I just finished reading Jose Canseco’s new book called "Juiced." It was a really quick read. I should also say that the print was really big and the chapters are small so you can read a chapter to two really quickly and put it aside. The chapters could almost be read in any order which is nice in that each one tried to tell a story and also make some point. One thing that I found a hard time doing was trying to figure out what really could be facts from all of the hype and over the top tales that the book tells. For example Canseco talks about the people he injected with steroids and how he did this multiple times yet in the last week or so on CBS 60 minutes he was already backpedaling and saying that in the case of one specific player that he might have done it once or twice which is far from what it says in his book where this was a weekly occurrence. Also he gives an example of M’s player Bret Boone where he talked to him during a Spring training game and asked him about how he got so big. Looking back at the box scores people have found that there was never any sign that Canseco got to second base in a Spring training game so there was no way the discussion happened as it was portrayed in the book.
My big takeaways from the book are as follows. In Canseco’s mind when steroids are used properly they are a good thing. Only those that do not use them in balance or moderation are going to have problems. He things that in the near future steroids will be become accepted in society and that people will live healthier and longer lives because of their use. When he was coming up in baseball as a Cuban he felt and cited examples on how Latino players were treated much worse than their white counterparts. The media has mostly been out to get him over the years and in some way the powers that be in baseball have helped in supporting the negative and sometimes positive hype surrounding him – also ignoring all of his charity work in his life. Baseball needed Canseco and actively ignored his steroid use over the years along with his claimed education of many other players. When baseball become popular again he was quickly made an example of and dismissed from the game.
It is hard to believe that the book if full of half truths and lies but the way the media has portrayed him it is easy for those that he calls out as abusers of steroids to just say “can you really believe him, look at the source.” He has great ideas on how McGwire and Bonds can hide their use in public. Regardless of his own abuse it is amazing to reflect upon his stats as a whole. He had speed (he claims he routinely would race Rickey Henderson and beat him) and he had power. The first to 40-40. He was one season away from 500 home runs. His rookie year he hit home runs in every AL ballpark. He was rookie of the year. He was a consensus MVP.
As much as a I think the owners look the other way when it comes to steroid use in the MLB the players are as equally responsible to blame. Canseco calls out the players and justifies in that if you a poor player from say the Dominican Republic and a good year could get you a multiple year contract worth $50 million you are going to take that chance. If you look at the last round of negotiations between the players and owners the players association really pushed back hard on full testing for drugs. What would they do this? Well I say for money of course. Who really loses in the end well I think we the fans do. Big homeruns bring fans to the park which makes money for the owners. Players who hit the big homeruns are going to in turn as for bigger salaries. To pay those salaries the owners either have to bring more people through the door by promoting more steroid use or they need to raise the prices for tickets and/or concessions at the ballpark.