Jose Canseco – Major League Baseball’s Bad Boy
José Canseco is a former Major League Baseball player that has become controversial after he retired, mainly due to his admission to steroids use during his days in the league. Even more controversial is his implication of other baseball superstars, including the legendary Mark McGwire, who have consistently denied doping allegations.
Canseco is an outfielder and designated hitter of the Oakland Athletics from the late 1985 until 1992, when he was traded to the Texas Rangers. It was during his stint in the Oakland A’s that Jose became Rookie of the Year (1986), American League MVP (1988), got five of this six inclusions in the All-Star selection (1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1999) and got his first World Series title (1989). He also holds the record of being the first player to be in the 40/40 Club, a term coined by sportswriters for players who are able to accumulate 40 homeruns and 40 stolen bases in a single season, which includes only three other players: Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano .
Canseco played with Mark McGwire in the Oakland A’s, forming the formidable “Bash Brothers” offensive tandem feared by other teams. He is with McGwire when the latter set the record for the most number of homeruns by a rookie (49) in 1987. It is this close association with the Big Mac that Canseco drew upon when he revealed their doping habits together in his book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big. The book appeared in the New York times bestsellers list.
Canseco is seen as a figure that changed Major League Baseball bigtime, in more ways than one. It was Canseco who ushered in the era of well-built baseball players with over-the-top salaries and outrageous lifestyles. In his book, Canseco revealed how he became a virtual guinea pig for performance enhancing drugs, which were then beginning to make inroads into various sports disciplines. He proudly claims to be the one who introduced steroids to baseball, and was known during his time as The Chemist, as he mixed up and experimented with anabolic steroids and human growth hormones.
Canseco maintains that steroid use is not bad, as the drugs help athletes and the league only get better. He maintains that when properly monitored by a physician, steroid use in small doses gives a better quality of life, makes players look better and sexier, helps players quickly recover from injuries, and, eventually, results in better performances. Canseco dismisses as myth the widely-accepted belief that steroids destroy the bodies of athletes. In fact, Canseco, credits steroids in changing the image of baseball from one replete with drinking and pill-popping old-timers to a younger set of ‘roiders that give more exciting games for fans.
One of his assertions, relating to testicular atrophy which is a common steroids side-effect, is that while atrophy is possible and will reduce the size of the testicles, the size of the penis is not diminished by steroids use. On the contrary, he even claims the hormones may make the organ actually get bigger, citing his own experience and sexual conquests as proofs.
In Juiced, Canseco claims to have personally injected steroids and growth hormones to some of his teammates, including McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. Both players denied the allegations; in their respective appearances before the House Government Reform Committee that investigated drug abuse in major league baseball, McGwire declined to answer questions while Palmiero categorically denied using steroids. The MLB later commissioned Sen. George J. Mitchell to do a separate investigation and the Mitchell Report released on December 2007 also did not name both players among those found to be using or somehow linked to entities or individuals found to be supplying steroids to players. It is worth nothing that McGwire admitted in 1998 using androstenedione, a steroid-precursor found in an over-the-counter muscle enhancement product which was at the time still legal under U.S. law, though it was already banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
After the release of Juiced, Canseco maintained that many MLB players are into steroids, naming specifically Jason Giambi, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Bret Boone based on changes in their physical appearances. Both Giambi and Bonds have since admitted using steroids. Canseco is set to release a second book entitled Vindicated.