John Rocker wants you to give a shit, because he's got a book coming out. It makes a perfect Christmas present for someone you hate, but is not appropriate as a gift for Eid or Diwali because John Rocker doesn't want brown people currency. To drum up interest for the book, Rocker's doing the interview circuit, and in a chat with NY Baseball Digest's Mike Silva, he copped to using PEDs during his Braves days.
At the time, MLB didn't have a formal testing process, and Rocker implies that he was singled out for testing because of the infamous Sports Illustrated article. He dodged the test three times, and on the fourth, he "failed it miserably."
"Yeah, of course I was [taking steroids]. I mean who wasn't? Let's be honest here, who wasn't?"
I asked Rocker if he became a good pitcher because of PED use. "No. Can I throw 3 or 4 mph harder because of it? Yes. Was my breaking ball better because of it? No. The reason [for taking them] was, with my teammates and their confidence laying on my shoulders, with the coaching staff and their confidence on my shoulders, with the millions of Atlanta Braves fans, I am not going to step on that mound with that kind of responsibility with my gun half loaded. Knowing the people I am going to be facing, I know what they're doing; I am not coming to the mound halfcocked."
Rocker's gone back and forth on this over the years. In 2007, when he was named in conjunction with a steroid dealing ring, he claimed he had only used HGH as he rehabbed from surgery, and maintained that "less than 10 percent" of MLB players were using steroids. A year later he upped that figure to "40 to 50 percent," and copped to a positive test in 2000, although he would quickly backtrack on allegations that MLB doctors instructed him on how to use steroids properly.
The real takeaway from this is Rocker's startlingly perceptive motivations for using—wisdom of a fool, and all that. He was under pressure to perform, and if PEDs didn't help his performance, they certainly couldn't hurt. Remember, pro athletes are a breed who believe in crystals and magnetic wristbands and chi. Because there weren't formal punishments written into the CBA, there was literally no downside to using steroids. If I were a fan of one of those late '90s/early '00s teams like the Braves that came close to a title, I'd be furious that everyone on the team wasn't doping.