Jose Canary?

I was married for only a few years when my parents once had my family over for supper. My mother had made a delicious meal which we were enjoying immensely when my wife piped up with the question: “Do I cook as well as your mom?”

Suffice it to say it took what seemed an eternity for all the naughty words to pass through what passes for my mind before I could even begin to formulate a reply. Truth be told, I’m not exactly sure what I said, all I remember is that I survived the experience. I might have faked an aneurysm (or maybe I actually had one) but there’s no way to be certain.

Which brings me to this week’s topic: Jose Canseco’s further claims about performance-enhancing drug use in baseball and of course MLB’s discounting and debunking Canseco’s as-yet-undisclosed claims.

It really doesn’t matter which side I take up on this, since both are going to leave me with the male equivalent of that not-so-fresh feeling you hear about in the commercials you’re forced to endure while watching T.V. (for those of you who wonder exactly what shows I watch, just bear in mind I have a wife and two teenaged daughters, so guess what’s on the idiot box at my home–thank God for the local pub).

Either side is suicide.

Allow me to preface my comments by saying that I don’t have a whole lot of use for Jose Canseco–he reminds me of a male version of Paris Hilton; he’s there, he’s in the public eye, he has some fans but the great majority would wonder what he’s doing except that we really don’t care and really wish he’d just go away and be an efficient oxygen-carbon dioxide exchanger where we don’t have to look at him.

However, who has more credibility: Jose Canseco or MLB? Granted it doesn’t take much to have more cred than MLB; it’s like being taller, smarter and more charming than David Samson–the bar (both literally and figuratively) hasn’t been set really high.

I’d go into detail about the various acts of dishonesty and deceit MLB is guilty of, but my editors (poor souls) try to keep us on a word limit somewhere south of 100,000 words and I could get to that on this topic and still be doing the introduction.

Suffice it to say it’s pretty well documented.

So when MLB tries to tell us that Canseco is full of it–well that tells me that I had better listen to what he has to say. His much maligned book Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant Roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big contained more truth than any of the Blue Ribbon Reports on baseball’s economics that Bud Selig is so fond of commissioning.

And let’s face it–if anybody knows about steroids and baseball it’s Jose.

In a sense Canseco is the canary in a mineshaft (pun intended). A good recipe for a whistle-blower is the following:

  • Somebody who has nothing to lose.
  • Somebody who is immune from retaliation.
  • Somebody with intimate knowledge of the situation.
  • Somebody who has a sense of grievance and is looking for some payback.

Canseco is no longer employed by MLB and has no prospects of returning. By his own admission he has no real friends inside the game–indeed he is considered a pariah. He has no Hall-of-Fame chances to jeopardize; he was in the major leagues for 17 seasons and was with nine organizations (A’s, Rangers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Devil Rays, Yankees, Angels, White Sox and Expos) and he feels–rightly or wrongly–that he was ‘blackballed’ from the game.

I’m not saying that we can look to Canseco for 100% reliability and integrity–after all the man’s motives are hardly altruistic–but by the same token, other than “official statements” and press releases nobody has come to the table with concrete proof that he’s lying or has enough “goods” to sue him for libel.

Baseball has been busy attacking the messengers, but of note have done little to debunk the actual message.

One thing you can be sure of is this: There are a great number of people watching and reading every word, syllable and punctuation from Canseco, waiting for any slip-up to pounce on in hopes of completely discrediting him. And don’t think there aren’t people who’d mind taking him to court to sue him for every last dime he has.

Card Corner Plus: Gene Michael and High Intelligence on 1972 Topps
Three smart players devoted their lives to baseball.

You can bet Canseco knows this and is being very careful to make sure he brings nothing to the table but facts if for no other reason than to protect his own backside.

Over the last couple of years we’ve seen Rafael Palmeiro test positive for stanozolol, David Wells and Ken Caminiti state that steroid use was rampant in the game, Jason Grimsley and Paxton Crawford admit that hGH use is prevalent within the sport, the Giambis both admit steroid use (one before a Grand Jury, another to the press), the names from the BALCO investigation, Mark McGwire’s reticence to talk about the past…

Over the last few decades we’ve seen MLB state that baseball couldn’t survive free agency, teams would go bankrupt if salaries weren’t reigned in, that publicly financed stadiums were good deals for communities, that collusion was a myth, and that baseball doesn’t have a problem with performance-enhancing drugs…

Let’s just say that if MLB claims that what Jose Canseco has to say is “nonsense” then I’m quite interested in what Mr. Canseco has to say.

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