Former MLB Pitcher John Rocker: Steroids Made Baseball "a Better Game" for Fans and Players


Personally, I thought baseball was insufferably boring either way.
Foter, OneTigerFan

In a radio interview yesterday, John Rocker, a retired MLB relief pitcher, said he thanks that steroids make for better baseball. 

"I think it was a better game," he said about the days before the MLB cracked down.

Rocker spoke with 92.3 The Fan, a sports station based in Cleveland. The hosts, who described Rocker as "the best closer in the game" during his career, quickly turned their questions to the issue of steroid use. Rocker, who did stints from 1998 to 2003 with the Braves, Indians, Rangers, and Rays, has spoken openly over the last few years about his personal experiences using performance enhancing drugs.

"Do you think [steroids] should be legal for everybody and it should be a player's choice?" the radio hosts asked Rocker.

"I think they should be," Rocker answered.

He talked about his own experience. "I'm paid to get [a batter] out, and win pennants for my team, and keep my job, and feed my family," Rocker said. Using steroids to succeed "was almost keep [sic] up with the joneses." 

The retiree said that players juiced not only for themselves, but for the sake of the fans. You're paying to be entertained," Rocker said. "At the end of the day when people are paying their $80, $120… to buy their ticket and come watch that game, it's almost like the circus is in town.. They want to see some clown throw a fastball 101 mph and some other guy hit it 500 feet. That's entertainment."

Rocker dismissed the idea that it's even possible to effectively ban or test for performance enhancing drugs. "There are over fifty thousand steroid combinations in existence. You can go into a lab… offshore and get a chemist to build you a steroid… The best test out there, the ones the Olympics use, can only test for five hundred molecular combinations."

He did acknowledge that there is was an "ethical side of things, and that "lying and cheating" in baseball has cultivated a sense of skepticism around stand-out players.

Rocker said he does not miss playing, and that the "real passion of [his] heart" is Save Homeless Veterans, for which he is the Director of Public Affairs.

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  1. As a Braves fan, I can attest to him being a great closer, no doubt.

    1. I actually rooted for the Braves to go all the way last year for Chipper’s sake. But Marco Scutaro getting his due was a good consolation prize.

      1. I loved the 90s Braves. They were my team growing up (no Rays back then, remember), but even besides that, I really liked their style of play. Still can’t get over, to this day, Chicago giving them Greg Maddux.

        1. Chicago didn’t give them Maddux, he left in FA because the Cubs are incompetent and the Tribune company is cheap.

          I was about 9 when that happened. My dreams of uniting Bonds and Maddux on the Yanks were thwarted and I couldn’t understand why. It’s not like the Yankees were rebuilding or anything.

          1. Oh, I remember how it happened. Like I said, a gift.

    2. Not too on topic, but I just purchased some tickets to the Pats-Bucs preseason game as part of a presale package.

      Actually, I tried to get tickets for the Bucs regular season game, but there weren’t multiple tickets available. I did, however, manage to pick up 4 Browns seats pretty much wherever I want.

      1. There’s some kind of unclean friendship between the coaches. They’ve done joint practices or something foul like that.

        1. Yeah, they are doing it again this year, which is really odd since they actually play each other this year too.

          Only 2 weeks to camp… Only 2 weeks to camp… [rocks in corner]

        1. Oh boy! Somebody did follow through!

          I’m more excited that a Browns fan seeing a first down.

          1. I should wait to mention it in the PM links. I know there are some Browns fans on here that will enjoy seeing that (again).

            1. I’m sure some brave soul will do that for you.

            2. How about you, sloop? What have you provided in your Last Will & Testament regarding your funeral arrangements?

              Burial in a horse-shoe shaped coffin?

              Cremation ceremony entitled, “Three Yards and a Cloud of Angel Dust”?

  2. Also, the steroid boost helps stave off queers with AIDS and kids with purple hair on the 7 train.

    1. I’ve never understood why that was so much worse than calling people bitter clingers.

      1. Both are unfortunate statements, but only one attacked a protected class.

        1. I like to accuse NYC types who make stereotypical comments about the South/Midwest as sounding a lot like John Rocker. Some of them really get irritated.

          1. Its not limited to NYC types. How about New England and the I-95 Northeast corridor?

            The type of people who think that if one criticizes saint Abraham, one is a neo-confederate.

            The type of people who hate Brett Favre because he is from Mississippi.

          2. Funny thing about Rocker is that he also made stereotypical comments about Chipper because comes from a redneck Florida cracker background, whereas Rocker grew up more upper middle class in Macon.

            The proper comparison for Rocker isn’t a stereotypical uneducated redneck, it’s a stereotypical Lucille Bluth-esque WASP.

  3. Zenon?! Cousin to the dictator of the Galactic Confederacy, I bet!

    1. Wait, what? Zenon is related to Xenu?

    2. I assume his big brother is the Patriots’ punter.

  4. I forgot about Rocker. That guy was funny. I loved how he woudl come charging out of the bullpen like he was going to kick someone’s ass (or possibly everyone’s).

    And I kind of agree with him. Baseball was more entertaining with more big hits and pitchers throwing more fast pitches. Or I think it was. I mostly stopped watching baseball before the steroids scandals went down.

    1. As did I. That motherfucker Pete Rose* and his gambling killed the game for me for quite some time.

      *My hero as a kid. I drove past a place in Franklin, OH called Jonathan’s Cafe every morning on my way to school, only to see his Lambo with 4192 on the plates sitting out front half the time. Everyone in town knew what he was doing in that place, but it still broke my heart when he fell from grace. Admitting that he bet on baseball just made me tune out completely.

