John Rocker's Notes From Underground

The one-time Atlanta Braves closer chases his wingnut apotheosis.
Share |
Look homeward, dickweed.

Image via ibtimes.com.

John Rocker probably doesn't think of himself as Octomom. Which is reasonable, to a point, because she is a baroquely plastic-surgerized misery cartoon doing ghoulish stunt-porn to stay out of foreclosure, and John Rocker is a former Major League Baseball player and, at least according to the bio that accompanies his column at the bile-brained right-wing web nightmare WorldNetDaily, someone with "a successful career in real estate development." John Rocker didn't chase and catch the spotlight with Octomom's sad, moth-brained ardor; the December 1999 Sports Illustrated profile that began Rocker's slide towards the present had been assigned, quite reasonably, because he had been arguably the best relief pitcher in baseball the previous season. Octomom, a damaged and kind of dim-seeming lady, dearly wanted something that she should've known was fake and poisonous, and cruel people are going to ensure that she suffer for that in public. John Rocker, a crazyfaced bumpkin with a big fastball, struck out 104 in 72.1 innings and put up a 181 ERA+ in 1999. They're different.

But the two have ended up in the same bleak place—fame's seething, swampy sub-basement, a place haunted by the meth-pocked shade of Tom Sizemore and patrolled by a concerned-looking Dr. Drew and coke-cynical porn producers—for some of the same reasons. Both want to be something they're not, and both insist that the world know about it. Because the fame economy is terrible and cruel, and because there is money to be made in snatching at the bills trailing in the wake of a plummeting Q-rating, they are both falling apart in public, long after anyone wished to witness that disintegration. Rocker once had a talent; his cohorts in the fame-basement for the most part didn't. Their cravenness and hunger, though, have made them equals. It's not a good thing.

***

If Octomom, bless her heart, just wanted to be an Us Magazine photo of Angelina Jolie—beatific and child-surrounded, untouchably wealthy and absolutely unreal—Rocker has always seemed to want to be something more complicated. Rocker's persona—basically a WWF heel with a high school bully angle, generously slicked in greenie-sweat—was sui generis and strange and political from the jump. He was a combat-ready culture warrior claiming redneck status with jaw-jut defiance back when Larry the Cable Guy was still bombing in clubs under his government name.

He was also pretty fun to watch, as pitchers go. There are some gesticulative closers out there—air-humping Jose Valverde, pop-eyed goofus Jonathan Papelbon; emotive meatball specialist Heath Bell—but none of them go for, let alone pull off, the overstatement that Rocker made his trademark. When Rocker popped off and said a bunch of racist and otherwise appallingly hoary and ignorant shit to Jeff Pearlman, on the record, for that career-killing SI piece, Rocker could at the very least have made some Eminem-ian claim to being in character as the Savage Bumpkin Bully he played on the field.

He didn't, which is maybe to his credit and maybe not. Instead, Rocker maintained, hilariously if also a little pathetically, that all of his vilenesses were taken out of context; "As if," as Classical buddy Matthew Callan wrote at Vice, "a full transcript of their conversation could lend clarifying nuance to calling a black teammate 'a fat monkey.'" In the years since, Rocker has portrayed Pearlman's article as, in the words of his recent biography's promotional copy, "a well-planned character assassination." By the time he started making that case with any force, he was already well out of baseball and beginning his transition into his current iteration as a utility-grade cable-conservative beefsteak and full-time grievance-farmer.

Which, honestly, is a living—Chuck Norris has never been good at anything but roundhouse kicks and beard maintenance, but has at least kept his name in circulation by appending that name (the same proud one that appeared above the title on The Hero and The Terror) to creepo homophobic web-editorials penned by his creepo homophobic pastor. So it is maybe to Rocker's credit that he's at least doing his own writing, and wronging, and mongering of racist garments, although the links on his website to "Rocker Gear," including the Speak English t-shirt above, are presently dead.

But that's probably as much credit as we should give to someone who has refused to take any blame for his own relentless self-injury. Some people, or at least people who remember Rocker's career, may look at Rocker's career and see a player who paid for saying terrible things into a tape recorder on purpose, which in turn brought a ton of pressure upon himself under which he rather swiftly buckled; who then injured his shoulder and stopped throwing strikes (or vice versa), and who was the worst pitcher on a 67-73 Long Island Ducks team by 2005, at which point he was still just 30.

