Thursday, January 24, 2008

When it comes to Jose Canseco – the apple never falls far from the tree

Thursday’s New York Times offered an insightful look into the true nature of former Major Leaguer Jose Canseco. The New York Times reported Canseco in the midst of writing his second tell-all baseball steroids book, agreed to keep Detroit Tigers six-time All-Star outfielder Magglio Ordóñez out of the book if Ordóñez agreed to “invest” in an upcoming movie Canseco is planning. Canseco was quick to deny the allegations.

“Absolutely not,” Canseco said in a telephone interview Wednesday with the New York Times.

Late Thursday evening the USA Today’s A.J. Perez reported that indeed Magglio Ordóñez can look forward to seeing his name in print when “Vindicated” is released on March 31.

Vindicated is the sequel to the 2005 New York Times bestselling book Canseco wrote – “Juiced”. Published in January 2005 Juiced saw Canseco not only detail his rampant use of steroids and other performance-enhancement drugs but Canseco claimed to have precipitated steroid usage by Mark McGwire, Juan González, Rafael Palmeiro, Iván Rodríguez, Dave Martinez, Tony Saunders, and Wilson Alvarez.

He inferred steroid usage based on physical body changes in Jason Giambi, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Bret Boone. He also suggested Brady Anderson, Roger Clemens and Miguel Tejada probably used steroids, based on the improvements in their performances.

In Juiced he claimed that he personally injected McGwire, Palmeiro, González, and Rodríguez when they were teammates, and that he gave steroid information to multiple other players in baseball. Canseco also claimed that Major League Baseball--specifically the players' association, media, and owners--all had knowledge of steroid use after the 1994 baseball strike, but chose to turn a blind eye because steroids made the game more exciting, especially given the McGwire and Sosa home run chase.

Canseco was vilified by everyone close to major league baseball when he released Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big. Published in January 2005, – the book directly led to the March 17, 2005 Congressional Steroid Hearings. When that day ended, Canseco long viewed as a villain by many for writing Juiced, suddenly Canseco was still regarded as a ‘bad person’ but the only honest man in a den of thieves.

In naming names two of the biggest major leaguers fingered by Canseco, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. Both sluggers had surpassed baseball’s magical 500 career home run record – a surefire first ballot election to Baseball’s Hall of Fame. The Congressional Hearings will long be remembered for three memorable moments. McGwire refusing under oath to admit he had used steroids, Palmeiro pointing his finger at the Congressional members’ angrily saying he had never used any steroids and Sosa smiling and claiming he couldn’t speak English anymore.

Meanwhile Canseco continued to promote his book at the Hearings, by now a New York Times bestseller by suggesting everyone else was lying under oath. McGwire was blasted by the media, Sosa laughed at. Palmeiro initially portrayed as a hero for his tough stand ended up humiliating his legacy, his career and any real chance he has of getting into the Hall of Fame when Major League Baseball announced on August 1, 2005 that Palmeiro had tested positive for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

A lot has transpired since Palmeiro tested positive for steroids, and Canseco promised even more stunning revelations in his next book. He started talking about his second book a few months after the publication of his first book.

``This is just the tip of the iceberg," Canseco said. ``We're going to be shocked about the players who took them and who knew they were taking them. More and more names will come out."

The latest banned substance being talked about isn’t steroids which baseball tests for, but for Human Growth Hormones (HGH) something Canseco has used and baseball doesn’t test for. Revelations that Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Jason Grimsley had used HGH surfaced last month after it was announced that Grimsley like Canseco had named names. However, Grimsley unlike Canseco had chosen a book to name names. Instead, Grimsley allegedly spoke to Federal Investigators. Grimsley has since left the Diamondbacks. His career, like Palmeiro came to an end after allegations became true.

Canseco's personal life has also had its troubles. In 1989, his first wife, Esther Haddad, whom he married in November 1988, accused him of domestic violence after he allegedly ran his car into hers. That was the beginning of a series of accusations and run-ins with the law while Canseco was in the public spotlight. He divorced in 1991.

He remarried in August 1996, to Jessica Sekely; he was arrested in November 1997 for allegedly hitting her. In January 1998 he was sentenced to probation and required to have counseling. The couple divorced in 1999. In October 2001, he and his brother got into a fight with two California tourists at a Miami Beach nightclub that left one man with a broken nose and another needing 20 stitches in his lip; Canseco was charged with two counts of aggravated battery.

In 2005, his ex-wife, using the name of Jessica Canseco, was featured in the September issue of Playboy magazine.

Canseco and his ex-wife Jessica have one child, Josie.

Canseco was featured in The Simpsons season 3 episode "Homer at the Bat" when he joined the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant's staff as a ringer on the corporate softball team. He was unable to play because he was rescuing infants, cats and furniture from a burning house at the time of the game.

In his book he admits that he met Madonna and that she asked him to marry her, but he claims that he was never interested in her, and was just fascinated with her as a person.

He was a cast member on the 5th season of the VH1 series The Surreal Life.

