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Sunday, February 6, 2005

Big Mac Shot by Canseco, or Did He Shoot Himself?


We’ve known for some time that disgraced former Oakland A’s Bash Brother Jose Canseco has been writing a book.  But, what we didn’t know until a story ran in Saturday’s New York Daily News that he’s taking his closest associates in the game down with him. 


While the book is not going to be out for two weeks, enough snippets are getting out that it is clear that Canseco is naming names.  And big names they are.  Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez, Jason Giambi and yes, Mark McGwire.


Canseco apparently takes pride for being the one to have introduced steroids to the game and specifically to the players named above.  He also advocates the use of them.  One particularly disturbing image was presented.  Imagine Canseco and McGwire squeezed into a restroom stall, with the former injecting steroids into the latter’s rear end.  Not very pretty from any angle.


Over the past six years, when he’s talked about it at all, McGwire has been steady and firm in his insistence that he used only androstenedione, pills taken from the bottle discovered in his Busch Stadium locker.  However, Canseco seems to be quite clear that andro may have just been an appetizer for the muscle-mass-hungry Mac.


Yet to-date, McGwire has been able to stay on the edge of baseball’s steroid scandals based on the argument that andro was not a prohibited substance when he used it.  While it is not yet known what Canseco allegedly injected into Big Mac, the implication is certainly that it is something worse, whether banned, illegal or both.


Sure, Canseco could be lying.  He is hardly a poster boy for credibility or clean living.  But, what if he is telling the truth?


That old doubt is back.  As a result, that heavy feeling that I first had in the pit of my stomach back in 1998 has returned.  I don’t think it is going to go away anytime soon.


McGwire’s on-field legacy is well known.  With 583 career home runs, Mac was expected by many to be a first-ballot Hall of Fame shoo-in when eligible in 2007.  Many of us can recite his legacy – topped Roger Maris’ single season home run record, led his league in home runs and slugging percentage four times, set the rookie homer record, collected a World Series crown in three appearances and much more.


In fact, the 2007 Hall of Fame class was expected to be a dream group, perhaps like no other since the very first year way back in 1936.  Like Mac, the other two “locks”, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Tony Gwynn, each have spectacular career resumes.  But there’s one big difference.  The other two have squeaky clean images.


Then, we have Big Mac.  Hall of Fame voters will now have to sort through Pete Rose-level bluster over the upcoming weeks, months and years to decide for themselves.  All the debates and implications will come back, likely with some new twists.  Canseco and McGwire.  Mac and his close buddy Giambi.  Giambi and BALCO.  BALCO and Bonds.  Hispanic vs. black vs. white.  Nothing good will come from this.  Even the truth, if it is ever known.


One thing seems likely.  McGwire’s first-ballot election that seemed like a sure thing will now clearly be put in jeopardy.  At this point, there is seemingly little he can do about it.


By the way, if anyone cares, 2007 is also Canseco’s class.  Think he will get any votes?  Clearly, he’s cost some.


New York Daily News story:


7:15 pm est

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