John Rocker's critics again demanded his release yesterday, saying a baseball-mandated psychological evaluation won't cure his "hate-filled heart."

They said the tirade by the Atlanta Braves' pitcher against immigrants, minorities and gays was bigotry--not an off-the-cuff mistake or mental disorder.

"John Rocker is not crazy," said Michael Langford, president of Atlanta's United Youth-Adult Conference. "His hateful remarks are not a result of what is in his head but rather a result of a hate-filled heart."

Langford said ordering psychological tests is like "treating a cancer with an aspirin."

Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said Rocker's teammates will allow him to redeem himself, but only if he shows "drastic changes" in attitude.

Jones, speaking yesterday on Atlanta radio station WSB, said he fears for his teammate's safety.

"I wouldn't want to be in the same county with him," Jones said. "You don't come out and say things like that without some people taking some extreme objection."

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig ordered the evaluation on Thursday and said he will await the results before deciding on any discipline. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the tests began yesterday in Baltimore.

Selig called Rocker's remarks in Sports Illustrated last month "reprehensible and completely inexcusable."

But the decision was not nearly enough for leaders of about 20 advocacy groups that protested outside Turner Field. They said nothing short of Rocker's release by the Braves would satisfy them.

The rally drew about 40 people, mostly leaders of Atlanta civic groups representing Asian Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, gays, Christians and AIDS activists.

Auto Racing

Driver's Condition Is Serious

Indy Racing League driver Sam Schmidt was upgraded from critical to serious condition following spinal surgery, but remained paralyzed 24 hours after breaking his neck during a testing session.

Henry Bock, the IRL's director of medical services, said it is too early to determine if the paralysis is temporary or permanent.

Schmidt, 35, of Las Vegas, underwent surgery to fuse two vertebrae on Thursday night at Orlando Regional Medical Center.

Schmidt was injured when his car hit the retaining wall at Walt Disney World Speedway. The left rear of the car went hard into the concrete barrier.


Goldstein on Cup's Practice Team

U.S. Davis Cup captain John McEnroe has named Rockville native Paul Goldstein a practice partner for the squad that will play in the first round against Zimbabwe Feb. 4-6. Goldstein is not scheduled to play any matches, but he and the team's other practice partner, Levar Harper-Griffith, will make the trip to Harare and hit with Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and the other American players.

"It's good to have new young faces, like Paul and Levar, as Davis Cup practice partners--they will be great additions to the team atmosphere down in Zimbabwe," McEnroe said. Goldstein, 23, ended last year ranked No. 90 in the world.


United Favors Yallop for Assistant

Former Canadian national team captain Frank Yallop has emerged as the leading candidate to become D.C. United's top assistant coach, and the MLS club may announce his hiring early next week. The other candidates to replace Dave Sarachan, who resigned this week to become a U.S. men's national team assistant under Bruce Arena, are American University Coach Bob Jenkins and University of Virginia assistant Craig Reynolds. . . .

Nicolas Anelka scored two goals, including the equalizer in the 72nd minute, as Real Madrid tied Brazil's Corinthians, 2-2, at the world club championships in Sao Paulo. Edilson scored twice for Corinthians.

In the second game, Saudi Arabia's Al-Nassr beat Morocco's Raja Casablanca, 4-3, on Moussa Saib's goal in the 85th minute. . . .

Argentine soccer hero Diego Maradona, who failed a cocaine test this week, is suffering from a serious heart condition and has problems with his motor skills, his doctors said. . . .

Even without its top players, the U.S. women's team had no problem with the Czech Republic. In the Americans' first game since their World Cup stars began a boycott over wages, they routed the Czech Republic, 8-1, in the opener of the four-nation Australia Cup.


A Storm in Seattle

Seattle's WNBA expansion team will be called the Storm.

"We like the name because of the connection to the local weather, and because it conveys a strong attitude that this team will be a force to be reckoned with," said Karen Bryant, the team's senior director of WNBA operations.