OTTAWA - Evan Malamud called his buddy Dave first.
“You’ll never believe who I just got off the phone with,” he says, gleeful.
Jose freaking Canseco.
Former American league MVP Jose Canseco.
Six-time all-star Jose Canseco.
Jose freaking Canseco.
These days, the giant slugger — out of the majors since 2002 — has taken to Twitter and become somewhat of a Charlie Sheen of baseball.
He’s offered to play for Magic Johnson’s Dodgers for free, challenged the Iron Sheik, Mike Tyson and Shaq to a fight — in fact, he’s challenged anyone to a fight. He pitches sitcoms starring himself, describes speeding incidents where he was pulled over in a “Lambo” because the cops just wanted to see inside the car.
He claims he completes us.
But mostly, he’s all about the challenge.
Malamud challenged him, all right — to a home run derby. In Ottawa.
“Are you challenging me?” Canseco asked Malamud when the beer-league softballer reached out via Twitter and offered his phone number.
“Yup, I am.”
This is the language Canseco understands.
“People who lack courage bore me,” Canseco recently tweeted. He had appealed for anyone “brave” to come up with “something cool.”
The pair chatted for about 20 minutes and the derby qualified.
Where former heavyweight champs and wrestlers said no to a head-to-head with Canseco, a Sears appliance salesman from Ottawa said hell yes.
“He’s up for anything,” Malamud says, adding Canseco was willing to make the derby happen in three weeks.
He even waived his $5,000 appearance fee because Malamud arranged with CHEO that proceeds from the derby will benefit their foundation — with particular attention to be given to the hospital’s autism unit.
It’s a unit Malamud raves endlessly about. His five-year-old, Jaedyn, is autistic. Canseco has even agreed to visit kids at CHEO and sign autographs. Though, there’s probably more than a reasonable chance hospital staff aren’t immediately keen to have the admitted juicer, recently banned from the Mexican league, set loose in their hallways.
Not only has Malamud been in touch with CHEO, but he’s got the Ottawa Fat Cats thinking, meeting and plotting.
What if this derby could happen at Ottawa Stadium?
What if Canseco is being truthful when he says he’s willing to play for any team?
Would he go for a one-day contract?
Maybe they could retire his jersey after the game?
Jose Canseco: Oakland A’s, Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankee, Chicago White Sox ... Ottawa Fat Cats.
Maybe. Who knows?
Fat Cats president Brian Carolan says there are definite possibilities — if Canseco plays ball, literally and metaphorically.
“We did have some interesting discussions concerning Canseco,” he said. “We will be meeting early next week to see if we can pull this together. I think we should have a final decision by mid/end of next week.”
And so the stage is nearly set for a beer league dishwasher slinger to have a dinger duel with one of the all-time greats. He’s already begun training.
“I’m going to eat eggs and do push-ups.”
“I’m going to have protein shakes too,” he says. “Now I’m giving my secrets away.”
Regardless, as long as Canseco doesn’t manage to succeed in getting in on the next season of Survivor (true story) — this could happen.
Is No. 33 available?