  5. Um, he’s 100% right. Baseball was at its peak during the steroid era. It’s the only thing that kept mediocre players at a high enough level to prop up the diluted talent base.

    If you want exciting MLB action without steroids, you probably need to cut the league by about 8 teams.

    1. I hated the crazy hitting of the (more) steroid era. Fuck, why not just put some robots out there to hit the ball into orbit?

      1. Because that would be stupid.

        1. You may be making my argument for me.

          1. How about Big Papi tying Harold Baines for most career hits as a DH last night?

            To paraphrase himself, Ortiz said, “Its [my] fucking [position]”.

    2. More offense isn’t going to make baseball more exciting. They need to speed up the pace of play. Enforce that 12 seconds between pitches rule and the game is a lot more interesting just like that.

      1. More offense, no. More offensive power, yes. Especially when coupled with pitcher after pitcher throwing 100 mph gas. That’s what made it more fun for me.

        They need to get rid of the DH and get a more uniform strike zone, speed up play a little bit and sit back and collect the extra money that will come pouring in from TV.

        But I prefer games live, so the pace of play is fine by me.

        1. They can’t do a more uniform strike zone! If they use image processing techniques it will remove the human element from determining whether a ball was in a predefined area or not!

          1. It’s morally impossible!

            For those who love offense so much, why not nine DHs? Offense, defense, just like football.

      2. I don’t want baseball to be more exciting. The slow pace is part of why I like it more than other popular American team sports.

      3. But but but, think of what that will do to Yankees/Red Sox [sic] games!

      4. More offense isn’t going to make baseball more exciting. They need to speed up the pace of play. Enforce that 12 seconds between pitches rule and the game is a lot more interesting just like that.

        There was a Grantland article the other day talking about the extended-innings bruiser between Marichal and Spahn that went about 4.5 hours. Christ, that’s damn near an average game these days.

    3. Diluted talent base? The diluted, enormously expanded talent base?

    4. If you want exciting MLB action without steroids, you probably need to cut the league by about 8 teams

      Expansion’s been horrible for the overall quality of play. The teams have no real depth anymore, so if one guy gets hurt, teams are stuck with AAAA-quality players that probably wouldn’t have made a major league roster 25 years ago. I don’t know if eight teams would really be the solution, but you could probably get rid of the Marlins, Rockies, Pirates, and Diamondbacks (just as an example) and that would certainly help matters.

      1. We should get rid of two first place teams? The hell?

        Baseball is actually the sport that would be best served by going to a relegation system because the contention cycles are so long. It gives the fans of the lesser teams something to root for and, with its huge farm system, opportunity to expand as the country does. I’d like to see a 2 – 3 tier system with the draft eliminated and the high minors spun off into independent franchises.

        1. And change each level to two 12-team with two divisions each and balanced schedules. One playoff round for division heads, another for division failures, then a World Series and a Relegation Series. You would have to make realignment a possibility every year based upon promotions for logistic reasons, too.

        2. We should get rid of two first place teams? The hell?

          Well, it was just an example, but let’s face it–Pittsburgh’s been a shit team for years, a modern-day Washington Senators.

          Christ, both the Florida teams perennially have horrible attendance. What’s the point of having teams that no one wants to see unless they happen to make it to the World Series?

  6. There’s not a pc bone in John Rockers body. It was funny watching the sports reporting community go berserk over his comments. I think the sports pc police are the worst of them all.

    1. Indeed, James, they are.

    2. Some UFC fighter recently got in trouble for saying trannies shouldn’t be allowed to fight women. It’s like the pc police flip a coin to figure out which side is wonderful and which side is worse than Hitler.

  7. Hasn’t he officially changed his name to Kenny Powers yet?

  8. I guess I have mixed feelings about the steroid era. Sure, I remember being wowed by McGwire and Sosa, then being completely blown away when Bonds broke the new record just a few seasons later.

    On the other hand, all those home runs kind of cheapened certain “magic numbers.” I mean, Hank Fucking Aaron never hit 50 home runs in a single season. But in the 1990s and early 2000s, you had 50-homer seasons by players like Brady Anderson and Luis Gonzalez.

    And even though I mentioned I thought Bonds’ 73-homer season was awesome, I’m not sure if I like the fact that he also now holds the career home run record.

  9. Bring back Mark “The Bird” Fidrych from the dead, and let’s have some fucking ONE HOUR, HOUR AND A HALF GAMES, for fuck’s sake.

    THAT dude “Rockered” the world in the 70’s. Make the game faster, stop scratching your balls – well, just scratch them every OTHER pitch.

    Fucking baseball. FUCK YOU!

  10. Also, I fucking LOVED John Rocker. More power to him.

    Goddamned hippies anyway.

  11. What John Rocker THINKS doesn’t matter.

    Ticket sales and tv ratings back him up. But MLB doesn’t care, and perhaps rightly so, as they have been able to make more money from its core fans (MLB.TV for example) that more than makes up for the lost revenue from the casual, fickle fan.

  12. Baseball is always at its best when the stolen base is a viable strategy. When power dominates and OBPs are through the roof, the SB is far less valuable and the attempt is generally not worth the risk.

    I don’t care for Selig’s lame-duck attempts to lynch Rodriguez and Braun over their use of PEDs, but a game that’s less station to station is certainly more exciting for me, and private industry has every right to put whatever restrictions it wants on its participants, particularly when those restrictions make for a subjectively better experience for the paying customer.

  13. I don’t know if he was the best, but there was a time when he was an absolute beast for the Braves. I was always looking for an explanation for why his play dropped off after the controversy; maybe he was unable to take steroids under the new scrutiny.

  14. I’m glad he’s doing something good these days, and being candid about everything. Some people will only remember him for impulsively xenophobic statements that got him sent to Toledo.

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