View Full Version : Social Responsibilty

03-07-00, 10:40 PM
I was in Washington over the weekend and saw this article in the Washington Post. It articulates perfectly (in my opinion) the hypocrisy of Major League Baseball in it's handling of morally sensitive issues i.e. Strawberry, Rocker, Rose, Shoeless Joe, etc.

Punishment Comes In Many Forms

By Thomas Boswell/Washington Post

Friday, March 3, 2000; Page D01

This week Darryl Strawberry, who primarily hurt himself with
his drug relapse, was suspended from baseball for a year.
Reportedly deep in debt, he also lost a $750,000 contract. His
career probably is over.

Also this week, John Rocker, who hurt all of baseball and
offended almost everybody in America, saw his suspension
reduced from 28 days of the regular season to 14 by an
arbitrator. His fine was cut from $20,000 to $500. And the
Atlanta Braves re-signed him on Wednesday to a one-year,
$300,000 contract.

Hurt yourself, get the guillotine. Hurt everybody else, report
to spring training.

So much for common sense.

These are strange days, indeed. If you have a disease such as
drug addiction that can destroy your life, and you succumb to
demons that many of us cannot even imagine, you get what is
tantamount to a life sentence.

But if, speaking on the record in a national magazine, you rip
off a succession of bigoted, hate-filled and stereotypical
insults, your employer gives you a new contract and your
industry finds itself powerless to discipline you appropriately.

Many say complex issues of free speech, employee rights,
disciplinary precedent and labor-management relations are
involved in the Rocker case. That's true. But so is something
else. Pro sport talks a good game against bigotry. But, in the
hundred gray areas where unspoken agendas are set, enough
isn't done about it. If baseball deeply desired more minority
owners, more minority executives, more urban baseball
programs, fewer brazen Marge Schotts and fewer punk
Rockers, that's how it would be. Baseball has had 50 years to
change. It hasn't. Not enough.

Now we have Rocker. The case has been made--in his
behalf--that he comes from an affluent, educated family in
Macon, Ga. His father is a lawyer, his mother a teacher.
Examples have been cited of open-minded behavior by Rocker
and his family that seem inconsistent with racist attitudes. It's
been reported that Rocker's SAT scores were 1,270, book smart
by any standard.

Help me here. Why does this make his comments more
tolerable? Ignorance and poverty are sometimes cited as
mitigating circumstances in explaining racism. What is
Rocker's excuse?

Actually, he may have some. He was a hyperactive child. He
has an explosive temper. In baseball parlance, he has size-10
rabbit ears. And, apparently, in an "I-hate-those-
foulmouthed-Mets-fans" riff to a Sports Illustrated reporter, he
flipped into bullpen-maniac mode and went off the deep end.
More knowledge of Rocker may put his remarks in the context
of his larger problems--especially his issues with anger. But all
that doesn't let Rocker off the hook.

When it comes to intolerance and bigotry, words are acts. You
don't have to wear a white sheet to perform a racist deed.
Rocker's words qualify easily. Is Rocker, in his heart-of-hearts,
a bigot? That's unknowable. He says he's not. But his words, in
a public forum, speaking as a famous baseball player, were an
unmistakably bigoted act. Unfortunately, Rocker doesn't seem
to get it. Not yet. That was clear yesterday.

Rocker's news conference apology at the Braves' training camp
may not do him much good. He said many of the right words.
But he did a lousy job of delivering his speech. He read fast,
dashing through the painful experience as quickly as possible.
He kept his eyes down. His demeanor seemed to imply he felt
he was a victim of some kind. Then he took no questions.
Subject closed. Were the words his own? He certainly didn't
seem to "inhabit" them, as actors say.

Even Rocker's statement missed the point. He addressed three
issues, as if they were even remotely comparable. He
apologized for cursing--a bad example to kids. He apologized
for calling a Latin teammate a "fat monkey." And, oh yes, stuck
in between those two, he apologized for making comments
that might make people think--mistakenly, he says--that he is a

In short, Rocker wasn't as concerned with making clear that he
understood the harm he has done, as he was consumed with
casting the whole incident as some awful angry mistake that
didn't reflect his true nature. Unfortunately, this is the classic
adolescent view: Judge me on my true feelings, the real me,
not on what I actually do. In the adult world, nobody cares
much about your true feelings. But your actions, and words,
matter a lot. That's called being responsible.

The Rocker saga has brought out the wise responses in many.
Former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young said, "You don't destroy
a 25-year-old for one mistake." Tony Gwynn said he thought
the suspension was fair but that now, as the public and the boo
birds get a piece of him, Rocker will find out "what he's made
of." Players have said Rocker's words made them ashamed to
be big leaguers. Yet many have also said they're ready to
accept Rocker's apologies.

