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Baseball Sees Itself in Canseco



By Mike Silva ~ April 21st, 2012. Filed under: MLB News.

The beauty and downfall of social media is that it allows complete transparency into the world of people. The invisible wall that once separated fans from who their athletes really are has been torn down. Some athletes bring us more into their world than others. Jose Canseco is one of those athletes.

Long known as the godfather of steroids, Canseco has been blamed for introducing and blowing the whistle on steroids in baseball. His book “Juiced” claimed that 85% of the league was using some sort of banned substance. Although we can never prove that claim empirically, it’s safe to say that Canseco wasn’t too far off. At the very least he tipped us off about the rampant use.

The last time Canseco donned a big league uniform was during a 2004 tryout with the Dodgers. Since then he’s discussed his life on A&E, appeared on Donald Trump’s hit show “The Celebrity Apprentice,” MTV’s “The Surreal Life” and has participated in various mixed martial arts matches. Through it all Canseco has gone on record saying how much he loves the game of baseball. He discusses it almost nightly on his Twitter account, and even recently talked about what he would do if he were commissioner of the game.

Last year Canseco became player/manager for the Yuma Scorpions of the independent North American League. In his late forties he was still able to hit .256 with 8 HRs in 237 at-bats. He was slated to play in Mexico this year, but failed a steroid test. Canseco claims the drug in his system is only being used because of physical side effects he suffers from his years of steroid use. He was looking to enhance a different type of performance, if you will.  Not to worry, he will be playing baseball again this year as he signed a deal with the Worcester Tornadoes of the Can-Am League. According to the Worchester Telegram & Gazette, the Can-Am League does not have a drug-testing policy in place and leaves it up to the individual teams to police the players. The Tornadoes believe Canseco is serious about promoting the league on the field and at the gate. With the large presence the Can-Am League has in the Northeast, you can bet there will be more than one story written about Canseco this year.

The most interesting twist to the Canseco story is the fact the Red Sox invited him to yesterday’s 100-year celebration of Fenway Park. Canseco has claimed in the past that he believes he was blackballed from baseball because of the fact he spoke out about the steroid issue. He believes the powers that be did not want him to reach 500 home runs – a huge Hall of Fame benchmark- which would put him in an elite class in the game’s history. He finished his big league career with 462. As a matter of fact, Canseco believes he could hit 40 homers at the age of 47 today if given the chance to DH full time.

If baseball was so anti-Canseco why would Bud Selig allow the Red Sox to invite him back to Fenway? He played only 198 games with the Red Sox, and many forget that he even wore their uniform. The cynic in me wonders if this is baseball’s way of reining him in. It’s no secret that Canseco has financial problems. His ex-girlfriend recently spoke about that and other off-the-field issues with a blog called “The Stirring Straw.” 

It is important, however, to note that Canseco has been critical of Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. He believes there is more to A-Rod’s PED use than the “whoops I made a one-time mistake” confession he gave in 2009. The sport already has Barry Bonds‘ tarnished legacy hanging over it. Do you really think Selig wants Rodriguez to be revealed as more than just a cursory user of steroids? Having the two most complete athletes of the last 25 years as proven frauds puts a huge black mark on his legacy. Having Canseco lashing out at the game nightly on Twitter probably doesn’t make him feel too good. Why not soften him up by allowing him back into the club in some capacity, even if it’s for just one day.

You could tell that Canseco had a great time at Fenway. I found his comments on Twitter interesting:

It would have been fun to see him confront A-Rod. It would have certainly made an interesting day at Fenway even better. I was actually surprised that Canseco wasn’t booed during his introduction. Interesting how the fans seem to be more forgiving than the league and media.

We won’t ever see Jose Canseco in the Hall of Fame as he fell well short of the 5% necessary to keep him on the ballot. With players such as Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell possibly being kept out because of suspicion of PED use, an admitted cheater will never get consideration from the Veterans Committee. Canseco’s day at Fenway might be about all he gets from the game.

I do think there should be a Hall of Fame exhibit to this guy someday. He symbolizes a wild time in the game’s history. One in which the league will never embrace. One they will try and hide or “dress up” as they do their other transgressions; specifically segregation and collusion.

What’s funny is that Canseco does seem to really love the game. Sure, he’s broke and probably could use the paycheck, but his name will certainly command appearance fees in various venues. He doesn’t need to put on spikes to make a living. You also don’t make a ton of money playing independent baseball. At best I suspect he’s pulling in $3,000 a month.

Lots of people seem to hate Canseco because he stands for everything they believe was wrong with the game for two decades. I believe he is exactly what baseball has been its entire existence: dynamic, superior, ever-changing, interesting, flawed and, at times, criminal. I am sure there are tons of other adjectives you can find that connect the two.

Baseball hates Canseco because of the fact it reminds it of what it really is when they see him.

That is probably why I actually don’t have a problem with Jose Canseco staying in the spotlight. I hope he continues to remind them for a long time.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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1 Response to Baseball Sees Itself in Canseco

  1. Chuck Johnson

    Every living former Red Sox player received an invitation, the total was in excess of 600.

    What’s surprising isn’t that Canseco received the invite, but that he accepted it.

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