THE WINNING PITCH-February, 2000


Here I am sitting at my computer and flipping through the latest news about John Rocker. As of this moment, the appeal by the player's association hasn't been finalized. I have been doing my best to keep my mouth shut about this issue because I know that anyone who has anything to say to defend Rocker will be labeled a racist, a bigot, and insensitive to peoples' feelings.

However, my desire to defend the Constitution of this country compels me to again speak up. The only thing John Rocker is guilty of is STUPIDITY. He has broken no law. His right to free speech is protected by the Constitution.

Every other athlete I will mention in this column has broken a law. Not John Rocker. Bud Selig, the commissioner of Major League Baseball has suspended Mr. Rocker for all of spring training and continuing through the end of April. To add to the lunacy, Rocker was additionally fined $20,000.00 and ordered to undergo sensitivity training.

Are we not supposed to notice that the Emperor has no clothes?

I have spoken on this issue many times in the past. I believe that people who play the race card in this society are in it for the money. Racism is a concept that promotes conflict and keeps a lot of people employed. There is only one Race on this planet. The race of man.

Currently, people who use the term racism, try as hard as they can to reduce intolerance to a matter of skin color. If our government created a law that forced people to procreate children with a person of a different color, in a few years we could all be purple. Ignorant people will still choose to hate somebody for a new reason.

As soon as we created laws in an attempt to wipe out racism, we had opened the gate for every other potential form of ignorance. This country is currently giving birth to laws that are based on special categories of "hate." When you reduce hate to its lowest common denominator, it boils down to one being's unwillingness to share space with another being. A million more laws and regulations designed to force people to be "politically correct" will not change a persons right to be stupid.

Can't we see it doesn't matter whether the target of hate is white, brown or black? As humans we can hate people because of their sexual preference, religious affiliation, or even if they have zits. It doesn't take any talent to hate. Just stupidity. Guess what? Our constitution gives us the right to be stupid.

Here are my candidates for The STUPIDITY HALL OF FAME.

In the past few years several professional athletes have killed people, beat their wives, and been arrested for soliciting prostitution on the eve of the Super Bowl. Does anyone remember the infamous "white house' in a major city where the resident football players went to snort cocaine and "party?"

In the last few months, a young football player that grew up in my area has been charged with murdering his girlfriend, a Pro-Bowl linebacker is currently under arrest for killing two men in a fight, and Derrick Thomas died as the result of an injury apparently caused by his own reckless driving. Additionally, two basketball players were drag racing on a public street and one of them is now dead.

Every time a professional athlete steps across a line, their "players' association" stands up for their right to be a rule breaker. Everyone knows that once a baseball player commits an act that warrants suspension, the first thing he does is check the schedule so that he can "do his time" when his team plays a weak opponent.

If a league ever tries to set a standard, some scum sucking parasite comes along and hollers "VICTIM." It doesn't matter if it is high school, college or the pros. You know why it happens? The Constitution says it is okay.

How many Americans alive today have ever read The Constitution? Most people are waiting for somebody to bring out the audio tape version so they can listen to it on the drive to the local spot to get high on this weeks chemical "feel good."

Recently, Sandy Alomar spit in the face of an umpire and got a slap on the wrist. Why, when Alomar was in trouble weren't the politicians demanding he be cast off his roster? I don't remember local groups testifying at an appeal hearing of any previous law breakers, demanding his "sentence" be upheld. Did I hear someplace that a famous wide receiver was seen in television footage attempting to buy drugs a few days after being charged for possession? Where was the noise?

All of the above mentioned Stupid Acts have received minimal punishment in relation to their transgressions. One thing is clear. They all broke existing laws and skated off to a form of punishment that was far less than that rendered to most citizens. This of course excludes the poor souls who managed to bungle their deeds to the point it killed them.

Here are the facts, as I see them. John Rocker broke no law. He is then threatened with the loss of his livelihood, fined, and forced to be preached at by another ignorant person who thinks he or she has a solution to hate. Worse, he is subjected to the most hateful acts that many groups can think up, in the name of getting a little television time. The news coverage of his story makes him more vilified than any of the real candidates for the Stupidity Hall of Fame.

Is it possible we have another case of stupid people attacking Mr. Rocker for the color of his skin? Or, is it because he is tall? Maybe it is because he is left-handed. Hell, when he pitched against the Giants, I disliked him because he was an Atlanta Brave.

However, he has the same inalienable right to freedom of speech that allows every citizen in this country to speak his mind. He has the same right to do the stupid acts our President committed in the White House and remained in office. He can say the same stupid things that come out of Jesse Jackson's mouth when a football coach is fired. John Rocker has the right to profess his dislike of people, just like we all do.

The difference is that most of us know that there will be consequences if we reveal our moments of intolerance. John Rocker should have to be uncomfortable in his club house. He should have to deal with other athletes who don't like what he said. However, if professional sports teams have chosen to ignore real crimes committed by their players, they reveal how sick they are if they chose to punish John Rocker in any manner for exercising his right to be STUPID.

Freedom creates a tremendous amount of responsibility. Only irresponsible people want to create a legal system that is so restrictive that citizens can't express their stupidity. Hitler created one. Lenin did it. History is filled with a long list of candidates who have created systems to legislate equality. Have we forgotten that this country was founded by people running away from someone elses definition of perfection.

I'm sure the British thought our idea of a democratic republic was stupid. I think it has worked better than anything else I have studied. I know that we are on dangerous ground in the way this country is dealing with John Rocker. I'm glad the Founding Fathers understood the vitality of freedom of speech as well as warning about the terrible responsibility it would place on future generations.

I'm also sure they are not proud of what we have become. Drug abuse. Spouse abuse. Alcohol abuse. Umpire abuse. Child abuse. Self abuse. Fan abuse. The list has been fertilized and is growing.

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