Agent of hate
The real reason Jose Canseco is mad at A-Rod
Posted: Friday March 28, 2008 1:07PM; Updated: Monday March 31, 2008 11:07AM
Jose Canseco -- self-professed truth teller and whistleblower on alleged liars -- appears to be caught in a whopper here.
Canseco claims in his new book, Vindicated, that the reason he "hates [Alex Rodriguez's] guts'' is because A-Rod hit on Canseco's then-wife Jessica. However, people who were close confidants of Canseco insist the actual reason the ex-ballplayer despises A-Rod has nothing to do with Canseco's former wife but regards Canseco's true passion, which, of course, is money.
Those former confidants told SI.com the rift between the two Miami-raised superstars actually occurred when Rodriguez chose not to let Canseco and his brother, Ozzie, be his agents. Those former confidants say Canseco was bitterly disappointed in A-Rod's business rejection.
"I know Jose, and I know Jose very well. He would be madder at A-Rod for not signing with the agency than for going after Jessica,'' said Juan Iglesias, a well-respected Miami-based player agent and former business associate of Canseco's.
"At that time, Jose wanted to focus on his professional life. He and his wife were struggling throughout the '90's and into the 2000's. At that time, they were in the process of getting divorced. Jose was in a disrespectful situation and was with other women.''
Yet another former close confidant of Canseco's agreed that the rift had nothing to do with Jessica and instead came about when Canseco lost the client he thought would make a success out of his fledgling South Florida Sports Council, which instead became another of Canseco's failed business ventures. "That's where the animosity comes from,'' the former Canseco confidant said.
Canseco is big on revenge, and in Vindicated he makes no secret that he hates A-Rod's (bleeping) guts. How do we know? Because Canseco writes those very words to A-Rod, "I hate your (bleeping) guts.''
And the reason he hates A-Rod's guts may be the most interesting thing in a book generally bereft of interesting things. According to Canseco, it's because A-Rod, a bachelor at the time, constantly ogled, telephoned and hit on Jessica.
Canseco's book, which professes to be a paragon of truth and chides others for failing to tell the truth, never once mentions his failed agency or how he needed Rodriguez, a former fast friend from Miami, to hire him. And that is no small thing. Had A-Rod agreed to become a client, as Canseco hoped, his career as an agent would have been made.
This point is key because in Canseco's sequel there isn't even one great claim, there's just one great name -- Rodriguez's -- which explains the subtitle, "Big Names, Big Liars and the Battle to Save Baseball.''
Canseco writes that he introduced Rodriguez to a known dealer of steroids (his italics, not mine), and that he isn't sure what happened after that. Of course, it isn't a crime to shake someone's hand, and Canseco offers no proof that this happened. Yet without that tidbit, there is no book. Even with it, there's barely a book.
Now Canseco's story regarding A-Rod going after Jessica looks at best incomplete, and at worst a complete fabrication.
"Alex was a gentleman with the guy. If he says that about [Rodriguez], I hate to think what he says about me,'' Iglesias said. "I never heard one word about him going after Jose's wife. Never. Not one word. And I would have heard that. We were personal friends.''
Iglesias said he watched Canseco calling out A-Rod on Nightline this week and he couldn't believe what he was hearing. But having lived through it with him, he did believe it.
"The whole thing with A-Rod is absolutely false,'' said Iglesias, who recalled that the Cansecos and A-Rod doubled dated at the 1995 Super Bowl in Miami. "Jose didn't write it in his first book, and Jessica didn't write it in her book. And she talked about everybody she [had a relationship with]. If A-Rod had anything to do with her, that's [a] headline and that would have been in the book.''
Of course, Rodriguez went on to sign a record-breaking $252-million contract shortly after rejecting Canseco's overtures (costing Canseco $12.6 million in agent's fees, in Canseco's mind, anyway). A-Rod declined to discuss their past business differences when asked about them earlier this spring and has said very little publicly about the Canseco book. When asked about Canseco's claim that he tried to pick up Jessica, A-Rod's response was, "He said that in his book?"
Iglesias and Canseco had what Iglesias described as a "falling out'' when Canseco rejected the idea that Iglesias be a 50-50 partner in the venture, even though Iglesias has major-league clients like Livan Hernandez and Antonio Alfonseca. Iglesias said he wants to reveal what caused their own falling out because he said he knows, "If it ever becomes a topic, [Canseco's] going to make up a million things.''
According to his former confidants, Canseco tried hard to convince A-Rod to join his agency. Iglesias said his only business contact with A-Rod came at the behest of Canseco, when Rodriguez called for his professional opinion of how much he was worth. Rodriguez wound up signing a $10-million extension with the Mariners at the time.
Iglesias said Canseco was hoping to land A-Rod to foster the high lifestyle he and Ozzie were enjoying. "They wanted to lead the Mac Daddy agenting life,'' said Iglesias, who has represented several major leagues.
Iglesias acknowledged that a lot of what Canseco wrote in his first book, Juiced, turned out to be true, but that Canseco "can tend to go off on tangents.'' Like this one, for instance.
Canseco's new book features alleged results from a lie detector test, to show how truthful he is. But apparently he wasn't hooked up to a lie detector for the entire section of why he hates A-Rod, which is a pretty long detailed description about Rodriguez supposedly "ogling'' Jessica, then allegedly calling her to hit on her.
I called Canseco's lawyer Rob Saunooke to see what he knew about the failed business relationship. While Saunooke knew Ozzie was part of the agency (Ozzie was apparently the figurehead while Jose, then an active player, tried to procure clients), he said that episode came before he began representing Canseco and that he wasn't aware of it.
Anyway, Canseco's agency ultimately failed and is believed to have cost Jose Canseco more millions. People who know him say Canseco's many money-losing ventures has left him in much more a precarious financial situation than you'd think for a player who made $45 million in what was once a brilliant (if steroid-fueled) career. Canseco apparently still lives a high lifestyle.
Three years ago when I tried to visit Canseco, he had a residence overlooking the Los Angeles Valley in a fancy section of Encino, Calif., near Michael Jackson, plus a Rolls-Royce Phantom in the garage. However, a person familiar with one of the mortgages on one of Canseco's luxury properties say his financial woes caused him to take out a loan at a usurious rate. So while he lives well, his liquidity may be confined to Winstrol.
For a vengeful, law-skirting, egomaniacal money grubber, Canseco wasn't doing too badly there for a while. His batting average was pretty good in his first book, as he points out over and over again in his victory lap of a follow-up. But it's taking a tumble here.
He should have quit while he was ahead. While this new book does have a little juice to it, there is almost no meat. And what meat there is, well, it's rotten enough to turn Roger Clemens into a vegan.