But John Rocker can see how and why that explanation is false, too easy. He sees the wheels within wheels—that liberal reporter, that liberal media, that liberal...baseball establishment?—where others might see spiraling control problems in both the baseball and non-baseball senses. Rocker, in short, is wise enough to see that his time in baseball is not the story it appears to be—Mark Wohlers, If Mark Wohlers Was A Fucking Asshole, basically—and is in fact something different, darker. Most importantly, Rocker knows that he deserves several more minutes on stage, a chance to tell and re-tell his sad tale—a simple man, beset on all sides by a biased media's insistence on reporting his own words and actions—and maybe also sneak in some predictably Rockerish/backwards thoughts on immigration and "political correctness" if there's time. Bearing all that in mind, WorldNetDaily is as good a place for Rocker to make his stand as any.

***

The most important thing to know about WorldNetDaily, and really probably the only thing worth knowing about it, is that it is the worst. Which maybe seems like a catch-all, or a reflection of my own biases. And which actually is insofar as WorldNetDaily has been proud and unembarrassed in its past publication of frank lies of every baroquely intolerant kind, and insofar as I think all that's terrible, especially because the whole site seems like an unseemly, cynical merch-hustle . It's a pretty terrible website, in short, one full of untruth and incharity and soul-wrecked Drudge-bait; it publishes a zombie brigade of the conserative undead—their roster of commentators includes Ann Coulter and Chuck Norris, Pat Boone and John Stossel and Pamela Geller and Phyllis Schlafly and Herman Cain and obscure sketchwad white-identity types writing under names like Vox Day and Molotov Mitchell. John Rocker fits in quite well with this group, and not just because he seems like a pretty terrible, small-minded guy.

For the formerly famous who choose to hang on to their notoriety—who keep paying publicists instead of shrinking their lives back down to civilian size—there is a sad sort of attention-based welfare state, of which WorldNetDaily is a part just as surely as are the apolitical vampire chuckleheads at TMZ or the stunt-porn nightmare-makers drawing up the contracts for Octomom's bleak frig-vid. There will always be that sort of demeaning work for John Rocker, as long as he wants it—an opportunity to go on television and express his reasoned insistence that all these illegals should speak English for fuck's sake, or a profile in a place like WorldNetDaily. Rocker was profiled there back in May, and praised as a warrior-prophet of the movement against political correctness. Here is how WND's Michael Thompson describes Rocker's rapid fall out of the game after saying, on the record, the worst possible things about "queers with AIDS" and lazy blacks and disgusting immigrants: "Rocker was the first victim of many shots in the politically correct war waged against patriotic Americans."

And if that profile goes right, there will be a column to write for some horrific and debasing hate-rave of a website whose target audience audience appears to be elderly bigots who are able to use web-browsers. Both in the ugliness it offers readers and the destructive bump it offers the author, writing a column for WorldNetDaily is basically the equivalent of releasing a "stolen" sex tape. That's where Rocker is right now, and what he's doing.

This is not really fame, at least as John Rocker once experienced it and may yet yearn to experience it again, and it doesn't seem terribly remunerative. So maybe "welfare state" isn't the right metaphor, actually. Maybe it's methadone, something to cut the shakes and level things back up to the right side of zero. The notoriety, like a drug, keeps the addict upright while offering, softly at first and then insistently, opportunity after opportunity to descend lower for a few dollars or a few minutes or a few low-wattage media hits more.

Rocker's first WND column, it's worth mentioning, is kind of charming. He's not a polished writer and he's clearly not being edited much; at the end of the piece, the title of his book is rendered as "Scares and Strikes," instead of "Scars and Strikes." Much of the column, which is about the governmental overreach and waste of the Roger Clemens prosecution—which sounds about right to me—is given over to Rocker's chosen framing device, which is of a baseball game dragging painfully through extra innings. "As I sit in the dugout panting like a dog, our No. 3 hitter strides to the plate with two outs and no one on," Rocker writes. "At this point in the seemingly unending saga we find ourselves, belief has long since departed, but glimmers of hope still remain as we watch one of our top men dig in to do battle." This is not really good writing, but it's not exactly terrible, either—it's something a smart and engaged high school kid might write, and how that kid might write it. The vituperation and dishonesty of other WND pieces is not to be found here, and the more oof-y bits—wherever Rocker writes "government," the word "big" appears before it, as if a grandstanding Congressional investigation of baseball players were somehow an indictment of the Environmental Protection Agency or federal transportation funding—may actually be WND house style.

