Sunday, August 05, 2007

Jose Canseco

In view of the fact that the disgraced steroid-abusing San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds recently tied one of Major League Baseball's most hallowed records, Hank Aaron's lifetime home run record, I decided that it was time to add a profile a washed-up sports celebrity. The first washed-up sports celebrity that I will profile is Jose Canseco.

I. Jose Canseco’s Early Life

Jose Canseco, born July 2, 1964 in Havana, Cuba, is a former a former Major League outfielder and designated hitter. Canseco grew up in a suburb of Miami, Florida with his family and twin brother Ozzie Canseco. He was drafted by the Oakland Athletics directly out of high school and eventually became one of the best players in baseball was well on his way to the Hall of Fame until his career unexpectedly short-circuited, leaving him disgraced and destitute.

As a 15-year old youth at Coral Park high school, Canseco stood about 5'11" and weighed 155 pounds. He was too small to play football, so he joined the school's baseball team. He claims that he wasn't good enough to play varsity right away, so he was relegated to the junior varsity team until his senior year. Canseco was a natural athlete with good hand-eye coordination and was good enough to earn the MVP award on this JV team during his junior year. Several members of the varsity team graduated after his junior year, and Canseco finally received his chance to play on the varsity team as a senior in high school. Canseco's skills continued rapidly improved throughout high school and he performed well enough to earn the team's MVP award as a senior in high school.

II. Canseco’s Time In The Minor Leagues

Canseco was drafted by the Oakland A's in the fifteenth round of 1982 amateur draft and received a $10,000 signing bonus. Canseco began his minor league career in a Pioneer league team in Idaho Falls. Canseco struggled during his 28 games at Idaho Falls, hitting barely .260 with only two home runs. He played against eventual major league pitcher David Wells during his early years in the minor leagues. David Wells had the following to say about Canseco at the time:

"Staring down this poor sap from the pitcher's mound, his uniform flapping loosely in the breeze, I remember thinking, Jesus Christ, this guy could Hula-Hoop inside a Cheerio. The toothpick's name was Jose Canseco, and before the game was over, I'd beat him for four dribbled groundouts and a nice, fat K."

Canseco continued to toil in the minor leagues for the next couple years. In 1984, he made a deathbed promise to his mother that he was going to be the best athlete in the world, no matter what it took to do so. At the end of the 1984 minor league season, Canseco stood at 6'4" and weighed a thin 185 pounds. However, during the off-season Canseco lifted weights like a madman and started injecting himself (a.k.a. "juicing") with anabolic steroids in an effort to make it to the major leagues.

By the start of the 1985 season, Canseco had gained 25 pounds of rock-solid muscle and started looking more like a body-builder than a baseball player. Canseco was tearing the cover off of the ball; hitting .318 with 25 home runs and 80s RBIs in only 58 games for the A's Double-A team in Huntsville, Alabama. He again faced pitcher David Wells, who had this to say about Canseco:

"One year later ... Canseco and I would cross paths again ... and I was stunned to find that 'the Idaho skinny guy' had somehow grown up to become a freaking Macy's balloon. Brand-new biceps ripped out from under his uniform sleeves. Thick slabs of beef padded his formerly bony frame. A pair of tree trunks now connected to his ankles. Seven innings and two 450-foot moon shots later, I still had no idea what to make of this new improved mutant. Was this kind of super-size growth spurt even possible? What the hell was this monster eating?"

III. Canseco’s Major League Career

Canseco was called up by the A's at the end of the 1985 season, and hit .302 with 5 home runs in 29 games. The following season was his break-through year, as he 33 home runs, was named to the All-Star team, and won the American League Rookie of the Year award. Canseco kept his juicing while at the major league level and followed up with another solid season in 1987.

During the subsequent season, 1988, Canseco had his finest season, winning the American League MVP award in a unanimous decision and becoming the first player in major league history to join the 40-40 club (i.e., hit at least 40 home runs and steal at least 40 bases in the same season). Canseco also played on perhaps the best team during the 1980s. Mark McGwire was his power-hitting teammate, and the two of them were known as the "Bash Brothers" because they were both huge and gave each other forearm bashes after hitting home runs. The 1988 Oakland Athletics made it to the World Series, losing to the L.A. Dodgers in one of the biggest World Series upsets in the past 25 years.

Canseco's 1989 season was cut short by injuries, although he did return in time to help his team win the World Series. By the end of the 1980s, Canseco was on the fast-track to the Hall of Fame. He was one of the most popular players in the game of baseball, but he quickly fell by the wayside as his career spectacularly collapsed.

IV. Canseco Becomes the Butt of Jokes

In 1992 he was traded to the Texas Rangers. During the 1993 season, Canseco received unwanted attention for two on-field debacles that occurred within days of each other. In a May 26th game against the Cleveland Indians, Canseco was playing right field when Carlos Martínez of the Indians hit a fly ball that Canseco lost in the lights as he ran over near the warning track. The ball hit him in the head and bounced over the wall for a home run. In 1998, This Week in Baseball rated Canseco's blunder as the greatest blooper of the show's first 21 years. After the incident, the Harrisburg Heat offered him a soccer contract.

