Jose Canseco did steroids? Not really heart-stopping news. But maybe some of the other players he calls out in his book, Juiced, will be surprising.
The hype/controversy around this book seems pretty overblown. Like any other piece of writing or movie or art, it is subjective. If you are interested in the topic and think it might be an interesting or informative read, buy it. If you think Canseco has no credibility or his motives are flawed, don’t buy it. From a marketing perspective, the timing of the release was genius. This is surely the slowest time of year in all of sports. Unless you are a college hoop fanatic or follow dog shows, you’re pretty much sports-deprived right about now.
In terms of credibility, Canseco has seemingly gone out of his way to make himself a most unreliable source on just about any subject. But who would know more about steroids than “The Chemist” himself? He was the poster child for steroid use in Major League Baseball, until Barry Bonds came along. Back in Canseco’s day, the issue was ignored. The only time you heard the word was when fans chanted it. I don’t doubt for a minute Canseco is well aware of who did, and did not use steroids on the many teams he played. What will cast doubt for me is if the book only names the “big names”. So far, every player I have heard referenced in the book is a future hall-of-famer. I will be very curious to see if there are any Lance Blankenships or Felix Joses mentioned. Not every steroid user can be great, can they? And closer to home, remember this?
And what of Canseco’s motivation to write the book? I say, who cares. Steroid use is an issue that has been ignored for too long by Major League Baseball and the public. Whatever it takes to get it resolved and get the cheaters out of the game and the record books, I applaud. Yes, Canseco will make a lot of money. But does he need it? Probably not. Canseco made well over $40 million just in salary during his career, I’m sure there was a lot of endorsement money during his prime as well. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think for a minute Canseco has any noble ideas about saving the game. I really don’t know why he did it, nor do I care.
What surprises, and disappoints me most, has been the general reaction to the book. Fans and media alike are condemning Canseco for “ratting out” his ex-teammates. These same hero-worshippers are defending the accused, unwilling to admit the likelihood of steroid use until one of their idols trots onto the field with a needle hanging out of his ass or is carried off the field in a body bag when his vital organs fail.
Mo Vaughn was interviewed and stated he was shocked that Canseco broke the code of ethics that exists in the locker room. Code of ethics? We are talking about cheating. We are talking about breaking the law. We are talking about the actions of people who are worshipped by millions of young children. Where are ethics involved? And what does Vaughn have to hide? Unless there are Crisco-based steroids, I don’t think anyone is accusing him.
Others, including Tony LaRussa have been quoted with similar reactions, and it is just sad. I had hoped for a groundswell of support, not for Canseco, but for getting the issue out in the open. I guess I’m just naive, but I really thought there would be more players happy, or relieved, to see more scrutiny brought to those cheating. Where are the pitchers who are victimized by chemically-enhanced hitters? Where is the outcry from those rotting in the minors, or out of the game completely, just because they played the game with the skills God gave them and couldn’t compete with the superhumans created by science? Where are the legitimate players whose records are being shattered by the all-Stepford team? Where is Hank Aaron?
Truth or lies, facts or rumors, I’m sure the book is somewhere in the middle. Regardless, people want to read Canseco’s story. Right now, it is number three on Amazon, a mere 148,819 spots ahead of Surviving Grady. Go figure.