March 18, 2005

Jose Canseco, Hero: A fascinating op-ed piece by Michael Chabon, who finds much more to appreciate than one would superficially expect.

posted by werty to baseball at 08:41 AM - 13 comments

Calling Canseco a rogue I can fantom, but barely. Calling him a hero demeans those who were. Chabon is witty and eloquent, but he ascribes characteristics to a man he truly doesn't know. Only Canseco knows why he has written his book. His actions point to a man looking for money; for another minute of fame. He is not an abuser who has seen the error of his ways and wants to point to the dangers. He actions are of the jealous man; of a lonely man who needs attention. As far as Chabon thinking Canseco was a baseball great? I also watched those games. He burned bright I'll agree, but the flame extinguished quickly. His steroid use didn't help his career. His best years were his first four. In 17 years of baseball he managed to play 150 or more games for the season only five times. Sorry, Mr. Chabon, Jose Canseco is no hero.

posted by ?! at 08:56 AM on March 18, 2005

Chabon lost me with the idea that Canseco wouldn't lie because he doesn't care what people think. I have no trouble believing that Canseco would sell his soul for attention and dollars in his pocket.

posted by bperk at 09:21 AM on March 18, 2005

Jose is a very tradgic figure. Hero? not by a long shot! I felt that both he and McQuire lost a lot of credibility yesterday. Jose didnt have much to begin with. You could credit Jose for coming forward on steroids but you would have a hard time defining his motives.. Yesterday brought it home for me as to how this steroids issue has tarnished the sport of baseball and maybe pro sports in general..

posted by daddisamm at 10:40 AM on March 18, 2005

I think you're missing the point, contained in the last sentence: And yet, in the end, they were the only ones fit to make the voyage, and when they came back they were laden with a truth that no one else would be clown enough, and rogue enough, and hero enough, to speak. There is only one ballplayer who could undo all the smoke and mirrors of MLB's drug problem. And he has risen to the challenge. Chabon is not saying "Hero" to mean "role model". He's talking about it in the classic sense of the word: Conseco is a Prometheus, bringing fire down from the gods. Great article.

posted by rocketman at 03:05 PM on March 18, 2005

Uhh, speaking of heroes, Chabon was the screenwriter for Spider-Man 2. That aside, the more people like Mark McGwire plead the 5th, the more that Curt Schilling does his own grandstanding, the more I actually like Canseco. Yeah, he broke "the code," he's a "snitch," he "stabbed his teammates in the back," yeah, he wrote a book "just to make money." Strange, all of a sudden telling the truth and making money in America is an unpardonable sin. But really... is it just a matter of telling the truth and making a profit? Seems to me more like Canseco was merely confirming our worst suspicions, telling us that, yes, it wasn't a figment of our imaginations, there really is no Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy, there really was cheating going on. Why did it take so friggin long for baseball to care? In 1988 Ben Johnson got busted for anabolic steroids. In 1989 Jose Canseco was drilling ALCS moon-shots into the 5th level of the SkyDome. During the early 90s the WWF was emboiled in a steroid scandal (and sorry kids, like Santa, pro wrestling ain't even a real sport, it's a tv show). During the 80s and 90s, players around the league called steroids a "Jose Canseco milkshake." And yet -- unfathomably -- in the year 2005, Bud Selig expects us to take him seriously that 17 years after the Ben Johnson scandal, he had no idea -- like the Claude Rains character in Casablanca "I am shocked. Shocked!!" -- that major league ballplayers might be drinking Jose Canseco milkshakes. The fans knew it. The media knew it. The players knew it. And 17 years later Canseco is confirming it. Hate Canseco all you want. Everybody's villifying him, feel free to pile on. But look at Bud Selig, and ask why he hasn't resigned years ago. This assclown has his head in the sand and preferred to look the other way when the Cansecos and the McGwires and the Sosas and the Bonds of the game were mashing baseballs and destroying MLB recordbooks, because he cared more about the Benjamins than the public trust in the game.

posted by the red terror at 03:21 PM on March 18, 2005

When did Sosa start using an inturpeter... I thought he spoke "good english"

posted by daddisamm at 03:46 PM on March 18, 2005

During the early 90s the WWF was emboiled in a steroid scandal (and sorry kids, like Santa, pro wrestling ain't even a real sport, it's a tv show). Yeah - but they show it on Sportsnet and TSN - Call the CRTC!!!! Heh, just ribbing. I agree, Canseco - if anything - is probably the one closest to the truth, but I don't think it takes a enourmous leap to see his motivations - 'need money and fuck baseball, I wanted 500 dingers'. Selig and Co. are absolutely guilty - or absolutely incompetent, and that probably isn't the case.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 06:07 PM on March 18, 2005

I'd say Selig is guilty on both counts of knowing what was going on and being too stupid to do anything about it. My point is, why didn't Canseco come out earlier? Was he waiting to use his knowledge for profit?

posted by DaGeneral at 12:22 AM on March 19, 2005

Bud Selig is baseball's version of Condaleeza Rice. Like Rice, he is either an incompetent boob, or a bald-faced liar. He doesn't deserve to keep his job.

posted by the red terror at 10:31 AM on March 19, 2005

You are comparing Rice with Selig???? thats a huge stretch in my book.....

posted by daddisamm at 10:35 AM on March 19, 2005

That's a great comparison. Remember when Selig received and ignored the daily briefing memo "Jose Canseco Determined to Strike Against Baseball"? In the middle of Spider Man 2, the film's energy grinds to a dead stop for an hour while Peter Parker wallows in angst and his Aunt May tells him a shaggy-dog story about heroism that's so long that you wish she had eaten the mugger's bullet instead of Uncle Ben. No shit the world needs heroes, you ponderous old crone. Now drink a warm glass of shut the hell up so we can get back to Doctor Octopus menacing Kirsten Dunst in a clingy blouse! I was reminded of that hour as I read this piece by Chabon, which throws a bunch of words at a nonsensical premise. His train of logic derails right here: "Canseco has been described as a charmer, and a clown, but in fact he is a rogue, a genuine one, and genuine rogues are rare, inside baseball and out. To be a rogue, it's not enough to flout the law, break promises, shirk responsibilities, cheat. You must also, at least some of the time, and with the same abandon, do your best, play by the rules, keep faith with your creditors and dependents, obey orders, throw out the runner at home plate with a dead strike from deep right field." When did Canseco ever play by the rules? He was a goof who took his talent for granted, and when the spotlight moved on, he's done a series of increasingly pathetic things to get attention and make money. There are rogues to admire for flaunting the unwritten rules of baseball with tell-all books: Jim Bouton and Sparky Lyle, for starters. But as someone who skimmed Canseco's book with the intention of buying it, I couldn't stomach it. He combines terrible writing with a lack of self-knowledge so profound I am amazed he recognizes himself in a mirror.

posted by rcade at 11:42 AM on March 19, 2005

daddissam> if the options for their excuses are stupidity or lies, then yes, they are very much the same... "we had no idea that hijackers would crash airliners into buildings..." sorry condi, maybe you should have read richard clarke's memoes. "we had no idea that players were using and abusing steroids..." sorry bud, fans were joking about "jose canseco milkshakes" in 1989. the excuses don't pass the laugh test. both are either liars or incompetent.

posted by the red terror at 12:02 PM on March 19, 2005

ps. Chabon is a confirmed Pirates fan.

posted by the red terror at 12:04 PM on March 19, 2005

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