Fans to Rocker: Watch Subway Doors

Thursday, June 22nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) — Riders on the No. 7 train Wednesday offered a bit of advice to loudmouth lefty John Rocker, who intends to ride the subway next week: Watch the closing doors, John. Watch 'em ve-r-r-r-y carefully.

``Yeah, let him ride,'' said Wendy Strauss as she rode the No. 7 train to play tennis at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Center, directly across from Shea Stadium. ``Good luck to him. He'll definitely be hassled.''

Robert Illa, standing at the Shea Stadium stop Wednesday morning, wondered if the pitcher's promise to ride the line — the one that he vilified in an interview with Sports Illustrated — was just bravado. Rocker and the Atlanta Braves come to New York on June 29 to face the Mets.

``I don't think he has the guts to get on this train,'' Illa said. ``This isn't Atlanta. He may be able to pull this stuff down south, but this is New York.''

Rocker, in an interview with USA Today Baseball Weekly, said he planned to ride the No. 7 train through Queens next week and entertain questions from straphangers.

``I'm taking it to Shea Stadium,'' said Mets fans' public enemy No. 1. ``I won't be in a cab. I won't be on the bus. I'll be on that train.''

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said he hopes Rocker reconsiders his idea to ride the subway.

``We're trying to prevail upon the Atlanta Braves for this not to happen,'' Giuliani told WFAN radio.

Giuliani said he expects a ``tremendous'' police presence for Rocker, estimating 450-500 officers working in connection with the visit.

``Obviously, there's going to be more security,'' Giuliani said. ``And I could begin now by urging New Yorkers to have a counterintuitive response and that is just be nice. No matter what he's said or the way he's acted, whatever you think of it, the best reaction to his action is to be classy.''

Even before his rant in Sports Illustrated, Rocker had annoyed Mets' fans by describing them as ``stupid'' and ``a tired act.''

In the magazine interview, he said: ``Imagine having to take the 7 train to (Shea Stadium) looking like you're (in) Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing.''

What else bothered Rocker about the Big Apple? ``The foreigners,'' he said. ``You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. ... How the hell did they get into this country?''

In the case of Syed Munawar from Bangladesh, he got a visa to study microbiology at Rutgers University. Munawar, not a big baseball fan, needed a briefing on the whole Rocker story before offering his take.

``If he's riding the 7 train, I think it means that he has realized what he has done wrong,'' Munawar said. ``I'd welcome him because you shouldn't return hate with hate. It's like biting the dog that bit you.

``It generates nothing.''