Ball Five Pt 2

Editor's Note: John Rocker, the maligned former closer for the Atlanta Braves, has signed a book deal with Regnery Publishing (publisher of such bestsellers as Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry) to chronicle his comeback attempt. Regnery and Mr. Rocker have graciously agreed to post some of the pitcher's entries here, as they happen. Expect a new entry each week.

Things are looking up for me after a couple of tough outings. In only one week, I've lowered my ERA by nearly four runs. Nobody else on our pitching staff can claim that they've improved so much in such a short time. Hopefully Don McCormack, our manager, appreciates this and will get me into more ball games.

The morning of Saturday's game, the hurlers worked out with our pitching coach Dave LaPoint. We had just lost a couple of close games against Camden and Newark and he wanted to speak with the bunch of us. He said "you guys have to concentrate when you're on the mound", but I just had to roll my eyes. Believe me, we're not dummies, we're concentrating out there. Well, except for that lunkhead Todd Erdos, I'm not so sure he's with it. But he's a dumb lightbulb changin' Kowalski, so he can't help but be stupid. Anyhow, we all give 100% when we're out on the mound and sometimes we scan the stands for teenage jailbait between pitches but we don't let it affect our performance.

Well, LaPoint kept going on and on about concentration and discipline and crap. Finally I'd had enough so I decided to lighten the mood a bit. I told them that I had a question and squinted with my eyes as if I was concentrating really hard while trying to read something off the pitch charts. Then, in my best Jackie Chan accent, I said "Hideo Nomo say dat first pitch strike -- velly important!". The guys didn't laugh but I think they were stifling a few chuckles because they didn't want to embarrass the coaching staff. But a team has to stay loose to be successful. They'll learn that lesson from me as the season wears on. It's a long season.

Today I got some letters from my John Rocker Fanclub of Macon, Georgia. Having my very own fanclub in my hometown makes me so proud. This one kid wrote to say how much he admired me. He had just read my Sports Illustrated article from 1999 and agreed with everything I said. He also said that his brother was sent to Iraq a few months back and his family had no idea when he'd be returning. I wrote him back to clear up a few things. I mean, I'm flattered that he liked that SI piece, but I've grown up a lot since then. Some of the things I said weren't cool, and I needed to make sure that the kid knew that. Also, I can't believe that a member of my fanclub got sent to Iraq. My fanclub members are great kids and the ragheads don't deserve them, particularly when there are so many spics in this country who aren't doing anything useful. For instance, our utility infielder Cesar Tovar is hitting about .150. If they need somebody over there, they should send him because he's not helping our team.


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