CATEGORY: COL Columns (Journal)

AUTHOR: PARRIS

HED:Parrish Alford: Something overlooked in Rocker columns: a little bit of truth

Driving back from Clemson, S.C., Sunday I was able to stop and watch the Braves and Yankees in Atlanta.

I was overcome with an historic feeling, watching the most storied franchise in professional sports in person for the first time.

And I don't mean the Braves.

But as I meandered around Turner Field during pregame, one of the Braves was making history outside the team's clubhouse.

John Rocker was fine-tuning his legacy again. No one knows how long Rocker will pitch, whether he'll eventually retire on his own terms, whether he'll alienate himself from all teams in the Majors or just talk his way out of the game.

Sunday Rocker had his first face-to-face meeting with Sports Illustrated reporter Jeff Pearlman since sharing his world views with Pearlman in a clear on-the-record setting.

Pearlman, visibly shaken according to witnesses, said Rocker shouted and made threats. Rocker told security not to allow Pearlman into the clubhouse, an order for which he lacks authority.

Rocker was sent to the minors Monday to work on his control of his mouth as much as his aim. At this writing he still had not reported.

The guy needs a good publicist.

No, the guy needs a great publicist.

In his SI article Rocker slammed gays, minorities, immigrants and basically anyone who didn't grow up caucasian in South Georgia like he did.

All offended groups clamored. Press conferences were held.

New York City residents Rocker's primary target called for his job.

That was pretty hypocritical, considering the fact that New Yorkers embraced Latrell Sprewell like a lost and wandering child when he signed with the Knicks.

Let's see. It's OK to choke your coach, as Sprewell did to P.J. Carlesimo while playing with Golden State.

But don't offend anyone. That's a firing offense.

Attempted murder is one thing, misguided comments are another.

Rocker painted a picture of an unpleasant subway ride in which he railed against, "some kid with purple hair, some queer with AIDS, some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing."

It's a clear lack of tolerance but with a hint of truth.

Tolerance in its purest form is a good thing.

We can't make our world a better place without attempting to understand the needs of others.

Differences do not have to divide us.

But overindulgence in anything is not good.

And as a society we have too much tolerance in many areas.

We're too tolerant of violence, immorality and substance abuse.

These things aren't limited to the New York City subway.

The results of violence seen only last week with a shooting at a plant in our area promiscuity and chemical dependency are depressing.

And our entertainment industry glorifies these problems.

Rocker eventually apologized for his statements, something which rang hollow last Sunday as he blamed the messenger. Was anyone surprised?

Surely John Rocker would not have made such outlandish comments with a little thought beforehand. If it's something he did think through and went ahead with that's even more remarkable.

He didn't need to be fired, but he needs to learn control. Rocker deserves his backlash.

But one important item in his thought process has been overlooked in the mounds of copy that has been written:

When you dig through the junk, there's a bit of truth there.

Parrish Alford is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. Email him at parrish.alford@djournal.com.

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