02/10/2005: Hot Stove League: The Jose Got Juiced And Is Naming Names Edition....
The big, big news on the baseball front this week is Jose Canseco, who has, according to a story broken by the New York Daily News, written a book, charmingly titled Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big. Jose's book was originally scheduled to be published on February 21, but the inevitable (and probably expected) firestorm raised by the book has caused the publication date to be pushed ahead; currently it's scheduled to be published after the statutorially requried 60 Minutes interview, which has itself been pushed up to this weekend (if my sources are correct).
The firestorm raised by the book was in part a result of Jose deciding to name names, and many (if not all) of the names that he names are prospective Hall of Famers: Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez. Especially compelling (or nauseating, depending on your attitude to such mental pictures):
The longtime Oakland star, who made a brief appearance with the Yankees in 2000, claims he introduced steroids to the game and injected fellow Bash Brother Mark McGwire in the rear end numerous times in clubhouse bathroom stalls.That is really a picture I didn't want to visualize, and I'm going to have trouble purging it from my mind now. Thanks, Jose.
But Canseco doesn't just name players:
Canseco claims the team's general managing partner at the time - an aspiring politician named George W. Bush - had to have been aware that his players were using performance-enhancing drugs but did nothing about it.However, the other fuel feeding the fires of controversy over Canseco's revelations is his apparently unabashed, unashamed promotion of what others consider his misbehavior:
The book is an homage to steroids, and Canseco says that he not only used them, but that all players should. He concedes that kids shouldn't use them and no one should abuse the muscle-building drugs, but Canseco practically offers a how-to guide to steroids and human growth hormone.However, I'm cynical, and not given to disappointment over people's moral failings. However, one revelation does raise a question of whether Canseco's steroid use adversely affected his, uh... manhood:
Perhaps the biggest shock in the book? Canseco says he never slept with Madonna. They made out in her Manhattan apartment one night, he claims, but that's as far as it went.If true, this means that Canseco was the only male celebrity over the age of consent who hasn't fucked Madonna. But I digress.
Reaction to these "revelations" was, predictably, quite intense. St. Louis Cardinals' manager Tony LaRussa, who managed McGwire in both Oakland and St. Louis, and who managed Canseco in Oakland, was vehement in his denials.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who had Mark McGwire on his teams in Oakland as well as St. Louis, angrily fired back Sunday at former A's star Jose Canseco.[See also the New York Times article here.]
"I just hope that the paper that made a big deal of Jose's accusations gives the same attention to those of us who know Mark," La Russa said. "I couldn't disagree more. I categorically refuse to accept anything that Jose says about Mark."
La Russa said that upon hearing of the Canseso book he talked to Cardinals coach Dave McKay, who was involved with McGwire's workouts in Oakland and St. Louis.
"The biggest key for McGwire is that all of his strength and size gains came from five or six days a week of hitting the gym with a very disciplined workout, his protein intake and careful dieting," La Russa said. "He was probably in the gym 10 times more than Jose, and Jose was bigger."
One of Canseco's other managers weighed in:
Tom Grieve, Texas general manager when Canseco was traded there from Oakland in 1992, told the Dallas Morning News: "It's a joke. Jose has taken himself and his life to a new level of embarrassment."As did his teammates named in the book. Rafael Palmiero (from the referenced Post article):
"I categorically deny any assertion made by Jose Canseco that I used steroids," Palmeiro said in a statement released from his current team, Baltimore. "At no point in my career have I ever used steroids, let alone any substance banned by Major League Baseball. As I have never had a personal relationship with Canseco, any suggestion that he taught me anything, about steroid use or otherwise, is ludicrous. ... I am saddened that he felt it necessary to attempt to tarnish my image and that of the game that I love."Of course, members of that segment of The Fourth Estate which sets down "the first draft of baseball history" have their opinions, and they're not shy about sharing them with us. One might predict, for example, that St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnists like Jeff Gordon would come down in favor of hometown favorite McGwire:
True, we have to consider the source. Jose Canseco is one of the great jesters in the history of Our National Pastime.Some St. Louis columnists aren't so forgiving. Bryan Burwell, also of the Post, rants:
By accident or on purpose, Jose has starred in some of the most ludicrous scenes on and off the field.
So when Canseco makes blockbuster revelations about steroid abuse in his soon-to-be-published book -– “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big” -- we should all read the juicy passages with a skeptical eye.
But the vivid and specific allegations against Mark McGwire will damage the big fella’s reputation, even here in Cardinal Nation.
Whatever they say about him, it won't be enough to detract from the overwhelming evidence that Canseco is probably telling plenty of truths about baseball's Steroid Era. And if you are willing to reconcile that troubling truth, then by extension, you must be willing to accept an even more unsettling fact that will surely make many folks here in St. Louis squirm:Rather than go on quoting, you can follow up on some of the other commentary yourself:
Mark McGwire is just as big a propped-up, juiced-up fraud as Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and the late Ken Caminiti.
It has to hurt to swallow this, because we all drank the Big Mac Kool-Aid back in 1998, when he and Sammy Sosa (another guy with mounting circumstantial evidence tarnishing his act) saved baseball with their engaging season-long home run onslaught that produced Big Mac's record 70-homer season.
Anti-Canseco: Murray Chass, Thomas Boswell, Tom Verducci.
Pro-Canseco: Mike Bianchi, Rick Morrissey, Jon Heymann.
At least, the 2007 Hall of Fame election just got a lot more interesting....
Len on 02.10.05 @ 12:53 PM CST