Jose Canseco remains baseball’s firefighter-arsonist — the man who set his sport on fire, watched it burn, then did more than most to douse the flames.
The sport’s self-styled Godfather of Steroids claims he introduced dozens of players to the wonders of performance-enhancing drugs, then wrote two riveting books in which he named his cheating pals, including the biggest name of them all, Alex Rodriguez.
Now, with the Biogenesis scandal swallowing up A-Rod in a manner Canseco’s 2008 book Vindicated predicted, one must wonder: What motivates whistleblowers like him?
The love of the game? Moral outrage? A sudden sense of what’s right?
“You want an interview?” asks the woman who answered this week when QMI Agency contacted Canseco by phone. “He’s only doing interviews if he gets paid.
“Are you prepared to do that?”
Journalism 101: Never pay for an interview. After nearly 30 years as a sports celebrity Canseco surely knows this, and asking reporters to pay him to talk is, ethically speaking, somewhat akin to helping ball players learn to cheat with steroids.
“But wouldn’t Mr. Canseco like to weigh in on this major event involving . . .” *Click*.
This approach from the former star slugger — by the way, has there ever been a more juiced-up achievement than the 46 homers he belted for Toronto in 1998? — underscores the biggest challenge for investigations such as Biogenesis.
It’s not that Canseco lies. In fact, time has shown he’s been completely honest and correct about the players he identified as cheaters.
But the motivation is always questionable and thus the credibility strained.
In the shady world of performance-enhancing drugs, the truth is often in the hands of unsavoury types, and the faux-doctor behind the Biogenesis clinic, Tony Bosch, is no different.
Even the Biogenesis whistleblower, Porter Fischer, is an odd fit for a halo: He was ticked Bosch wouldn’t pay him the $4,000 he was owed, so he took clinic documents and handed them to a Miami New Times journalist. That’s pretty much it.
None of this, of course, is to say they’re dishonest. Clearly Bosch (reportedly forced to cooperate with the MLB probe to ease a crushing lawsuit) has provided evidence the likes of Ryan Braun and Jhonny Peralta must know is true, hence accepting their suspensions.
And it’s clear now Canseco’s accusations of A-Rod doping in Vindicated were likely true too. But alas, it’s also clear Canseco was motivated at least in part by the fact he felt A-Rod tried to sleep with his wife, and he had a deep personal hatred for the younger star.
“So A-Rod, if you’re reading this book and I’m not getting through to you, let’s get clear on one thing: I hate your f---ing guts,” he wrote.
So baseball fans could be forgiven if they roll their eyes when Canseco tweets that baseball should force A-Rod to forfeit the nearly $100 million he’s still owed and donate the money to New York City schools instead, calling it a “chance to do something right.”
While Canseco is a leading voice in the anti-doping fight in baseball — again, a scourge he helped start — he’s hardly its moral compass.
And that, maybe, is the point: If other sports are to follow Bud Selig and baseball in truly tackling doping, they must be prepared to get into the gutter to find the truth.
The truth, after all, will set you free, even if soothsayers such as Canseco want you to pay a few bucks to hear it.
CANADIAN ROOTS TO A-ROD’S DOPING?
In his 2008 book Vindicated, steroids-in-baseball pioneer Jose Canseco — a divisive figure who’s called many things, but not a liar — describes how he believes Alex Rodriguez started taking performance-enhancing drugs in the “latter half of the 1990s.”
The pair was working out together in Canseco’s Florida home, and he recounts A-Rod asking him about steroids. The timing, Canseco writes, was perfect.
“Right around that time I ran into a trainer I knew from Canada, my old days with the Toronto Blue Jays,” Canseco writes of the man he refers to only as Max. “He was . . . looking to make a little money and maybe move down to the Miami area permanently.”
Max — a “fan of steroids” — was then introduced to Rodriguez, and Canseco says the ball player “signed on” to train with him.
While he never claims to have witnessed Rodriguez doping, the point is now moot because A-Rod has since confessed to it and been drilled in the Biogenesis investigation.
Canseco suggests strongly the Canadian trainer got A-Rod going down this road to ruin.
“I may not have seen him do the deed, but I set the whole thing up for him, just like he wanted,” Canseco wrote. “I saw the changes in his body in a short time. Hell, if you ask me, I did everything but inject the guy myself.”