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John Rocker, the formerly disgraced Atlanta Braves closer who years after retirement acknowledged having used steroids during his career, said in a radio interview that PED use in Major League Baseball helped transform it into a more appealing sport.
"Honestly, and this may go against what some people think from an ethical standpoint, I think it was the better game," Rocker said on Cleveland's 92.3 The Fan, a CBS affiliate. "At the end of the day when people are paying their $80, $120, whatever it may be, to buy their ticket and come watch that game, it's almost like the circus is in town.
Was there anything more entertaining than 1998 -- I don't care how each man got there -- was there anything more entertaining than 1998? ... Watching Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire chase 61 home runs?” --Former MLB reliever John Rocker
"They are paid to be entertained. They wanna see some clown throw a fastball 101 mph and some other guy hit it 500 feet. That's entertainment. You're paying to be entertained."
Rocker, who lives in Atlanta, told the Cleveland radio station the so-called steroid era in baseball "was a mesmerizing time for every baseball fan out there."
"Was there anything more entertaining than 1998 -- I don't care how each man got there -- was there anything more entertaining than 1998? ..." Rocker said. "Watching Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire chase 61 home runs?"
Once graced with a rocket arm that helped fuel the waning years of the Braves' golden age, Rocker is now more known for errantly shooting from the hip.
In 2008, five years after ending a six-season career in which he pitched for the Braves, Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Rocker said "between 40 to 50 percent of baseball players are on steroids" and "in 2000 Bud Selig knew John Rocker was taking the juice."
Rocker, who is now serving as director of public affairs for SaveHomelessVeterans.com, the Ronald McDonald House and helping raise money to battle multiple sclerosis, was suspended for the first month of the 2000 season and fined $20,000 stemming from homophobic and ethnically insensitive comments he made that were published in Sports Illustrated.
Rocker later issued a statement admitting he went too far and told ESPN that his comments made him sound like "a complete jerk."