Even John Rocker admits he went "way too far" this time.
The tough-talking reliever for the Atlanta Braves ate his words yesterday, saying his comments that disparaged homosexuals, AIDS patients, foreigners, minorities and single mothers were a mistake.
Rocker triggered outrage in New York and even his native Georgia with his remarks in the current Sports Illustrated that could lead to discipline from baseball or the Braves.
"While I have evidenced strong competitive feelings about New York fans in the past, and take responsibility for things I have said publicly, including the Sports Illustrated article, I recognize that I have gone way too far in my competitive zeal," he said in a statement released yesterday.
Rocker said he was not a racist, although he "let my emotions get the better of my judgment, and have said things which, when read with cold, hard logic, are unacceptable to me and to my country. Everyone makes mistakes and I hope everyone can put this aside and begin the 2000 season with a fresh start. I am contrite."
Commissioner Bud Selig called Rocker's remarks "inappropriate and offensive" and said they are being reviewed. "We will take appropriate action," Selig said.
Braves General Manager John Schuerholz spoke with Rocker for 10 minutes yesterday and said he planned to meet with him after the holidays "to discuss what actions the organization will take."
"The viewpoints attributed to John Rocker in no way reflects the views of the Atlanta Braves organization," Schuerholz said. "He works for us, but in no way do the comments, attitude and feelings represent those of the Atlanta Braves."
Rocker's teammate, Brian Jordan, told Atlanta radio station WQXI: "You can't respect a guy that makes comments like that publicly."
Pitching coach Leo Mazzone, also on WQXI, was critical of Rocker.
"One of his teammates might punch him out," Mazzone said. "Something's going to go wrong now with his career. And you watch it, it'll end up going straight down the tubes."
Schuerholz said he did not think Rocker's remarks would be disruptive to the team. He said Rocker told him that "he has as many good friends on this team that are African American or Latin as he has that are Caucasian."
Said Sara Gonzalez, president of the Atlanta Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: "His racist opinions are just, to me, a representation of a very ignorant and uneducated person." . . .
The San Diego Padres acquired first baseman Ryan Klesko and second baseman Bret Boone in a six-player trade with the Braves.
The Padres, who also received minor league pitcher Jason Shiell, sent second baseman Quilvio Veras, first baseman Wally Joyner and left fielder Reggie Sanders to the Braves. The cost-cutting Padres are relieved of just under $1 million in salary this season, but they take on Klesko's $6.5 million salary for 2001. . . . The New York Yankees traded pitcher Hideki Irabu to the Montreal Expos for three prospects. The Yankees received right-hander Jake Westbrook and two players to be named. . . . The Florida Marlins signed free agent P Ricky Bones, who spent last season with the Baltimore Orioles, to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training, the team said. . . . Left-handed starter Jeff Fassero, a free agent after splitting the season between Seattle and Texas, agreed to a one-year contract with the Boston Red Sox.
A federal prosecutor in Newark presented a videotape in a court hearing that he said shows Robert Lee Sr., the head of the International Boxing Federation, taking bribes and manipulating the organization's rankings.
Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Braunreuther asked U.S. District Judge John Bissell to appoint a monitor to reform the IBF. Lee, the IBF founder and president, is on paid leave.
Lee's attorney, Gerald Krovatin, argued that Lee is not running the boxing sanctioning group and that prosecutors have not met the standards needed for a monitor, including showing the likelihood of future wrongdoing.
Bissell has not decided if a monitor should be appointed.
He asked both sides to submit three names of potential monitors by Dec. 30.
If the judge grants that request, it will be the first time a monitor has been imposed on a sports organization, prosecutors have said.
Denver Broncos linebacker Bill Romanowski has been fined $15,000 by the NFL for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Jacksonville Jaguars running back Fred Taylor.
'Bucky' McDonald Dies
Howard "Bucky" McDonald, a record-setting basketball player at George Washington University who was drafted by the New York Knicks, has died of cancer. He was 66.