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Home » Baseball

Off His Rocker

Submitted by on December 16, 1999 – 1:14 PMNo Comment

For four years in college, I had to listen to kids who didn’t know Cape May from Port Elizabeth spout a bunch of ignorant bushwa about how much New Jersey sucked. Everything they knew about the state they’d based on what they’d seen from the window of the Airporter, or on movies that tended to conflate New Jersey and Long Island. Meeting me for the first time, my classmates would marvel, in tones that implied I’d bravely risen above a particularly ruinous birth defect, “Wow, you don’t have that accent at all, or that, um, hair.” I can’t even count the number of times I rolled my eyes before sighing, “Exit 14, wise guy.”

Now that I’ve moved to New York, I have to deal with even wilder and more frequent misconceptions about the place I call home. More than a few of the Biscuit’s law-school friends seem to believe that I live at the corner of 34th Street and Sodom, bedeviled on a daily basis by shoot-outs and car chases gone awry and hand-to-hand combat at the ATM, in a neighborhood peopled by throwing-star-wielding dominatrices in Kevlar harnesses and grubby criminal-minded folk whose sole vocabulary consists of the threatening phrase “what are you looking at?” Of course, the Biscuit’s friends don’t say it in so many words, but every time I appear at a party, they exclaim, “Sarah! You’ve come from New York!” as though I’d recently completed a stark-naked tour of downtown Beirut with the words “Lebanon Bites The Big One” written on my ass in Magic Marker. I keep thinking that word of New York’s transformation into a safer, cleaner, family-friendlier city would have spread by now, but people who have never spent any real time in the city persist in thinking of it as a cartoonishly violent and perverted video game, Tekken 4 via David Lynch.

Now we can add Atlanta Braves relief pitcher and born diplomat John “Neck-Free” Rocker to the list of morons who feel qualified to condemn New York City as a pit of hell. As you may have heard, Rocker shot his mouth off in a recent issue of Sports Illustrated, and his astonishingly unconsidered remarks made top-of-the-hour news on local stations and inspired Mayor Giuliani to call for his unconditional release from the Braves; rank-and-file New Yorkers settled for revising their opinions of Rocker from “asshole” to “fucking ignorant asshole.” When the story hit the airwaves, I hadn’t read the article, but I remembered Rocker from the post-season, when he’d made equally uninformed and dangerous comments about the poor quality of New York sports fans. I couldn’t wait to see the article for myself, and as soon as I arrived home at my parents’ house on Christmas Eve, I settled down with a sandwich and my dad’s copy of SI.

My brother and I read it together, snatching it back and forth from one another while eating lunch, and we couldn’t believe our eyes. I know people have bigoted thoughts and wrong ideas; I don’t live under a rock. But I didn’t know that a man who spends a decent amount of time in the public eye could possibly think that making racist and homophobic comments constitutes anything resembling a good idea. I mean, not only did Rocker say these things to a reporter, but the reporter must have gone back to quote-check the piece with Rocker, and yet all those inappropriate remarks still wound up going to press. (For the record, Rocker accused Asian women of not knowing how to drive; said he would never play for the Mets because he would have to ride the subway next to “some queer with AIDS,” twenty-year-old women with their four children, and various other people of objectionable ethnicities; and admitted that he doesn’t like “foreigners.”) I can’t imagine what, if anything, went through Rocker’s head when he said these things in the presence of an operating tape recorder, and frankly, I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know how it happens that, at the end of 1999, people still walk the earth believing that they can “git the AIDS” by sitting next to someone.

So, Rocker hates New York. I have a few problems with the city myself, but then, I live here. I know the city. I don’t take kindly to a redneck jockstrap with an attitude problem insulting my home, especially when he doesn’t live here or know thing one about the place, and I really really hate it when people with prejudiced agendas equate New York City with Babylon and use that as an excuse to spew a bunch of biased crap. I hate the city too sometimes, but certainly not because non-white, non-straight people have had the gall to settle here also. You know, Mr. Rocker, if you truly believe that New York is a pit of sin, and you don’t want to walk through Chelsea in case one of the cuties at the Big Cup pushes your homosexual-panic button, and you still view skin color as an accurate indicator of relative worth, and you think folks from other countries contribute nothing to American society but a drain on federal resources so you go around muttering, “You wanna live here on my tax dollar, learn the freakin’ language,” then, well, maybe you shouldn’t live in New York. Maybe you should take your big old signing bonus and build yourself a big old gated house in the hills of Peoria, or wherever you think gay people and black people and those tarn-fool wild-driving Asian people don’t live, and lock your big old cracker ass in there with a stack of White Guys Rule magazines, and a big old roll of tin-foil so you can line your little helmet, and a big old antenna so that you don’t miss a single word Bob Grant has to say. Maybe you should get on that bus with Ratso Rizzo before you get your ass kicked. Because you will get your ass kicked, I assure you.

New York City isn’t for everyone. If you don’t want to live here, you don’t have to. If you don’t want to associate with people different from you, you don’t have to. But don’t talk a bunch of shit about New York City and expect New Yorkers to feel all chastened by your righteous wrath or whatever, because nobody asked for your opinion on the city, or on the fans, or on anything else, really. We live here, we like it, and we get way tired of hearing dolts who have spent all of ten minutes changing planes at Kennedy Airport blathering on about rude New Yorkers this, in-a-hurry New Yorkers that, pushy and loud New Yorkers the other thing, so listen up, Neckless Mahoney. Harshing on New York in a national magazine doesn’t make you a big man, and it doesn’t mean you’ve got stones, either. It makes you a meatball, and it means that you’ve pissed off the rabid and violent New York fans about whom you’ve pissed and moaned so publicly, not to mention ensured that we all know what you look like, the better to rain glassware and rotten vegetables on your empty head the next time you come to town with the Braves. So come on down, Johnny. Come ride the subway. We dare you.

No? I didn’t think so. So shut up.

See for yourself.

Keep following the aftermath.

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