It’s not hard to discount anything and everything Jose Canseco says. He’s been a self promoter and a characiture for most of his career. In a nutshell, he’s not smart. But he has admitted to using steroids during his career in Major League Baseball, and has implicated most of the big names in baseball in the process.
His book about steroid use explains how, and why, top-notch athletes use performance enhancing drugs to make good athletes better and as Canseco writes, “great players legendary.” It’s not hard to look back at Canseco early in his career and see a very different body style than the one he had as his carrer ended. He was tall and muscular, but was almost wiry. He stole 40 bases and hit 40 home runs in the same season. He ran balls down in the outfield, and legged out doubles with his speed. But as his career progressed, Canseco became a heavily muscled bomber, somewhat injury prone, but more prone to outlandish behavior and prodigous home run blasts.
In other words, the poster boy for steroid use.
Whether he actually injected Mark McGwire with steroids in a bathroom stall in Oakland as he claims in his book is not very relevant. McGwire clearly enhanced his body style and his performace with some kind of substance. He’s admitted to using androstinedione, not a steroid per se, but rather a drug that allows an athlete to work out harder and more often with less recovery time.
McGwire went from a strong, tall home run hitter to a strong, tall, huge home run hitter. No doubt he spent a lot of time in the gym, and no doubt he used drugs to get big. Did Canseco inject him? Did he use illegal drugs? Who cares? Either way he did it with help, and that help put him in the record books with 70 home runs.
As a fan, just think about the players you know in your mind who went from regular looking pro athletes to sculpted Adonis looking mashers. Barry Bonds, Brady Anderson, Ron Gant, McGwire, Canseco, Sammy Sosa, Ken Caminiti, Roger Clemens, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, all guys who are substially bigger than when their careers started. So were they all on steroids? Did they just get bigger with age and hard work? We’ll never know. Unless of course, more players like Giambi come clean.
Canseco might be a cartoon character, and desperate for money, but at least a portion of his claims are true. Baseball players went outside the game trying to break the bank. And most did. But at what cost? Whether there’s an asterisk or not next to the records, the last ten years will always be known as the time in baseball when the players used drugs to inflate the numbers.
And how about the latest allegations?
Did MLB know this was going on, only to turn a blind eye in order to bring some new excitement to the game?
Boy, I hope not.