Jose Canseco is obviously an obnoxious, egomaniacal blowhard but, hey, he was telling the truth in his first book, right? Well, that's what most everyone thinks.
The real story is that Canseco, for the most part, plucked the low-hanging fruit off the steroid tree and named a few names, then spent the rest of 'Juiced' getting just about every fact wrong.
Sure, he named Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and a few others, but inside baseball, everyone knew about those guys. Canseco maintains that in the heyday of steroid abuse, 80 percent of major league players were users. If so, and if you're going to name four or five, why not name a couple of dozen more?
Of course, this is the same guy who, when asked why he began taking performance-enhancing drugs, tells the sad story of a promise he made to his dying mother that he would become 'the best athlete in the world.' In other words, it had nothing to do with fame, fortune and all the trappings.
Noted Portland baseball writer Rob Neyer takes a brief look at 'Juiced' in the preface to the new book 'Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Legends.'
'In his book, Canseco offered a great number of accusations,' Neyer writes. 'As we read them, though, should we have attached any credibility at all to an author who came up with whoppers like this one?
' 'But I remember as a Cuban kid in the A's farm system … I was very aware that baseball was closed to a young Latino like me. That was only 23 years ago, but for baseball it was a completely different era. There were no Cuban players at the major-league level at that time.'
'Closed to a young Latino? Canseco joined the Oakland organization in 1982. At the time, Cuban-born Tony Perez was still five years from retirement. Cubans Bert Campaneris, Jose Cardenal and Luis Tiant all were stalwarts in the 1970s. And that's only a few of the Cubans, to say nothing of all the Venezuelans and Dominicans who began invigorating the game in the 1950s and haven't stopped since. Baseball, closed to a young Latino in the 1980s? Please.
'Here's Canseco on the trade that sent him from the Devil Rays to the Yankees in 2000:
' 'It was the first time in my career that I was completely, 100 percent healthy. I could have helped out the organization with my bat and carried the team - but I wasn't getting to play. … The few times they did get me some at-bats, the Yankees put me in the outfield, even though I hadn't played out there in I don't know how long.'
'Not exactly. In his seven weeks with the Yankees, Canseco played in 37 games - this is, most of the Yankees' games - and in most of them as the DH. He appeared in the outfield only five times. As I wrote in a review of 'Juiced,' 'Basically, whenever Mr. Canseco strays into charted territory, he gets lost.' '
Yes, Canseco does know plenty about steroids. He will be the eternal symbol for their abuse. Now, though, he's just on a desperate quest for money and attention.