For those who have forgotten (or never bothered to watch the VH1 show) Canseco’s housemates included:

Janice Dickinson: "I am the world's first supermodel, and I'm one angry bitch sometimes."

Sandy "Pepa" Denton: "You know me as Pepa from Salt-n-Pepa. You can push it, but you betta not push me."

Carey Hart: "I ride bikes and break bones for a living. People expect me to be this wild, crazy Evel Kneivel, but I'm a really mellow person."

Caprice: "I am an international model. The fact that people stereotype me, used to bother me, but now I try to use it to my advantage."

Bronson Pinchot: "You know me as Balki from Perfect Strangers. I like to do whatever I've been told not to do."

Omarosa: "Most people see me as a villain from The Apprentice. No bitches here; just pure diva."

If nothing else, non baseball events during Canseco’s career illustrated how much of an opportunist the first player to ever hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in one season.

In the film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Canseco was mentioned by Raphael in a fight with Casey Jones. As Casey attacks Raphael in Central Park with a baseball bat and other various sport equipment, Raphael says "A José Canseco bat? Tell me you didn't pay money for this."

In the film Liar Liar, when Jim Carrey is being taken away by a bailiff, he refers to himself as José Canseco.

In the My Way Entertainment Power Rangers parodies, the Red Ranger frequently calls himself "José Canseco" while shouting many references to steroids.

Spike TV's reality show "Pros vs. Joes" Season 2 featured Canseco on the premiere episode on January 25, 2007.

In early 2007, Canseco participated in a Full Tilt Poker tournament with Erick Lindgren, Daniel Negreanu, John Juanda, Phil Ivey and Cheryl Hines.

In December 2007, Canseco revealed that he, together with Herschel Walker, have begun training for an upcoming mixed martial arts reality television series featuring former celebrity athletes.

The story of how Vindicated is being published or more precisely how it almost wasn’t published offers the suggestion that not everyone in the publishing industry supported Canseco’s literary efforts.

Canseco began talking about the sequel to Juiced soon after the March 18, 2005 Congressional Steroid Hearings. Don Yaeger who has been a part of some of the more influential, interesting and entertaining sports books in the last decade had agreed to work with Canseco on Vindicated. Among the books Yaeger has been a part of: Pros and Cons the Criminals (Oeb) Who Play in the NFL, Never Die Easy: The Autobiography of Walter Payton and Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed and the Corruption of America's Youth are thus three of the many bestsellers Yaeger has been a part of.

Yaeger has a solid reputation. His books may be controversial but his books are filled with the truth. Yaeger announced in late December that he was pulling out of the project as did the original publisher, Berkley Books, an imprint of Penguin Group USA. Canseco's sequel now will be published by Simon Spotlight Entertainment, a division of Simon & Schuster. Berkley pulled out of their deal with Canseco last week; Simon agreed to publish the book earlier this week.

Yaeger, who Canseco told the USA Today he only spoke with once, said he reviewed a 9,000-word transcript given to him by Canseco's people and spoke with Canseco several times before he determined there wasn't enough to warrant a new book.

"You could see what was and wasn't there," Yeager told the USA Today in a telephone interview.
The New York Times reported Canseco has hired a new ghostwriter, Pablo F. Fenjves, a former National Enquirer writer who wrote “If I Did It” with O. J. Simpson.

Jennifer Bergstrom, Vice President and Publisher of SSE, said "Since Juiced was published four years ago, the issue of steroids in baseball has only gotten bigger. VINDICATED is a compulsively readable book that should act as a call to action for Major League Baseball."

"Believe it or not, Juiced just scratched the surface of the steroid issue for me," Canseco said. "I still have a lot more to say to help save the game I love."

As thrilled as Bergstrom is about publishing what might be a best seller, Bergstrom didn’t offer The New York Times any comment on the New York Times report regarding the Times report relating to Magglio Ordóñez inclusion in the book.

For his part Canseco continues to use the media as his personal platform to promote the book. If nothing else – Jose Canseco offers some of the best sports related media sound bites in recent memory.

Canseco offered the USA Today Thursday evening why he believes his second book was nearly killed: representatives of Detroit Tigers outfielder Magglio Ordonez or Major League Baseball officials bothered his original publisher.

"When I first met with them, they loved it. Then out of the blue they decided not publish it. I thought that was strange," Canseco said in a telephone interview Thursday. "I think some pressure came down from either Major League Baseball, Ordonez's people or both."

MLB denied Canseco's claim. "None of this is true," said Rich Levin, vice president of public relations. "We had nothing to do with" his book being dropped by the Penguin Group. Penguin reportedly decided to drop the book because they believed the book wouldn’t be ready for its March 31, 2008 publication date.

"They said it could be a No. 1 bestseller," Canseco said of his new publisher. "They're obviously not feeling the pressure that Penguin felt, which is smaller publisher. I think (Penguin) felt overwhelmed."

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom. Sources cited and used in this Insider Report: The New York Times, USA Today and Wikipedia

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