John Rocker was not one of those professional athletes who believed in making his statements on the field. Most of his relatively short career in professional baseball was spent with the Atlanta Braves, on the other side of the state of Georgia from his hometown of Statesboro. Rocker's fame/infamy stemmed not from his play against the Braves' rival New York Mets, but from his comments to Sports Illustrated after the contentious 1999 season.
Asked if he'd ever play for the Mets, Rocker was adamant. "I would retire first," he told the magazine. Referring to the subway line that runs past the Mets' stadium in Queens, Rocker said, "Imagine having to take the 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. It's depressing."
Calling New York "the most hectic, nerve-racking city," he made clear that it wasn't just the 7 train that unnerved him. "The biggest thing I don't like about New York are the foreigners," he said. "I'm not a very big fan of foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. ... How the hell did they get in this country?"
In case you're thinking that his comments were the result of rage caused by the steroids he admitted to taking while playing, Rocker began writing a column offering his thoughts on conservative politics for the fringe-right site World Net Daily in 2012 — just in time to weigh in on Barack Obama's reelection. "Will Americans Be Fooled Again," he asked in one headline, referring to the election. "Time to Wake Up, America!" he demanded in another, excoriating the much-hated idea of political correctness. He suggested that immigrants learn to speak English, keeping with his longstanding theme. And so on.
He hasn't written for the site since last April, meaning that he hasn't written about the phenomenon that is Donald Trump. (He did write a piece in 2012 called "Wearing Out the Trump Card," but that was about how liberals accuse others of racism too much.) But in an interview with the Daily Caller this week, Rocker weighed in on 2016.
"I wish someone, excuse the frankness here, would have the sack, would have the backbone to make unpopular comments, and when folks come out — mainly media, special interest groups, factions, things like that — and just start hammering them and demanding apologies. … I’ve always wanted to see the person that’s like, ‘Yeah, I’ve made these comments, these are my beliefs, and you know what, if you don’t like it, stick it. I’m not apologizing, I’m not changing,' " Rocker told the Daily Caller's Scott Greer. And? "Donald Trump is that guy."
Rocker's enthusiasm for Trump even prompted the ballplayer to soften his tone on New York. (Trump is from Queens, after all.) New Yorkers' push to always be the best, he said, "can get a little obnoxious and arrogant, but at the same time, it can be a good thing. Yes, it’s a bit of a racket living in New York because everything is so expensive, but people who live there, they love it and they’re willing to work damn hard and get callouses on their hands and elbow grease on their elbows just to live there, and I think that’s very commendable in a lot of areas."
So, to recap: A man notorious for his rude comments and conservative positions — positions that extend to concerns about immigration and "political correctness" — has looked at the candidates for the presidency and decided that his choice is Donald Trump.
Who could have guessed?
An important footnote: In 2015, the New York Mets went 90-72, won their division and went to the World Series. The Braves finished in fourth with a record of 67-95. Awww.