Jose Canseco’s new book, Vindicated: Big Names, Big Liars, and the Battle to Save Baseball, was officially released on April 1, 2008. There were very few surprises after Joe Lavin acquired and wrote about the book on March 25.
For the most part, the book chronicles Canseco’s life since Juiced was published in 2005. It describes the book tour (for Juiced, of course), the Mitchell Report, the 2005 Congressional Hearings and various anecdotes along the way.
As far as players Canseco discussed, Alex Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro and Barry Bonds featured prominently (details for each player below).
As is well known now, Canseco made new allegations that he had educated and injected Ordonez with steroids and introduced Rodriguez to a known trainer/steroid dealer. Other than that there was very little new information.
Canseco was fixated on how everyone had called him a liar and went to great lengths to prove he was telling the truth. He took two lie-detector tests answering questions about Rodriguez, Ordonez, and most of the players he named in Juiced. The tests utilized “very different approaches” administered by two well respected forensic pysochphysiologists. One tester, Jack Trimarco, performed polygraphs for the FBI during investigations of the Unibomber, Whitewater and the Oklahoma City bombing while head of the LA Field Office Polygraph Unit.
Canseco also described a conversation he had with Mike Wallace after Canseco’s 60 Minutes interview in 2005. According to Canseco, Wallace asked if they could talk off camera after the interview and Wallace grilled Canseco about what the drugs could do for him.
When the cameras stopped rolling, Wallace asked me if we could talk, off camera. He kept me there for another hour, clearly curious about steroids. He had more questions and more intelligent questions than I’d heard in the years of counseling my fellow players. He wondered how the steroids and human growth hormones (HGH) might help him, a man in his eighties, live a longer, healthier life. He wanted to know everything. How long it took for the drugs to kick in. The potential side effects. The effects on mental clarity. How they made you look - could they change your face? He was hungry for information, and he’d come to the right guy: the God-father of Steroids. I answered every question, and I did it gladly. Everyone is interested in living longer and living better.
There was one pretty major blunder in the book. Canseco brought up the incident in 1988 when Washington Post columnist, Tom Boswell, described Canseco as a “conspicuous” steroid user. Canseco said it took place in 1998, but this wasn’t any old typo.
Canseco was describing the 1998 season when he hit 46 home runs but “nobody noticed” because Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were both chasing Roger Maris’ single season home run record. Then he says:
That same year, in September 1998, to be precise, a baseball writer described me as “the most conspicuous example of a player that made himself great with steroids.”
He describes an incident that took place “a day or two later” it Toronto against the Red Sox when the fans were booing so he “struck a pose” and flexed his muscles. Then he talks about the “following year” when he played for Tampa.
Barry BondsOne subject not covered by Lavin on his blog or Canseco in his Nightline interview was Barry Bonds. Canseco tells the story of the Big League Challenge (a home run hitting contest) in February 2000 (also described in Game of Shadows).
I took off my shirt and Bonds was staring at me, his eyes bugging out of his head. “Man,” he said, “you are ripped!”
“You have to tell me what the hell you’ve been doing,” he said.
I’ll tell you after the game,” I said.
Bonds hadn’t even made the finals, and he was in a lousy mood, but he waited for me because he wanted us to have our little talk. I told him everything I knew. It was Jose Canseco’s Guide to Steroids 101, and over the years I’d had that identical conversation with hundreds of other guys, players and nonplayers alike.
About a year later, when the regular season got under way, Bonds showed up with an extra thirty pounds on him, all of it muscle. And I’ll be the first to tell you: you don’t get that kind of muscle just from working out. It’s literally impossible. Now I’m not saying I was him use the stuff, because I didn’t, but I was pretty much an expert on the subject of steroids, and I can tell you that steroids changed the man – including the size of his goddamn head. That head was hard to miss!
Canseco also describes another conversation with Bonds after bumping into him some time around 2003 (he’s not specific).
The first words out of Barry’s mouth, before even a hello, were straight to the point, but I didn’t understand what the hell he was trying to tell me. “I’m not on steroids,” he said. “I’m not doing anything.” He picked up his shirt to show me his new, smaller body.
Why are you telling me? I said. “Why are you trying to make me believe that you’re clean? Why would I give a shit?”
“What are you getting so upset about, man? I’m just saying.”
Alex RodriguezCanseco clearly doesn’t like Alex Rodriguez. He claims to have not mentioned Rodriguez in Juiced because he hated him so much that he thought people would question his motives for writing the book. Canseco’s anger stemmed from Rodriguez’s interest in Canseco’s wife, Jessica, whom Rodriguez repeatedly said was the “most beautiful woman in the world.”
The very next time he came over, he asked me point blank, where one would go to get steroids if one wanted them. He was a cautious, cagey guy, Alex. He didn’t say, “I want to buy steroids. Can you point me in the right direction?” Or, more accurately, as far as I’m concerned, he did say it, but not in those exact words.
“Yeah,” I said. “I know where one would go if one wanted to buy steroids.” I looked right at him. He actually seemed a little nervous. “If you want, I can introduce you to some guys. In fact, I know a guy with plenty of access, and he also happens to be a very good trainer.”
“That would be good,” A-Rod said. “I’d like to meet this guy. Is this a guy you can trust?”
Magglio OrdonezOrdonez was apparently left out of Juiced because Canseco felt a “connection” and was “playing favorites.” After juiced was released, Canseco said he reached out to Ordonez because he wanted to talk to someone that would understand that he had told the truth. Ordonez never returned his calls when all Canseco was “in a time of need, (and) just looking to talk.”
Maggs became a friend. He approached me and was up-front about what he wanted, and what he wanted was for me to tell him everything I knew about steroids…
When it was all said and done, when Maggs had the information he needed, he told me he was in. A few days later, we went into a back room in the clubhouse, and I jabbed a needle into his butt.
Canseco says he never tried to extort money from Ordonez and hasn’t spoke with him in the last 6 years. Both of those details were also covered in the polygraph tests.
Roger ClemensCanseco said he believed Clemens for two reasons. For one, Canseco says both claims Brian McNamee made relating to Canseco never happened and therefore he doesn’t believe
I spent many hours with Roger and his lawyers – there were three or four of them in the room, which was a little overwhelming – and they crafted a document based on our on-going talks. At one point they asked me if it was okay to include the following:
“I have never had a conversation with Cllemens in which he expressed any interest in using steroids or human growth hormone. Clemens has never asked me to give him steroids or human growth hormone, and I have never seen Clemens use, possess, or ask for steroids or human growth hormone.
“I have played on three teams with Roger Clemens and I have no reason to believe that he has ever used steroids, human growth hormone, or any other performance-enhancing drugs.”
Canseco admitted he had a problem with the second part of that statement because he had suspected Clemens of using because of his performance late in his career. But he signed the document because he didn’t have a “one single specific reason that convinces (him), beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Roger was juicing.”
If it sounds confusing, that’s because it was confusing. I had an abrupt change of heart, yes and I wish I could explain it better. I felt bad for Roger, sure, and I let myself get sucked into his drama. And maybe that’s exactly what Roger and his Lawyers wanted. I honestly can’t say. All I can say is that suddenly Roger had me believing he had never juiced.