ROCKER'S SUSPENSION REDUCED BY MLB ARBITRATOR
Published March 2, 2000
A 73-day suspension and $20,000 fine levied by MLB
Commissioner Bud Selig on Braves P John Rocker for
disparaging comments recently made in Sports Illustrated
"was virtually overturned" yesterday by MLB arbitrator Shyam
Das, according to Hal Bodley of USA TODAY. Das' decision
reduced Rocker's suspension to the first 14 days of the
regular season and cut his fine to $500. But Bodley notes
that Selig's initial ruling "was probably doomed from the
start, faced with a collective bargaining agreement that
allows him to fine a player only $500." Selig said
yesterday that Das' action "doesn't reflect any
understanding or sensitivity to the important social
responsibility that baseball has to the public." Meanwhile,
MLBPA Associate General Counsel Gene Orza said that he was
"disappointed the penalty was not reduced more but hoped the
ruling wouldn't affect labor relations" (USA TODAY, 3/2).
Rocker writes an op-ed in today's ATLANTA CONSTITUTION prior
to yesterday's announcement, in which he apologizes for his
"careless and unkind" comments. Rocker: "An apology is no
more than just words unless it is followed by actions. I
hope in this coming year I may somehow redeem myself"
(ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 3/2). But a coalition of Atlanta-
area community groups "blasted" Das' ruling and "is calling
for" the Braves to trade Rocker, who signed a one-year
contract with the team Tuesday for $300,000. Concerned
Black Clergy President Rev. Timothy McDonald: "We have been
insulted by this arbitrator. And I hope and pray that the
Braves would do the right thing" (ATL. CONSTITUTION, 3/2).
REAX: In N.Y., Joel Sherman: "Today, John Rocker
becomes the minority. Every eye will look at him with
suspicion, his every move will be monitored with distrust,
his very presence will elicit anger" (N.Y. POST, 3/2). In
Atlanta, Tim Tucker, on the reduced fine: "Five hundred
dollars. That's almost as offensive as Rocker's comments.
I mean, he will make 10 times that much per inning" (ATLANTA
CONSTITUTION, 3/2). In Chicago, Jay Mariotti calls the fine
"paltry" and writes, "It's a disturbingly small price to pay
for the biggest pile of prejudice heard from a modern-day
athlete. ... At the very least, he should have been required
to gargle with the very sewer water he was dispensing"
(CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/2). In Denver, Bob Kravitz: "The only
good news is, this whole unseemly mess is nearly finished.
Until the Braves travel to New York. Flak jackets are
optional" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/2). FSN's Keith
Olbermann, on the ruling: "It may also lead to a trade,
possibly to Montreal, and the delightful irony of Rocker,
saved by a foreigner after his comments about foreigners,
becoming a foreigner" ("Fox Sports News," FSN, 3/1).