Triumph of the therapeutic comes to baseball

John Rocker, once the fireballing closer for the Atlanta Braves, hated coming to Queens, NY, to play the Mets before their raucous urban fans. To reporters he said nasty things about NYC gays, about what might happen to him if he took Mets' fans' beloved number 7 train — and he had earlier called an African American player "a fat monkey." You can well imagine what the New York tabloids did with this — and that, in turn, made Mets' fans at Shea louder still — and all this in a September pennant race.

What interested me at the time was that baseball officialdom assumed that the problem was psychological and that what Rocker needed was therapy. The triumph of the therapeutic — there are no real political problems; there are only psychological adjustments that need to be made in individuals — comes to baseball. Rocker was a die-hard southern conservative, replete with fears of northern cities and the racism and homophobia that either go along with that or are its source.

From the New York Times: "Last week, Selig, the baseball commissioner, ordered Rocker to undergo a psychological evaluation in the wake of disparaging comments he made about minorities and gays in an article in Sports Illustrated. He ripped teenagers with purple hair, called an African-American teammate a fat monkey and made racial and homophobic slurs about New Yorkers. The tests were ordered Thursday. Rocker visited psychologists on Friday and then left for a hunting trip in Arkansas. But in ordering psychological tests, Selig may have stumbled upon the beginning of a path to slay the wrenching beast of prejudice, intolerance, bigotry. Selig equated racism and bigotry to a psychological disorder to be confronted and wrestled with — not to be shunted in a closet and hidden."

My favorite line here: Rocker goes to therapy and then off to his hunting trip in Arkansas, where, presumably, his hunting colleagues will reinforce the values of acceptance of diffrence and a love of urban culture.

Here is a link to two Times articles from 2000.