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February 2, 2000

Prospectus Roundtable

John Rocker Suspension

by Baseball Prospectus

On Monday, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig suspended Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker until May 1 as punishment for his statements against ethnic minorities, immigrants and homosexuals.

Jeff Bower: This is patently absurd. It certainly seems that the repercussions from fans and players are more than adequate punishment for the "crime" and act as an adequate deterrent.

Rany Jazayerli: The problem with the Rocker situation transcends MLB, in my opinion. If Selig hadn't suspended him, there would have been a public outcry that would have so surpassed the nature of the crime as to defy belief.

That doesn't excuse the decision, but it explains it. I wouldn't even mind it so much if it weren't for the inevitable lack of punishment handed out to Bobby Chouinard. Was Wil Cordero suspended at all for his domestic violence charge? I don't think so, though I can't recall whether he was formally convicted on those charges either.

(Ed. note.: Cordero was never suspended.)

Anyway, the MLBPA is going to file a protest, and I'd think there's a good chance an arbitrator will turn this over. Which, come to think of it, may be what Selig wants after all: Rocker gets off, and his hands are clean.

Michael Wolverton: This may be too cynical, but my first thought was that this is a labor move. By handing out such a stiff punishment, MLB has forced the union to come down unambiguously on the side of the presumed bigot. The union could take some PR hits as a result, and could face some dissension from its own members.

JB: I love a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, but I can't advance it here. It seems like it's a given that the union is going to support one of its own, and thus probably won't get much, if any, bad press by doing so.

Chris Kahrl: Hell, this makes as much sense as the Marlins trying to get a work visa for Elian Gonzalez, in order to make him a batboy. It's MLB trying to make a feel-good move that ends up being totally inappropriate.

I'm with Rany. I think Czar Bud is counting on the union to get him off the hook. MLB ends up looking politically correct, while the MLBPA ends up doing its job.

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