Three days later, Canseco asked his manager, Kevin Kennedy, to let him pitch the eighth inning of a blowout loss to the Boston Red Sox. Unfortunately, Canseco threw out his arm and had to undergo Tommy John surgery, and was lost for the remainder of the season.

Canseco's personal life also had its troubles, starting in the late 1980s. 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. Canseco divorced Haddad in 1991 and married Jessica Sekely in 1996. He was later 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 Ozzie were involved 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 for his role in the incident and was eventually sentenced to two years of house arrest.

Canseco fell off of the baseball radar for much of the mid-late 1990s, although did have a productive season again in 1998, in which he hit 46 home runs and stole 29 bases for the Toronto Blue Jays. Canseco received some criticism for selfishly attempting to steal too often, seeing as though his was caught stealing 17 times. Canseco then went to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, where he was having an excellent home run season in 1999 (34 in 114 games; and was voted an All-Star) until he injured his back and was lost for the season.

Canseco's career finally ended in 2001. By this point, Canseco was jealous of all of the attention being paid to former Bash Brother, Mark McGwire. He also felt bitter and claimed that he was being blackballed by major league baseball.

V. Canseco’s Tell-All Book and Steroid Admission

Canseco decided to get even with the sport that he felt had turned its back on him by exposing rampant steroid abused. In 2005, Canseco admitted to using anabolic steroids in a best-seller tell-all book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big. Canseco also claimed that up to 85% of major league players took steroids, a figure disputed by many in the game. In the book, Canseco specifically identified former teammates Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi, Rafael Palmeiro, Iván Rodríguez, and Juan González as fellow steroid users, and that he injected them. He further claimed that he, McGwire and Jason Giambi all crowded together naked in a bathroom stall at the Oakland Coliseum and shot each other up with steroids.

Juiced was an interesting book and led to a 2005 steroid hearing in front of the U.S. Congress, during which Canseco and several other professional baseball players were subpoenaed to testify under oath about steroid use in baseball. It was at this hearing that McGwire evaded the question of whether he had used steroids, substantially hurting his later chances for election into baseball's Hall of Fame.

In Juiced, Canseco wrote about the effect of drug abuse on his genitals in a couple paragraphs that were completely unnecessary. He wrote that rampant steroid use had shrunken his testicles, but that his abuse of Human Growth Hormone had counteracted the effects by making his penis grow larger.

VI. Falling on Hard Times

Canseco earned over $45 million during his major league career. However, he somehow managed to piss away his personal fortune and is desperate for money. He sold his 1988 AL MVP award plaque for $30,000 and his Rookie of the Year ring for $5,100 on eBay.

He was sentenced to two years of house arrest for his role in the 2001 nightclub brawl and in 2003 auctioned an afternoon with himself on eBay with bids starting at $2,500.

VII. Conclusion

Canseco is broke and bitter about how his baseball career turned out. He also claims that there was an anti-Cuban conspiracy against him to hold him down. I don't believe his allegations, as in the late-1980s he was the favorite player of many of the kids I knew. The media loved him and he even had a brief relationship with Madonna.

I think he should be commended for coming forward and exposing the use of performance enhancing drugs in baseball. That's apparently not good enough for Canseco, as he seems to want everyone associated with professional baseball to come forward and kiss his ass. The guy made a fortune during his career but blew through it quickly and will now do anything for a few bucks. He even stooped so low as to appear on the Surreal Life for $50,000 in 2005.

Canseco was undoubtedly the best player during the late 1980s and threw it all away to become a destitute laughingstock, all within the matter of a few years. Accordingly, there should be no doubt that Jose Canseco is one washed-up sports celebrity!

*** Update - May 1, 2008 ***

It was reported today that Jose Canseco lost his $2.5 million mansion in Encino, CA to foreclosure today. Canseco said that he owed more than what the mansion is worth and that it made financial sense for him to simply walk away from his home. It's simply amazing to me that someone who made more than $45 million from playing major league baseball blew through his vast fortune already. I guess that's why he's a washed-up sports celebrity!

*** Update - July 24, 2008 ***

Jose Canseco is so hard up for money that he has begun appearing in celebrity boxing matches. On July 12, 2008, Canseco stepped into the ring with Vai Sikahema, a former NFL running back/kicker. The 44-year old Canseco, at 6'4" tall, towered over the 5'9" tall Sikahema. Canseco must have thought that this would be an easy fight. Canseco, however, was terribly mistaken as he got his ass kicked and was knocked out a mere 97 seconds into the first round. When asked about Canseco's size advantage, Sikahema said, "Whatever size advantage he had it was negated by his stupidity."

Canseco apparently engaged in some trash talking before the match, making gestures towards Sikahema's corner prior to the fight in which he was slashing his finger across his throat. In Canseco's defense, Sikahema is an experienced amateur boxer with 80 fights under his belt.