There is, in it, almost an intimation of another Rocker—a guy who isn't dumb, and who hates what he thinks is bullshit and loves baseball and apparently gets a charge out of writing. This isn't the only John Rocker, and it's not the one he has really worked to sell as a public-facing brand; we'd probably do well to take his repeated proclamations of brash ignorance and bigotry at face value, and assume that he believes them as much as he keeps saying he does, and there's no shame in chuckling at this bully's brittle self-pity when confronted with the consequences of his own awfulness. There's no reason to feel bad for this guy, and if Rocker keeps writing the column he will doubtless remind us of all the things we hated about him, back when he mattered.

But it's easy to feel some pity for him, too—Rocker has created a persona for himself that is ugly, retrograde and small, and he appears committed to selling it, hard, to what dwindling audience remains for a late-model late-inning reliever's take on food stamps or voter fraud or whatever. It doesn't sound like much fun, but that's his choice, and what's left for him on this stretch of road. Oscar Wilde famously described the British gentry on a fox hunt as "the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible." Rocker rode out in pursuit of a rather more dangerous predator, caught what he was chasing, and seems not to have noticed that it has utterly consumed him. From the belly of that rough beast, he cries out, he rages. It's hard to make out what he's saying. Something awful about minorities, sounds like. Eh, fuck him.


Share |

Comments

Your site furnished us with profitable data to work with. Each and every tips of your post are magnificent. You rock for sharing. Continue blogging.. techywhacky.com

New site is solid. A debt of gratitude is in order for the colossal exertion. Safe FIFA 18 Coins

it was a brilliant opportunity to visit this sort of site and I am cheerful to know. much obliged to you such a great amount for allowing us to have this open door.. buy cheap fifa 18 coins

Amazing online journal. I delighted in perusing your articles. This is really an incredible read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am anticipating perusing new articles. Keep doing awesome! Race medals

Decent to peruse your article! I am anticipating sharing your undertakings and encounters. Rivercove Residences EC top bid

Been searching for such an astonishing web diary like this for a long time.bathroom renos

Your site is truly cool and this is an incredible rousing article. Much thanks to you to such an extent. cool instagram captions

Me and my companions have completely appreciated this blog.FIFA Mobile News

Pleasant Informative Blog having decent sharing.. http://www.blurb.com/user/happyweedlif?profile_preview=true

Your site is truly cool and this is an incredible rousing article. GST Software

You have a decent point here!I thoroughly concur with what you have said!!Thanks for sharing your views...hope more individuals will read this article!!! Income tax efiling

I concede, I have not been on this page in quite a while... then again it was another bliss to see It is such an essential theme and overlooked by such a variety of, even experts. experts. I thank you to help making individuals more mindful of conceivable issues. PS2 Home

I needed to thank you for this extraordinary read!! I unquestionably appreciating each and every piece of it I have you bookmarked to look at new stuff you post. ukrainian brides online

I am extremely cheerful to find your post as it will get to be on top in my accumulation of most loved websites to visit. Bihar Board 12th Result 2018

Amazing online journal. I delighted in perusing your articles. This is really an incredible read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am anticipating perusing new articles. Keep doing awesome! Custom enamel pins

A fascinating dialog is value remark. I feel that it is best to compose more on this matter, it may not be an unthinkable theme however generally people are insufficient to chat on such subjects. To the following. Salud. buy a star

The author has so delightfully enraptured the consideration of crowd by this radiant blog.online marketing services

Much thanks for keep this data. wwe roman reigns theme song

Extraordinary articles and incredible format. Your blog entry merits the greater part of the positive input it's been getting. Rivercove Residences

Fabulous and thoroughly captivating, This blog is a top of the line work.Greek luxury villa

Amazing online journal. I delighted in perusing your articles. This is really an incredible read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am anticipating perusing new articles. Keep doing awesome! Christian Mejia Muscle Building

