Joe Lavin

March 25, 2008

Jose Canseco Reviewed: With Spoilers


There I was, wandering through a quaint Cambridge bookstore on Monday, when I noticed a copy of Jose Canseco's new book "Vindicated: Big Names, Big Liars, and The Battle to Save Baseball" in their tiny sports section. That's odd, I thought. I didn't know the book had come out yet. It turns out that it hasn't. The book's not due to be released until April 1st, but, for some reason, there was a copy for sale. And so I bought it.

It's a roughly 250-page book that deals with many things, but, of course, all you want to know about are the Big Names. In here, Canseco accuses three more players of using steroids, and they are:

(Spoiler Alert: Don't read any further if you don't want to know how the book ends!)

Magglio Ordonez
Roger Clemens
Alex Rodriguez

The Ordonez story is, by now, routine -- just that old yarn of one player injecting another with steroids, possibly in the buttocks. Canseco does point out that the recent New York Times report -- that Canseco had offered to keep Ordonez "in the clear" if Ordonez invested five million dollars in a documentary that Canseco was producing -- is not true. Canseco says there was no blackmail, and that there is no documentary at all, which is Sundance's loss, I guess.

Meanwhile, the evidence against Clemens is somewhat flimsy, and Canseco even admits that he's not completely sure that Clemens used steroids. After a home run, Clemens would just make jokes like, "Man, you must have had your juice this morning!" Other times, he would say that he was off to take his "B-twelve shots," which, Canseco says, is how players often refer to steroids. He does later state that Clemens did not attend the much-discussed barbecue at Canseco's house which was mentioned in the Mitchell Report.

Canseco wanted to include his suspicions about Clemens in his first book, "Juiced," but the publishers wouldn't let him. When later he told 60 Minutes and ESPN about Clemens, the comments were mysteriously edited out of the reports. Canseco began to think there was some sort of conspiracy afoot, specifically:

Roger Clemens was from Texas. He went to play for the Astros, to be close to his family. George W. Bush, a former owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, is, like Clemens, a proud Texan. Clemens is a personal friend of Bush Sr. and his wife, Barbara. Clemens still has a standing invitation from Bush Jr. to visit the White House anytime. Getting the picture? Maybe the president of the United States, or his daddy, the ex-president, made some calls and took care of things for good ole Roger.

The saddest part of this entire book is that I think I might actually believe this. I really can see President Bush putting off the important work of government in order to help out a ballplayer.

As for Alex Rodriguez, Canseco says he didn't inject Rodriguez, but that he "introduced Alex to a known supplier of steroids." Canseco didn't mention Rodriguez in the first book because he "hated the bastard." He was worried that people would have "questioned [his] motives" had he included Rodriguez.

Why all the hatred, you ask. Well, Canseco claims that A-Rod was trying to sleep with Canseco's wife. Apparently, even after Canseco had been nice enough to help A-Rod find a friendly steroids supplier, A-Rod kept calling Canseco's wife.

And, in case there's any further confusion about Canseco's true feelings, he ends the chapter by saying:

So A-Rod, if you're reading this book, and if I'm not getting through to you, let's get clear on one thing: I hate your f***ing guts.

As for the Mitchell Report, Canseco feels he was ignored ("I was Mitch-slapped!") and is still bitter about it. Like many, he also feels that George Mitchell, a director of the Red Sox, showed a clear bias in favor of the Red Sox when conducting his investigation.

In case you're wondering, this is all true because Canseco took a lie detector test. Actually, he took two different types of lie detector tests, and the results are included in the book. Or he could be just saying that he took a lie detector test. What we really need is for him to take a lie detector test to see if he really took a lie detector test. It's only a matter of time before he's a guest on Fox's "Moment of Truth."

Of course, my problem here is that I've never really liked Canseco and have never really thought of him as a reliable witness, you know, except for the minor inconvenience that much of what he has said in the past has turned out to be true. It seems that most of the media feels this way too. We don't really want him to be telling the truth, but, at this point, who knows?

By the way, Clemens and Rodriguez aren't the biggest names in the book. The biggest may well be Mike Wallace. Canseco describes a conversation the two had after his 60 Minutes interview:

When the cameras stopped rolling, Wallace asked me if we could talk, off-camera. He kept me there for another hour, clearly curious about steroids. . . . He wondered how the steroids and human growth hormones (HGH) might help him, a man in his eighties, live a longer, healthier life. He wanted to know everything. . . . When Wallace was done interrogating me, I could see I had piqued his interest. Whether I'd made a convert of him, I can't say. Still, I know, I was pretty convincing.

Yes, apparently, Mike Wallace could be juiced. It makes sense. How else to explain how Wallace has stayed on top of his game well into his eighties? No word yet on whether Andy Rooney is juiced too.


2008 Joe Lavin

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I have written for Slate, The Boston Globe Magazine, The Boston Herald, Salon, McSweeney's, The Christian Science Monitor, The Boston Phoenix, The Globe and Mail, The Montreal Gazette, and many other publications. I'm also included in May Contain Nuts: A Very Loose Canon of American Humor, the third volume in the Mirth of a Nation series. Thanks for dropping by. I hope you enjoy my Internet column. -- Joe Lavin



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