Rocker:'I'm getting on the 7 train'

Wednesday, June 21st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) — John Rocker doesn't plan to hide from the New Yorkers he insulted last year. He's going to commute with them.

``The first day I get to New York, I'm getting on the (No.) 7 train,'' the Atlanta Braves reliever told USA Today Baseball Weekly, which hit the newsstands Wednesday. ``I'm taking it to Shea Stadium. I won't be in a cab. I won't be on the bus. I'll be on that train.

``And I'm looking forward to it.''

Rocker said he won't initiate any conversations with people on the train, ``but if someone wants to talk to me, that's fine.''

It was that same subway line that Rocker insulted in an interview with Sports Illustrated last December.

``Imagine having to take the 7 train 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.

``The biggest thing I don't like about New York are the foreigners,'' Rocker said in the Sports Illustrated interview. ``You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?''

In the Baseball Weekly article, Rocker said those slurs were ``meant as a joke.''

After the story came out, Rocker was suspended for a month and fined $20,000 by commissioner Bud Selig. The players association appealed, and an arbitrator reduced the penalty to a two-week suspension and $500 fine.

The Braves also fined Rocker $5,000 last month for threatening the Sports Illustrated reporter who wrote the story revealing Rocker's offensive comments about gays, minorities and foreigners.

Rocker was sent down to the minors the following day, but was recalled last week when Rudy Seanez tore a ligament in his right arm.

New Yorkers are poised for Rocker's return to the city June 29 for a four-game series with the Mets. Rocker is also looking forward to it.

``I'm not scared, I'm not intimidated in the least,'' he said. ``Come on, what are they going to do to me but boo me? I hope they do.

``The worst thing they could do to me there is have no reaction. No reaction at all. ... I'd hate that.

``I want to get booed. That fires me up. Look at what happened last year in New York. I didn't give up an earned run at Shea or Yankee Stadium in the playoffs. Those people bring out the best in me.''