Jose Canseco touches all bases in Texas return

Posted Thursday, May. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Jose Canseco has gone from an MVP and six-time All-Star to a disgraced former player with a tell-all book on steroid use in the game to now being a sideshow.

Canseco made his debut as a player/coach with the independent-league Fort Worth Cats on Thursday, and will be with the team for its opening eight-game homestand through May 31.

One reason Canseco agreed to return to the Metroplex was to catch up with his twin brother, Ozzie, who manages Edinburg.

Ozzie said it’s unfortunate that Jose has been “blackballed” from MLB, and wasn’t going to dispute the notion that his brother has become more of a circus act like the San Diego Chicken.

“They can look at it as a circus, just come on out and watch the circus and have a good time,” Ozzie said. “It’s entertainment. You can call it baseball, you can call it a circus, whatever you like. Come on out and be entertained.”

Jose was more than happy to be the center of attention in his first baseball action since 2011. He drew applause from the crowd during pregame introductions and his first at-bat, which ended in a strikeout. He singled up the middle in his second at-bat and struck out again in his third.

“If independent baseball is the only baseball that will have me, I’m more than happy to be here,” Canseco said. “Life is what it is, but I love being here. I love the ballpark.”

Canseco last played in the majors in 2001, and then delivered a bombshell in 2005 with a tell-all book detailing the widespread use of steroids. In the book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ’Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big, he named former teammates — including Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro and Ivan Rodriguez — as players who used performance-enhancing drugs.

Canseco, who will make less than $1,000 for the homestand with the Cats, touched on a variety of topics before the game.

Why did you join the Cats? Because I’m crazy. Don’t you guys know that by now? ... I love the game. As long as I can play the game in any way, shape or form, I’m going to play. It’s that simple.

Do you regret using steroids? Absolutely … I was obsessed with becoming the best player in the world. ... I was obsessed with being faster, stronger, quicker, better, more technical, doing things that no one else did. In 1988 when I became the best player in the world, I fulfilled that.

In those days, nobody really knew what steroids were. I just followed along when my friend said, ‘Do this.’ Steroids in baseball were not illegal; we didn’t even know the legality of steroids in the common public. … No one said stop it. No one said it’s illegal. And if it was, they basically said you know what? Keep doing what you’re doing.

Have you talked with any of the players you named such as Gonzalez, Palmeiro or Pudge? They’re not allowed to speak with me. I’m really not associated with Major League Baseball at all. I’m sure even today I’m not welcomed to any of their events.

Are you an easy target? Of course I’m an easy target. I’m Jose Canseco. A lot of people think I’m rich. I’m not rich. I’m going through bankruptcy. I’m going through my financial issues. Am I a target for the media? Absolutely. Am I a target for people to put themselves in the limelight? Absolutely.

You made $45 million in your career. Where’d the money go? I’ve been married twice, two divorces. I was in the era where the highest paid player was $5 million a year. Now the highest paid player is $30-35 million a year. It’s a whole different era now. Nowadays, you have the $200-300 million contract. Back then you didn’t have that. It’s a completely different industry.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that after my major contract, I was on a contract that was strictly based on plate appearances. You go back and do your due diligence; you realize that maybe Jose Canseco didn’t make as much money as you thought he did.

Do you think steroids are still an issue in baseball? You would have to be crazy to use any kind of illegal chemicals in the game right now because obviously the fines, the suspensions are incredible. They’re not slapping you on the wrist anymore. It’s costing you a lot of money, a lot of actual time away from the game. You don’t need to. It’s just ridiculous.

If there is, it’s a very, very small percentage, extremely small. The game is completely clean. If it’s an illegal substance in baseball against the rules and regulations it’s not being used.

How would you describe your role in cleaning up the game? I thought I did a lot for the game, cleaned it up completely. Before I wrote the book, all they had to say to me was, ‘Jose, help us clean up the game.’ I could’ve cleaned up the game in three months by myself because I’m the one who basically educated everybody and became successful in using steroids at that point in time. I would’ve gone to every club and said, ‘Guys, it’s over. Stop it right now.’ I could’ve cleaned the game by myself but Major League Baseball decided to do what? Use me as an example and get me out of the game to send a direct message to the players.

Is baseball better off without those monster home run totals from the Steroid Era? I don’t know because back then look what [Mark] McGwire and Sammy Sosa did with that home run race they had [in 1998], which brought back the game of baseball. They’re to be given a lot of credit for where baseball is today. They were steroids users but they did a lot for the game. A lot of players did a lot for the game and now you’ve got voters who are not electing them into the Hall of Fame, which to me is totally ridiculous. You can’t just make an era of baseball disappear.

Finally, what do you make of your time with the Rangers? Texas, I loved it for a lot of reasons. ... The ballpark was gorgeous. We had a brand new ballpark at the time. The weather was incredible, the ball carried a lot. And there were beautiful women.

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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