A major league clubhouse is a place where a hundred personal
flaws and foibles must be overlooked, endured or understood
before a team can truly be a team. If you think what Rocker
said was bad, you haven't been in locker rooms for the last 25
years. What athletes have heard each other say or seen each
other do would curl your hair. It's not a place where
judgmental people function well. The crude, passionate,
inspiring, screwed-up human circus is pressed flush up
against your face every day. If you can't take people as they
come--an amazing range of people--you better get out. No
wonder no-holds-barred humor is the antidote.

In such a world, every player knows that the process of
forgiving, or at least forgetting, is essential to the team. And to

03-07-00, 10:40 PM

03-10-00, 04:51 PM
Baseball has historically had a terrible track record in balancing their punishments with the legal system's, and is probably the most backwards professional sports league. Major League Baseball is almost like its own country. It seems none of the laws that apply to the normal citizens apply to baseball players, and vice~versa. I don't even think it's a "because they're in the public eye" type of thing, because look at Robert Downey Jr.

Baseball needs to re-evaluate some of its procedures, and make sure that the punishment that they levy fits the crime.

Let's look at this on a case by case basis:

<u>Pete Rose</u>- will go down in history as one of the greatest players ever to play the game; to those who remember him. He won't be in the HOF, so there will be no reminders of his contributions to the sport besides a "story" that gets handed down through the generations (or until they make a movie about him like Shoeless Joe).


Because he alledgedly wagered on the game, when he was NOT EVEN A PLAYER. The Federal Government probably wouldn't give that big of a punishment for something that was never proved. There is tons more to that story, but we'll save that for another post.

<u>Darryl Strawberry</u>- Probably could have been remembered as one of the greatest hitters, but chances are he won't make the HOF either. He messed up again and again; drugs, tax evasion, spousal abuse, yadda yadda.

The Federal Government would usually punish someone for all of the aforementioned things, but not baseball. Darryl has received countless chances, and still has never been BANNED from the game FOR LIFE.

<u>John Rocker</u>- Probably won't make the HOF, not because of anything he did, but he's just not that good. He says things that infuriate a nation, and gets a LOUSY $500 fine and a few weeks suspension.

Would the Fed. do anything to a normal citizen who said what Rocker said? Probably not. But I personally view what he said as HUNDREDS of times worse than what Pete Rose alledgedly did.

See what I mean? None of the punishments equal each other in severity relating to the crimes, nor the actual crimes compare to the actual punishments.

From that standpoint, I would not want to play baseball, because I'd be afraid of getting the electric chair for locking my keys in my car.


Ansky39's Neighbor's Best Friend's 9th Cousin, Twice Removed.

03-10-00, 08:19 PM
I really believe STRAWBERRY is sincere, he just cannot get it and hold on to it. HE will get it someday hopefully, it's a strong addiction that can suck you dry and keep on doing it like a merry go round. I felt the same way about STEVE HOWE, it's real easy for these reporters and talk show's to make fun and critcize and be very opinionated, but this is his life, a baseball player is a human also, I am pulling for THE STRAW very much, hopefully he can get it before it get's him. I AM speaking for the STRAW MAN, i've been thinking of him alot lately. MAFIA.


03-10-00, 10:43 PM
lets look at this logically. of course baseball cannot punish you the same way that the government can. think about it, what's the worst that can happen to you? banned for life. suspensions and fines obviously don't teach anybody much, the same stuff goes on even after the suspensions and fines are handed out. but, some "crimes" are hard to punish. take rocker, you can't punish ignorance. whether baseball or the government tries to, its all freedom of speech. what he said was not right, but he can say it. as for strawberry, well some of his actions should be punished. the government can punish him for tax evasion. but there is not much baseball can do with that. as for his addictions, you can't punish that. addiction is a disease, it needs to be treated. punishing the person does not help them, trust me. is that an excuse? no, but i could go on and on about addiction and how it affects people's lives, but i'll spare you. i just did a paper for school on how baseball should have stiffer punishments for players and their actions on and off the field. from everything i read, it seems as if a lot of talking is done, but no new rules or regulations are implemented. i agree, baseball players should be issued stiffer penalties for their wrong doings, but what should be done?

bthl's #1 fan
pres. of the bthl fan club

I am sad to see you go but keep your hopes up and something good will happen to you. Don't go out there not knowing what you want or people will take advantage of you, so take charge and be on your merry way.
CB 6/99

03-10-00, 11:03 PM
I think John Rocker is an obnoxious jerk, but not because of his SI comments. Guess what, there ARE skanks on the subway, of all races, colors and walks of life. The scariest part of the whole Rocker thing, to me, was him being banned. He spoke his mind, whether one agrees or not, and he was punished for it. Bottom line: unconstitutional. The "masses" spoke and MLB overreacted. I couldn't believe it, here we are, the year 2000, and the Daily News "Rocker" headlines were tantamount to yellow journalism. The crap that's passed off for news, and the people that are quoted and made much of: Al Sharpton, John Rocker, Puff Daddy.

