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Thursday, April 14, 2005

John Who?

The link on the ESPN website said Rocker asks New York fans to forgive him, so I figured that some rock star involved in sports (perhaps as an owner) wanted forgiveness for doing some dastardlya act onstage, slurring New York, or both.

Turned out I was wrong.

Turned out that I had moved on, that my memory wasn't that long.

It was John Rocker they were talking about, you see. You remember him, the loutish lefty reliever for the Braves (and subsequently others) who had a habit of writing checks with his mouth that his performances ultimately couldn't cash. The guy who launched a tirade about the evils in New York, figuring that the world really cared what a barely post-teenaged reliever thought about the social milieu that is NYC. Yes, the guy who, by opening up his mouth, demonstrated at the time what an intolerant fool he could sound like.

Well, he's back in the NY area, this time as a pitcher for an independent league team where, at the age of 30, he hopes to rekindle his career. Think Jamie Moyer (at least in terms of player development; Moyer's comportment always was excellent), the ancient Mariner who was a young Cub, floundered a bit, and then got a second career going in his mid-thirties. In this case, Rocker had a career in his early twenties, and he's now trying for a second act.

F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote that "There are no second acts in American life." That may be true for Joe Gibbs thus far in Washington and it was true for Rollie Massimino in Las Vegas, but Fitzgerald didn't watch that much baseball and he didn't focus his powers of observation on the species that is known as the lefthanded pitcher. Many of them do get second, third and fourth acts, if only because there's a general view that lefties take longer to develop. For them, life well could begin at 30.

Will New Yorkers forgive Rocker? Perhaps if they even remember him, they will. The guess here is that they don't really care enough to get exercised about him. Some mighty even pity him.

Can Rocker rekindle his career?

Why not? Jamie Moyer did, so did Ricky Bottalico, and many others have as well. It struck me that maturity impeded Rocker's progress, so if he can keep the little man on his left shoulder who wants attention from conducting a baseball version of "Girls Gone Wild" every time the big lefty talks to the media, he'll have a chance.

He'll also have the opportunity to prove to all that his name really is Rocker -- and not Rockhead.

America loves stories like these, so a Rocker comeback might draw a lot of cheers. Then again, it could also draw a lot of "Oohh sheeshes" the way Tonya Harding's boxing career has.

Thankfully for John Rocker, it's all up to him.


Blogger Tony said...

Like many others here in Cleveland, I gnashed my teeth when we traded Karsay and Reed ("The Steves") for Rocker. At least those guys still carry their MLBPA cards.

When John Hart took him off our hands as GM of the Rangers, it might have been his greatest contribution to the Indians organization ...

3:56 PM  
Blogger Corey said...

I visited Rocker for a bit when he was in the Devil Rays camp. He's got one main problem, he can't pitch. He was great as a thrower of 96-97 MPH fastballs, but his velocity has gone further south than his baseball career.

He should've left to be a stock broker when he had the chance.

6:54 PM  

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