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Jose, can you stop?

Money-hungry 'author' Canseco must put down pen

Posted: Wednesday March 26, 2008 11:31AM; Updated: Wednesday March 26, 2008 3:41PM
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Jose Canseco
Jose Canseco's second steroids tell-all implicates Alex Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez.
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Someone needs to find Jose Canseco a new hobby. Maybe we could all chip in for a set of golf clubs, or get him started on a coin collection, because Canseco clearly has too much time on his hands, some of which he has used to write another of his steroid tell-alls, this one entitled Vindicated: Big Names, Big Liars and the Battle to Save Baseball.

Of course, the thing about tell-alls is that the author is supposed to tell all, but Canseco, the ex-Oakland A's slugger and admitted steroid user, apparently didn't do that in his first literary masterwork, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big. (Canseco's titles are nearly as long as his chapters.)

He's back again, like a bad rash, having dredged up -- or made up -- a whole new set of sordid stories about his baseball brethren to share with us. Even if Canseco's tales are true, all he's really doing is repeating what he's already told us, that some big-name ballplayers used performance-enhancing drugs. This is not exactly a news bulletin. Do we really need a Harry Potter-style series on the subject?

In the first book, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro were among the stars about whom he dished dirt, and subsequent events indicated there was a great deal of truth to his accusations. This time around Canseco has gone after the biggest baseball name that hasn't yet been linked to steroids: Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. (He also levels steroid accusations at former teammates Magglio Ordonez of the Detroit Tigers and, in news that's so old it's actually moldy, pitcher Roger Clemens.) Canseco says he introduced A-Rod to a steroids supplier at Rodriguez's request, although he never saw the Yankee star actually use any drugs. For good measure, he throws in an accusation that A-Rod, who was single at the time, chased after Canseco's wife essentially right under Jose's nose.

That's the kind of trashy stuff you're likely to get more of in the new book, which is scheduled to go on sale Monday, and if you go for that sort of thing, enjoy. But in taking a baseball bat to the reputations of some of his former colleagues, Canseco has done more damage to himself.

When his first book was published, he might have been considered an opportunist and a snitch, but he could at least plausibly make the argument that he wanted to help bring the sport's nasty little steroid secret into the light. This time around, after the Mitchell Report, after the Clemens-McNamee Congressional hearings, after the Barry Bonds perjury indictment, the problem has been fully exposed. Now, for Canseco, it's clearly just about making a buck, regardless of who suffers in the process. It's hard to imagine that anyone he writes about could come off any smarmier than the author does.

It would take a great deal of research and investigation to determine the veracity of Canseco's latest claims. (A-Rod, wisely, has declined to comment on any of them.) But whether Canseco's telling the truth isn't so much the point anymore. We don't need more names to know that use of PEDs was rampant, and we certainly don't need the middle-school level prose of Canseco and his collaborator, Pablo Fenves, to open our eyes to the subject.

It should also be pointed out that although Canseco might feel vindicated now that some of the stories from his first book seem to have been borne out, he's not free of suspicion himself. Ordonez accused him of promising to keep him out of the book in return for financial considerations, which Canseco denies. Also, before Fenves signed on, at least one prospective co-author passed on the project because he didn't feel that some of the material was well enough substantiated.

If the excerpts that have been circulated so far are any indication, instead of Vindicated Canseco should have called his book, Desperate: Another Attempt to Wring a Few More Bucks Out of the Same Old Subject. Canseco has exhausted his usefulness as a whistle-blower, so don't spend another penny on his writing. You'll only encourage him.