Canseco received a mere $35,000 for his pummelling. Apparently there was little public interest in this fight, as there were only about 1,250 spectators in the 5,000 seat stadium in which the fight took place.

*** Update - July 24, 2010 ***

Jose Canseco participated in another boxing match in July 9, 2010. This time he faced Gary Hogan, the 60-year-old assistant athletic trainer for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Canseco received between $10,000 and $30,000 for his appearance.

Canseco went four rounds with Hogan and lost the bout 39-37 on the judges' scorecards. Canseco has received some criticism for his poor performance against the much older and out-of-shape Hogan. I saw a clip of the fight on youtube and it does appear as though Canseco threw the fight - it appeared as though he wasn't trying very hard.


saturn96 said...

He deserves all the shit that he gets for ratting everybody out.

saturn96 said...

he deserves all the crap that he gets especially for ratting everybody out when he himself did it. now the guy wants to talk some shit out about Arod. This douchebag will do anything for attention. I can't stand him nor will I buy any of his books.

Movie Fan said...

Thanks for the info. I didn't realize that Canseco is writing another book that will include some info about A-Rod:

Anonymous said...

I remember sitting directly behind home plate in 1994 watching a Yankees/A's game. I remember being completely amazed at how huge Canseco and McGwire were. I should have realized they were steroid ridden freaks but at that time had no clue. He's a piece of shit, but at least he was willing to admit what everyone else already knew.


joe said...

who cares...josé canseco is F*CKIN HOT!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Roided up or not, I'd still let him pound my hole! Look at the size of him - he'd cave my colon in!

Anonymous said...

It's nice to know that sportsmen from all sports, not matter where in the world, like to partake in dresser room shenanigans and not only give each other hot beef injections but also steroid boosts.


Markers2390 said...

This man did more for baseball than you'll ever know. Regardless of how he spent his money (which HE earned), he did wonders for the game of baseball. He was a baseball great & no one can take that away from him. On top of that HE was the only one willing to come forward about the steriod use in baseball. Those men he named in the book should be ashamed of themselves! Jose Canseco did baseball a service by naming names. Get those steroids out of baseball!! We shame & talk junk about those who get caught using steroids during the Olympics, why should baseball be any different? If you can't forgive Jose Canseco, then you shouldn't forgive those other steroid users either. As far as I'm concerned, Jose Canseco is a hero for what he did.. I really hope he gets his life together. He needs a lot of support and help to get off of the drugs (steroids). I for one, am in his corner. Everyone deserves to live a great life, regardless of their past.

Unknown said...

Most ballplayers today are taking homeopathic growth hormone oral spray because it's safe, undetectable, and legal for over the counter sales. As time goes on it seems it might be considered as benign a performance enhancer as coffee, aspirin, red bull, chewing tobacco, and bubble gum.

Anonymous said...

Baseball is a boring ass sport. I could care less about steroid use in sports. Who gives a shit?

Nards of Goat said...

So I guess this spic bastard recently got his ass handed to him on a plate by a 60-year-old boxer. Not exactly a morale booster, nor does it make me wanna pump his culo full of stud seed, but I will always harken back to the days, decades ago, when I used to blow my pecker snot all over his Donruss & Upper Deck rookie cards. Fond memories, you washed up piece of shit! No thanks for turning your life a complete 180!

Anonymous said...

Good post. I remember another pro "fight" (not mentioned here) he had with one of the other entries on your site -- Danny Bonaduce. Wasn't televised (thank God) but the pictures are priceless:

Anonymous said...

I wonder if he'd take money for sex now? He makes me hot. I'd give him a few bucks for a roll in the hay. I'm mean if he's gonna take money for getting beat up, doesn't it make more sense to take it for getting a blow job?? It's a fair question I think.

Anonymous said...

He and his brother are coaching and playing for the Yuma Scorpions (Yuma, Arizona), a minor league team in the Golden League.

sunshine said...

As we all read this story remember no one is perfect, not even you. I find Jose's life interesting and would love one day for Jose to throw a ball to my son. Cole.B. I would love to be such an accomplished baseball player, but in my day women ballplayers didn't go anywhere. I love to watch him today, from a womens point of view, and I mean view, he's attractive and theirs not that many good looking men left, I mean Ken wahl's not in the public eye, but luckily theirs channing tatum. It's his life, make the best of it, we succeed, we make mistakes thats life. Keep smiling Jose, your ex-wife seems real, and you both made a beatiful daughter, thats all that really counts in life. Family and happiness, and a few good friends!!! CB

Eddie R said...

I wonder if Mark McGwire ever spit shined Jose's bat?

Anonymous said...

Jose sure has gone downhill. Maybe he can appear on Hollywood Squares.

Anonymous said...

Eddie R. I'm sure MarkMcGuwire spit shined something of his.

Unknown said...

Now he's doing erectile dysfunction commercials for some snake oil late night tv scam......LMAO!,,,
Washed up spick!