Twelve years after a magazine article that turned him from a rising star into a controversial bad boy, John Rocker says he's still trying to explain himself.
The former Atlanta Braves reliever has co-written a book, "Scars and Strikes" that mixes baseball memories with his political and social opinions.
Rocker says he's written the book partly in response to a 1999 Sports Illustrated article that he says ruined his good name forever.
Interviewed during Eyewitness News at 6 Wednesday, he referred to the old proverb that says "Don't pick up fight with a guy who buys ink by the truckload."
He told 13WMAZ's Frank Malloy, "I decided to buy my own truck."
The December 1999 article in Sports Illustrated included quotes like these from Rocker:
•On ever playing for a New York team: "I would retire first. It's the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the [Number] 7 train to the ballpark, looking like you're [riding through] Beirut next to some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing."
•On New York City itself: "The biggest thing I don't like about New York are the foreigners. I'm not a very big fan of foreigners. 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?"
Rocker writes that "I admittedly made comments... that would make even the most foulmouthed racist blush."
He adds, "In the midst of lengthy discussion I did say,"One of the things I don't like about New York City are the foreigners." As well as "I'm not a very big fan of foreigners..."
But Rocker told 13WMAZ that those comments were taken out of context.
He says they were made during a more than 10-hour conversation with Sports Illustrated reporter Steve Pearlman that touched on "immigration reform to fiscal policy to all kinds of things."
Rocker says he wrote the book with J. Marshall Craig to add "meat" and context to those statements.
Some of the "meat" according to Rocker:
"The media have declared themselves judge, jury and executioner in the world of free speech and political correctness, and if you offer up an opinion they don't agree with, rest assured they are going to put the crosshairs right on you."
Arguing that Americans' rights are being taken away due to the war on terror: "You know what? We lost (technically). The terrorists have won. My nation is no longer free."
He says he's not against immigrants, but against those who fail to assimilate in the United States and exploit our system: "While many immigrants arrive in this country eager to work and build a better life, thousands of foreigners cross our borders each day with intentions to exploit the many taxpayer-funded government social programs such as medical care, social security, welfare, and free housing."
He doesn't think immigrants should be required to speak English, but says they should be encouraged to.
Talking baseball, Rocker has praise for Braves manager Bobby Cox and former Yankees manager Joe Torre, and many of his teammates.
But not for baseball commissioner Bud Selig, whom he calls "a true cretin," "idiot," "head dummy," and a "moron of extreme proportions."
Selig suspended Rocker in 2000 for his comments in the Sports Illustrated article.
Rocker says he wrote at least 98 percent of the book, over a year's time.
"These are John Rocker's words, these are my thoughts, these are my opinions."
His publicist says Rocker's "Scars and Strikes" is available online and in bookstores next week.