and in every realm of sports, nothing is the bigger than the game. Not the players who play it, not the fans who watch it and not the people who write about it."

He read slowly, pausing between some words for emphasis.

"I have apologized and have felt badly for anyone who took my comments personally," he said. "My comments weren't made with intentions of malice. However, many people perceived these comments to be malicious, and for this, I apologize once again.

"I also feel that the people of New York as well as the media have misjudged me. I am not the evil person that has been portrayed."

When fans listened to the replay, most were silent. There were some boos, but they were scattered.

"The overwhelming majority of the people in this city are extremely charismatic and full of personality," Rocker said, "although a bit spirited at times. But, you know, that doesn't make them bad people."

With that, Rocker said he would answer only baseball-related questions forever more, and retraced his path out of the room.

"Hopefully, it will be over," Burkett said after the game, "but I doubt it."


 
Related information
Stories
MLB Scoreboard: Preview: Atlanta at New York
Rocker arrives in New York but doesn't take subway
Maddux scratched because of flu-like symptoms
Multimedia
Braves president Stan Kasten thinks John Rocker has learned a lesson. (65 K)
Mets' catcher Mike Piazza doesn't believe anything dangerous will occur at the game. (113 K)
Braves general manager John Schuerholz discusses the motivation behind keeping Rocker on the team. (196 K)
New York's Robin Ventura can't believe he is answering questions about Rocker in a special room. (166 K)
Visit Multimedia Central for the latest audio and video
Search our site Watch CNN/SI 24 hours a day

Sports Illustrated and CNN have combined to form a 24 hour sports news and information channel. To receive CNN/SI at your home call your cable operator or DirecTV.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


CNNSI Copyright © 2001
CNN/Sports Illustrated
An AOL Time Warner Company.
All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.