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The Genius Of Jose Canseco

Posted by Matt on April 11, 2007

This past late Winter/early Spring season brought us unseasonable weather, a repeat collegiate basketball National Champion, racial comments from Don “I Look Like Death” Imus, and most importantly, the two-year anniversary of the release of Jose Canseco’s much dismissed, tell-all memoir, “Juiced,” which was released February 14, 2005.

Upon the book’s release, most pundits and people in the media dismissed the book as a cheap publicity stunt, that Canseco was simply trying to capitalize financially through shock value. However, just over two-years removed from the book’s release, we have a clearer view of the picture Canseco was trying to paint. There is a lot that has been learned and the landscape of Major League Baseball has changed drastically with the new, more stringent steroid policy and the never ending accusations on players such as Barry Bonds. Furthermore, we only see what the media reports, and although we have seen Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmeiro make a fool of themselves at a Congressional Hearing on National television, I’d like to take the time to break down the events since the book’s release as well as analyze all of the players directly linked in the book, and their careers since that faithful day in February:

  • December 2, 2004: Just before the much anticipated release of Jose Canseco’s book, in which Jason Giambi was knowlingly going to be mentioned, a Grand Jury testimony is leaked and New York Yankee’s First Baseman is forced to admit to steroid and human growth hormone use. His name appears in “Juiced” two months later. This testimony leak also linked San Fransisco based pharmaceutical company, BALCO, to steroids.
  • February 14, 2005: “Juiced,” by Jose Canseco, is released, linking such names as Mark McGwire, Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro, Ivan Rodriguez, Dave Martinez, Tony Saunders, Wilson Alvarez, Jason Giambi, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Bret Boone directly to steroid use. Canseco also mentions that Brady Anderson, Roger Clemens, and Miguel Tejada might have used steroids at some point in their careers as well. At this point, however, Mark McGwire, Dave Martinez, Tony Saunders, and Brady Anderson are all out of baseball already.
  • March 15, 2005: A Congressional Hearing is called to include Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Jose Canseco to discuss steroid use in baseball. McGwire is mum about his possible steroid use maintaining he “isn’t here to talk about the past,” Sammy Sosa seemingly forgot how to speak English while on the stand after 17-years in the big leagues, and Rafael Palmeiro decides to look Congress right in the eye, point his finger, and insist he has never, ever used steroids, “period.” They all, sooner or later, look foolish for this comedy of errors while under oath.
  • July 15, 2005: BALCO Founder and President, Victor Conte, pleads guilty to a U.S. District Court for conspiracy to distribute steroids. Greg Anderson, Barry Bonds’s long time friend and trainer, also pleads guilty to the same charges; this now OFFICIALLY links Barry Bonds to steroids.
  • August 2, 2005: Baltimore Orioles’ First Baseman Rafael Palmeiro is suspended for 10-days for a positive steroid test. Palmeiro did not deny the positive test, however, claimed that he never “knowingly” took steroids. This happens just 5-months after he issued the statement “I have never used steroids. Period.” in front of a Congressional Hearing. Palmeiro back tracks on those statements from March, but maintains innocence.
  • March 22, 2006: “Game of Shadows” is released, detailing Barry Bonds’s and BALCO’s involvement in steroids in baseball, none of the allegations that appear in the book have been directly disputed by either party since.

There have been other numerous positive steroid tests in the Major Leagues since the implementation of the steroid policy in baseball, however Barry Bonds is still chasing Hank Aaron’s record and my sentiments on this were outlined in An Open Letter To All Major League Pitchers.

Where are they now?:

  • Juan Gonzalez (RF): Gonzalez appeared in one game in the 2005 season after appearing in Canseco’s book, and hasn’t laced up cleats in the Major Leagues since.
  • Rafael Palmeiro (1B): Palmeiro appeared in 110 games in 2005, his lowest since his second season in 1987, after testing positive for steroids late in the season. This negated his Congressional testimony that occurred under oath earlier that year. Palmeiro posted his lowest home run total in the 2005 season, 18, since the 1990 season in which he had 14. Palmeiro hasn’t played since.
  • Ivan Rodriguez (C): In the 2005 and 2006 seasons, the two seasons after the book’s release, Rodriguez had consecutive seasons in which he posted his lowest home run output, 14 and 13 respectively, since the 1995 season in which he had 12 home runs for the Texas Rangers. After being a teammate of Canseco’s in Texas, Rodriguez went on to have 5 consecutive seasons with 20+ home runs from 1997 – 2001, with one season above 30 home runs. “Pudge” is currently the catcher for the Detroit Tigers.
  • Wilson Alvarez (RP): In 2005, after the release of the book, Alvarez posted his worst ERA, 5.63, since his 1-game Rookie Season in 1989 in which Alvarez posted an ERA of 81.00. Alvarez only appeared in 21-games in the 2005 season, his third lowest output of his career and hasn’t pitched since.
  • Bret Boone (2B): In the 2005 season after appearing in the book and after having 7 consecutive seasons of unBoone-like home run outputs of 19 or above (which included two seasons in the mid-30s) dating back to the 1998 season, Boone posted his lowest home run output, 7, since his Rookie year of 4 in 1992. Boone only appeared in 88 games in 2005 and hasn’t seen a big league field since.
  • Sammy Sosa (RF): In the 2005 season, immediately after being linked to steroids by Canseco, “Slammin’ Sammy’s” home run total of 14 was his lowest since the 1992 season of 8. After the 1992 season, Sosa went on to explode through the 2004 season in the home run category, which included three seasons above 60, the only person to accomplish this feat in the history of baseball. Sosa was another member of the embarrassing Congressional Hearings and failed to make the Baltimore Orioles in 2006. He now splits time in RF with the Texas Rangers, sporting a .167 batting average.
  • Jason Giambi (1B): Giambi admitted to steroid use after a Grand Jury testimony leak and an impending appearance in Canseco’s book in late 2004. Since the 2003 season, Giambi’s batting average and home run out put have fallen off some and he now plays for the New York Yankees with a .192 batting average.
  • Mark McGwire, Tony Saunders, and Dave Martinez: All were retired from baseball BEFORE the release of the book.

Now I realize the wholes in some of Canseco’s arguments. Age could be a factor in the decline in all of the above listed players and the so-called “Steroid Era” that Canseco argues also could easily have been the prime of all these players’ careers. But not all can be discounted as there is a pattern with nearly every player being either a former teammate, a player of Latin descent (like Canseco himself), or both. I feel there is just too much information to completely discount and that is what much of the media, including Mark McGwire, did to this book upon its release. Now I realize Jose Canseco isn’t really a genius, you can tell that by reading the book as it seems to be written at a Fourth Grade reading level, yet I do feel that there is a lot to be learned from what Canseco has to say. I think some credit should be given to Jose Canseco for talking about what nobody else wanted to talk about, regardless of his motives, and for opening up the “Pandora’s Box” that is steroids in baseball.

UPDATE: While you are pondering the greatness of the article, here is a video of Jose Canseco taking one off of the head out in RF that turned a Warning Track shot in to a round tripper. The awesomeness of this shot makes Larry Bird and Michael Jordan’s “off the scoreboard, nothing but net” on the McDonald’s commercials of the early 90s look like child’s play.

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