And then Darryl and Rocker not being good "role models". Well, if you, as a parent, are not enough of a role model to raise your kids, don't look to someone else to do it. If we expect kids to look to an image on a screen, or in a ballpark, as role models for our own children, that's pretty sad. Which is not to say that public figures are not good people, but we shouldn't base our lives on their behavior for cripes sake.

Bottom line: Rocker can be ignored after shooting off his mouth, and Darryl should get help with the full support of the Yankee organization and the fans.


Official Bouncer - Ansky39 Fan Club.

"I love baseball."
- Roy Hobbs

"If they ask, 'who was our star?', give them 25 names..and if you forget our names, just tell them we were Yankees......"

03-10-00, 11:27 PM
It's not necessarily about "stiffer" penalties, it's about equal penalties.


Ansky39's Neighbor's Best Friend's 9th Cousin, Twice Removed.

03-10-00, 11:35 PM
maybe not, but how are you going to find a common ground between politics and baseball? i'm sure there's one somewhere, but i think its baseball's responsibility to punish their players. but the players need to realize a few things themselves. they need to remember that to some people they are role models and that their actions affect other people besides themselves. stiffer, harsher, equal, whatever you want to call it, something needs to be done.

bthl's #1 fan
pres. of the bthl fan club

I am sad to see you go but keep your hopes up and something good will happen to you. Don't go out there not knowing what you want or people will take advantage of you, so take charge and be on your merry way.
CB 6/99

03-11-00, 12:19 AM
I'm not trying to find a common ground between politics and baseball, I'm saying that Baseball needs to re-evaluate their punishments, because when you look at Rose, Straw, and Rocker, compare what they did to what they got punished for. They are all very un-uniformed. In other words, there is no relation of stiff penalties to stiff "crimes".


Ansky39's Neighbor's Best Friend's 9th Cousin, Twice Removed.

03-11-00, 12:29 AM
i agree baseball needs to take a better look at their punishments. most punishments don't fit whatever the player did. but in some cases you are trying to punish things that are impossible to punish. you can't punish ignorance (rocker), or addiction (straw), or gambling (rose). can you try to make an example out of those, sure. but in the end whatever fine or suspension they are given really doesn't teach anyone a lesson. in most cases, they get to put the uniform back on and play ball. is it fair? in some cases it is, and in some it isn't. but that is life, its not always fair.

bthl's #1 fan
pres. of the bthl fan club

I am sad to see you go but keep your hopes up and something good will happen to you. Don't go out there not knowing what you want or people will take advantage of you, so take charge and be on your merry way.
CB 6/99

03-11-00, 01:55 PM
i agree with what you said seahorse. whatever mlb does in wake of an incident doesn't resolve anything. it usually leaves someone upset, whether it be a player or a fan. as you said, you can't punish addiction. one of the hardest part for straw will be facing his family and teammates and asking them to support, and to a certain extent, forgive him, again. the hardest part will be if someone asks him why does he do it. he might not have an answer for that. as for rocker, i think he's beginning to understand how much impact he had. the toughtest part for these guys will be living with who they are and what they did. they have to publically as well as privately justify what happened. and honestly, that will hopefully make more of an impact on them than any fine or suspension mlb will give them.

bthl's #1 fan
pres. of the bthl fan club

I am sad to see you go but keep your hopes up and something good will happen to you. Don't go out there not knowing what you want or people will take advantage of you, so take charge and be on your merry way.
CB 6/99

03-11-00, 04:40 PM
HATE CRIMES, HATE CRIMES I think is the most absurd law in this country,, and I will tell you why. I do not like the goverment telling me who I should like and not, and then taking my personal opinions and tell me you can't think like that thats wrong! WELL I have met plenty of people and associates in my life, most of them I got along with, and of course there were plenty I disliked, and the one's I could not stand were personality problems , I have learned to keep most of my opinions to myself these day's as I do not trust nobody not that I did before considering where I come from. ROCKER can think what he wants, but he was a moron for saying what he said in an interview for 7 hours, this guy I would not like if I met him in person, why? HE'S got a big mouth and does not know when to keep it shut, just plain stupidity.


