This is a good day for Jose Canseco. Three of the four lead actors in baseball’s steroid melodrama — baseball commissioner Bud Selig, union boss Donald Fehr, and former senate majority leader George Mitchell — have lied about steroids. The fourth, Jose Canseco, is the only one who’s told the truth.
New York Yankees $28 million-a-year third baseman Alex Rodriguez has admitted to using steroids. I think. Baseball’s house shill, Pete Gammons, softballed his questions to Rodriguez during an ESPN interview. When asked what drug he used, Rodriguez replied, “I don’t know exactly what substance I used, but whatever it is I feel terrible about it.”
Rodriguez is still lying. One asks, “Who will lead us out of this steroid bog?”
Jose Canseco was born in Havana and grew up in a Miami suburb. He was drafted out of high school by the A’s in 1984. At the end of that season, Canseco stood 6’4” and weighed 185 pounds. Six months later he weighed 210 pounds. The extra 25 pounds was muscle. What makes Canseco unusual was the year, 1984, back in steroid prehistory. He was using before he made it to the major leagues.
Canseco had a not-quite–Hall of Fame baseball career. He played for seven teams over 16 years, wound up with a .266 batting average, 462 home runs, and 1407 RBIs. First player to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in one season, six time All-Star, AL Rookie of the Year, AL Comeback Player of the Year, and so on. All of it on steroids.
His is a complicated life. Many civilians found him in 1993, when he was manning right field for the Texas Rangers. It was a spring game against the Cleveland Indians. Carlos Martinez hits a long fly ball, Canseco goes back, back, back and, wait, hold on…YES, the ball hits Canseco on his head and bounces over the outfield wall for a home run.
That was May 26. On May 29, playing Boston, Canseco begged manager Kevin Kennedy to let him pitch. It was the eighth inning, and the game was a runaway favoring the Red Sox. What the hell. Canseco took to the mound, pitched, blew out his arm, and was out for the rest of the season.
This is Canseco, a numbnuts, a 1000-to-1 shot always pulling in that 1-in-a-1000 straw that goes against him. Canseco made $45 million off Major League Baseball. That would stop most men, but not Canseco, who proves if a man wants to go broke, $45 million won’t stop him. Follows are highlights from Canseco’s Universe of Strange: sold his Rookie of the Year ring and American League MVP award plaque on eBay; arrested for speeding on I-95 (125 mph) before spring training and later, in California, for possession of a concealed weapon; deliberately drove his Porsche into wife Ester’s BMW. Arrested and served 26 hours of counseling.
Sadly, counseling didn’t take. Canseco took up with Jessica Sekely, a 19-year-old waitress at Hooters Cleveland. Jessica went on to become Jose’s wife and ex-wife, an author — Juicy: Confessions of a Former Baseball Wife, a book that cleared a path for her big layout in Playboy. Along the way, Jose was arrested for beating aforementioned author. He was sentenced to probation and more counseling. The pair divorced in 1999.
Jose did a tour on the fifth season of The Surreal Life, becoming an alumnus alongside MC Hammer, Tammy Faye, Ron Jeremy, and Charo. He got $50,000.
Arrested for a nightclub fight in 2001. Pleaded guilty to criminal battery, sentenced to two years house arrest.
Have you ever heard of a two-year sentence of house arrest? While doing his time, Jose sold time. On eBay, of course. Step right up, spend an afternoon with Jose Canseco, bids start at $2500.
Signed with San Diego Surf Dawgs of the Golden Baseball League. Played one game, went 0 for 3.
Last summer, Jose fought Vai Sikahema in Atlantic City. His payday was $35,000. Only 1250 customers showed up to watch Sikahema knock out Canseco 97 seconds into the first round.
You can feel the irony. It’s Canseco who’s telling the truth. I’ll close with an excerpt from his latest book, Vindicated: Big Names, Big Liars, and the Battle to Save Baseball.
“And here’s the thing: everyone knew. Nothing happened in the clubhouse that wasn’t approved by the ownership. From top to bottom, the whole thing was institutionalized. Everybody knew about the bogus B12 shots, and everyone was using them. And you want to know why they were using them? They were using them because they were afraid of losing their jobs. It’s that simple.”