The former bad boy of Major League Baseball, not to be confused with current titleholder Barry Bonds, popped up in the roster of players implicated in the sport’s ongoing steroid scandal today when the Mitchell Report went public. John Rocker, the former Atlanta Braves relief pitcher, was among several former Braves mentioned in the report and linked to steroids and other performance-enhancing no-no’s.
In a tough week for professional sports in the city, this was another embarrassing blow. But at least for Arthur Blank, who on Monday watched his former franchise player Michael Vick get sentenced on federal charges just hours before his head coach fled to the University of Arkansas, the report – and involvement by former Braves players – turned the spotlight away from the Atlanta Falcons, even if briefly.
In 1999, Rocker sparked controversy after ranting against several minority groups to a Sports Illustrated reporter in explaining why he wouldn’t want to play for a New York team.
“Imagine having to take the No. 7 train to the ballpark, looking like you’re [riding] through Beirut, next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids,” Rocker said.
The comments prompted gay rights activists in Atlanta to protest, MLB to briefly suspend him and later, factored in the release of Rocker by the Braves, as reported by Southern Voice.
According to the Mitchell Report, Rocker received two prescriptions for human growth hormone between April and July 2003, well after the Braves dumped him. A spokesperson for Rocker explained that the hormones were a result of a prescription after shoulder surgery.
But with Rocker’s off-the-reservation comments throughout his fiery, though brief, pro baseball career, is it really a stretch to think the muscled pitcher wasn’t juiced prior to ’03?