03-11-00, 07:18 PM
Hate crime? Rocker didn't commit a hate crime! He voiced his opinion, that's all! I wish people would just admit their prejudices out in the open. I am definitely prejudiced. There are groups of people I definitely don't like. I don't like shanty Irish, or white trash, or low-class blacks or hispanics, and I also would not want to ride the #4 rubbing elbows with an AIDS-riddled addict. I don't like seeing sections of the Bronx and Washington Heights that used to be nice neighborhoods turned into lowclass neighborhoods with tacky painted storefronts and music blaring. So sue me. I'd rather sit next to Straw or Rocker ANY day. I would kill anyone who hurt the black and hispanic friends I have, but I am so sick of touchy-feely political correctness. This Rocker thing was absolutely blown out of proportion. He opened his mouth and said what he thought. Did someone re-write the Constitution? I must've missed it.

And the Straw thing too. The man is an incredible physical specimen, played his heart out every day he played. If alot of us in here were told by our jobs that we couldn't ever smoke or drink ever again because it's now office policy that no "crutches" of any kind are allowed, and out of 365 days of a year, you decided to cheat, oh, 4 times say. But you got caught. Weren't you told that you can't ever smoke or drink again? What's wrong with you? What were you thinking?.......Straw happened to pick an illegal addiction. The rest of will enjoy that after-dinner cigarette that we MUST have, or the cocktail at night that you're dying for, it's been SUCH a crappy day.......

And then we have the nerve to point accusing fingers.....cripes.


Official Bouncer - Ansky39 Fan Club.

"I love baseball."
- Roy Hobbs

"If they ask, 'who was our star?', give them 25 names..and if you forget our names, just tell them we were Yankees......"

03-11-00, 07:50 PM
Can't argue with you there, NYI.


03-11-00, 11:25 PM
My point is; how can baseball hold itself out as a policing entity? There are no laws by the government, nor can there be, on addiction. Addiction is not a crime. There are laws however against hate crimes which is what Rocker is guilty of. And as Jim said the "punishments" are rediculously arbitrary. MLB hurts the players, the teams, the fans, and doesn't accomplish anything beyond that.

Best GoYanks!

[This message has been edited by seahorse (edited March 11, 2000).]

03-12-00, 07:13 AM
I know you're all out there wondering "What do you suppose clipper thinks about this one?" Well, since you asked:

-- Rocker: Obviously the state can do nothing here. He's got a first amendment right to say what he wants to say. There can be no laws against being obnoxious (thank God - else I'd be locked up).

Baseball felt a need to take a stand on the issue, however. I understand that they wanted to express outrage, and let the world know that they don't approve of his opinions.

I think they knew from the start that if the MLBPA wanted to fight it (on the grounds that the CBA's clause regarding off-field conduct does not apply to speech) that the penalty would be significantly reduced. I think they felt that they could assign a big penalty, and look like they'd taken the high road against intolerance, and that the Player's Association would look (to most of the world) like the bad guy for defending Rocker. To a large degree, I think their strategy worked as they intended: Rocker will get a small penalty, but baseball can look on with righteous indignation, without having actually done anything.

I have no great problem with this, by the way. Rocker gets no meaningful penalty, except a significant loss of future revenues as a result of a tarnished image. Even if he becomes a great pitcher (which I don't see happening) he won't be doing a lot of those "Got Milk?" commercials with Cal Ripken.

-- Strawberry: Those who have said that there are no laaws against addiction are, of course, correct. There are, however, laws against possession of certain controlled substances, one of which is Cocaine. The criminal justice system has cut this guy some serious slack as a result of his vocation.

Baseball's CBA, on the other hand DOES have specific language related to the use of illegal drugs. The MLBPA was part of the negotiations of these rules; they are not simply arbitrary. In fact, Darryl has been cut a fair amount of slack here, too. I don't think Darryl is telling anyone that he's been treated unfairly by MLB.

Baseball has an obligation to defend itself from the scourge of drugs. Does anyone remember the Pittsburgh scandal in the '80s? Like it or not, the players are role models; that position carries certain obligations. Darryl knew the rules, and chose to break them. It's tragic, but that doesn't mean he should be cut further slack.

What does it say to the public, by the way, when ballplayers get to keep playing, and others with similar "problems" get to spend time behind bars?

-- Rose: As far as I'm concerned, he committed the ONE unpardonable sin in professional sports. Many say that he should admit what he did, get treatment, and apologize. I don't care what he does. He can walk on his knees from Canterbury to Westminster Abbey (historical reference) and it will not change the fact that he did the UNFORGIVABLE. He's all done.

He, along with Shoeless Joe Jackson can be remembered as great baseball players who crossed the ONE line you're not allowed to cross. Once that bell has been rung, there's no way to un-ring it. Sorry.

Sorry for the length of this message, but you know how I get on this one.

"Does Coggins look like Bonds?" - Bill White 1975

03-12-00, 11:31 PM
Well that answers my question. I'm glad I asked. Thanks Clipper. I'm not sure of all the ramifications of the Rose situation - if he bet on games he played in, or if that matters. I suppose the other two situations are more cut and dried than I thought. What's for dinner?

Best GoYanks!