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Hypocrisy permeates Rocker suspension

So Major League Baseball really stuck it to John Rocker. No baseball until May 1, meaning he'll miss spring training and the first month of the season.

Word is, it's the harshest penalty given a baseball player for a non-drug related offense in nearly a quarter of a century. And that's not including a $20,000 fine and mandatory sensitivity training.

Yep, commissioner Bud Selig really did it this time. The severity of Rocker's punishment sends a clear and concise message to us that baseball cares about minorities and is sensitive to their feelings.

"Major League Baseball takes seriously its role as an American institution and the important social responsibility that goes with it," Selig told reporters in New York on Monday. "We will not dodge our responsibility. The terrible example set by Mr. Rocker is not what our great game is about and, in fact, is a profound breach of the social compact we hold in such high regard."

Yeah, whatever.

If you ask me, this whole thing stinks worse than Shaquille O'Neal's socks after a triple-overtime game. I mean, how much hypocrisy does baseball expect us to stomach?

Take Rocker, for instance. He rips New York because it's a melting pot, saying, among other things, "I'm not a very big fan of foreigners. How the hell did they get in this country?"

Well, those "foreigners" got in this country the same way Rocker's ancestors probably did _ through Ellis Island.

Then there's the Braves. How can the team criticize Rocker for being racially insensitive and offensive to minorities when its nickname has been called offensive? American Indian groups are still railing against team names like Braves and Indians, yet the teams refuse to do anything about changing them.

Finally, there's Selig. Bud shouldn't try to act like he's so concerned about baseball's "important social responsibility" when Bob Watson can't get a decent general manager's job after essentially building the Yankees into the dynasty they are.

If Selig were genuinely sympathetic to minorities, qualified managerial candidates like Bill Robinson and Chris Chambliss wouldn't be struggling just to get job interviews.

Talk about hypocrisy at its highest levels.

That Major League Baseball is even involved in the Rocker case seems curious. The NFL didn't get involved when Reggie White made his offensive remarks two years ago. And the NBA didn't do anything to Dennis Rodman when he bashed Mormons during the 1997 NBA Finals.

So why does Selig feel the need to stick his nose into this mess?

Not only does he get involved despite the Braves' pleadings to let it remain a team matter, Selig hands out an unprecedented punishment. Instead of the penalty teaching Rocker a lesson, it comes off as more of a public relations move to protect baseball's precious image.

Mind you, Rocker probably deserves to be punished, but Selig's ban until May 1 seems a little excessive. After all, the league has gone a lot easier on players for doing seemingly worse things. Heck, Roberto Alomar got only a five-game suspension for spitting on an umpire a few years ago.

In the end, Selig's public relations trick is probably going to lose its punch. Rocker's penalty could easily get reduced or revoked because of a grievance filed by the players association claiming the punishment is too harsh.

The same thing happened in the Latrell Sprewell case. The NBA's initial one-season suspension, challenged by the players association for being too severe, eventually was softened by 5{ months by an arbitrator.

Actually, an appropriate ending to this saga would be for Rocker to become incensed because some fans view him as a redneck. With all the hypocrisy already associated with this mess, what would a little more hurt?