I adore this website!! The blaze up the top is wonderful!! Paul

This is exceptionally instructive substance and composed well for a change. It's pleasant to see that a few individuals still see how to compose a quality post! Joe Schwartz

Much obliged you all that much to share these connections. Will look at this.. Latest Airline Deals

Decent to peruse your article! I am anticipating sharing your enterprises and encounters. check out

howdy, your sites are better than average. I value your work. Chemistry Tips

A debt of gratitude is in order for offering this quality data to us. I truly delighted in perusing. Will clearly going to impart this URL to my companions. Home Loans

much thanks to you for an incredible post. escorts in Amsterdam

This is an extraordinary article much obliged for sharing this enlightening data. I will visit your website consistently for some most recent post. I will visit your web journal consistently for Some most recent post. basement renovations toronto

I cherish the way you compose and share your specialty! Extremely intriguing and diverse! Keep it coming! 15 Minute Manifestation

i cherish perusing this article so beautiful!!great work! tour gratis estocolmo

giveaways. You are guaranteed your audiences will love them, spin them right from the package and spread your business message out! Check out the largest product line of Custom Fidget Spinners in the industry at C2BPromo.com, the No. 1 factory-direct Custom Platform of promotiona
Berita Game

Great post yet I was thinking about whether you could compose a litte more on this subject? I'd be extremely grateful on the off chance that you could expound a smidgen further. Welcome it! watch original doctor who online

"If those students have something come in the job market, they say they would leave in a heartbeat and go back to work," Jorgensen said. "There are also a lot of students who understand the value of completion." Berita Game

The latest craze fidget spinner toys everybody is talking about are here from C2BPromo.com for your customization with your brands, logos or business messages as promotional fidget spinners or branded fidget spinners or Logo Fidget Spinners for your marketing campaigns, trade show giveaways, corporate gifts, promotional gifts and event giveaways. You are guaranteed your audiences will love them, spin them right from the package and spread your business message out! Check out the largest product line of Custom Fidget Spinners in the industry at C2BPromo.com, the No. 1 factory-direct Custom Platform of promotional products to save up 60% and free shipping and free logo here! Personalized Fidget Spinners

This is such an extraordinary asset, to the point that you are giving and you give it away for nothing. I adore seeing blog that comprehend the quality. Im happy to have discovered this post as its such a fascinating one! I am dependably watchful for quality posts and articles so i assume im fortunate to have discovered this! I trust you will be including more later on... Condolence Messages

Utilization of refined and mesmeric is all that is expected to deliver such a grand blog.Game Guide

Totally awesome posting! Loads of valuable data and motivation, both of which we all need!Relay welcome your work. instagram statistics

Much thanks to you so much Love your web journal.. Bankruptcy Attorney Portland OR

I truly awed after read this in view of some quality work and instructive considerations . I just wanna express profound gratitude for the essayist and want you to enjoy all that life has to offer for coming!. Asset Division Surrey BC

Much thanks for keep this data. majestic theatre seating chart

much obliged to you for your fascinating infomation. buying plays for a track

A debt of gratitude is in order for imparting this quality data to us. I truly delighted in perusing. Will without a doubt going to impart this URL to my companions. Oil Field Attorney Oklahoma City

I take in some new stuff from it as well, a debt of gratitude is in order for sharing your data. Home Insurance Burlington VT

I've been hunting down some better than average stuff on the subject and haven't had any fortunes up until this point, You just got another greatest fan!.. Immigration Lawyer Silver Spring MD

Much thanks to you a cluster for offering this to every one of us you really acknowledge what you are discussing! Bookmarked. If you don't mind likewise look for guidance from my site =). We could have a hyperlink change contract between us! lovetraction lines

Hello, I discover perusing this article a delight. It is to a great degree supportive and fascinating and all that much anticipating perusing a greater amount of your work.. npv calculator

Pleasant Informative Blog having decent sharing.. womens shoes sale

Wow i can say this is another awesome article not surprisingly of this blog.Bookmarked this website.. http://rolexsubmariner.shop/

I truly awed after read this in view of some quality work and instructive considerations . I just wanna express profound gratitude for the essayist and want you to enjoy all that life has to offer for coming!. Family Law Attorney San Antonio TX