The Commish Online                                                                                
Chasing the Dollar and Losing Sense
February 9, 2005

Killing two birds with one stone, it’s time to answer some reader mail and give me opinion on the current hot topic:

Hey Commish

…what's your take on Jose Canseco ratting everyone out just to make a buck?


My answer lies right in the very question being asked: the only reason for ratting out former teammates a decade and a half later is to make a quick buck.  If Jose Canseco wanted to bring “awareness” to the public, he could have admitted his own steroid use and brought up the fact that he was not alone.  Once you start naming names, credibility lessens because the motives become suspect.  Naming names might add a slice of realness to the situation, but the effect of giving up other people’s secrets is hardly as damaging as the revelation is to those involved, especially the wrongfully accused.

Years behind the times, Canseco’s new book doesn’t exactly remove the mask of naiveté from the public’s eyes; that garment was tossed when players started reporting to training camp many pounds lighter and several neck sizes smaller once testing began in MLB.  Ken Caminiti already went public about his use and what he believed was a rampant problem in baseball, so Canseco’s only motivation for speaking up now is to sell books – hardly a cause worthy of throwing many of your ex-teammates under a bus.

Speaking of ex-teammates, the public has gained nothing from this “new” information about Canseco’s teammates because it still remains speculation.  On one hand, the public knows that steroids exist in baseball and would not be surprised to learn that some of baseball’s brightest stars were users.  On the other hand, when the news is coming from one of baseball’s least trustworthy players, the comments create more confusion, especially when they are about the players the public trusts the most.  Of course, the accused have all denied the charges, even though the public knows that at least some of what Canseco says must be true.  The public and the players are left in a no-win situation: fans become suspicious of any player who adds a few long balls to his career totals, and past players will forever be defending their achievements.

In the end, Canseco’s words probably have caused us to like our heroes a little less, even though we don’t believe half of what he says because of his questionable motivations.  We begin to judge today’s players with a stricter eye even though they are a result of today’s society.  There are still honest, hardworking players in today’s game, and believing that yesterday’s players in the era of Mantle and Mays were better people because of what they didn’t do is failing to look at the whole picture.  Had those players had the separation of lifestyle from the average Joe at the office because of the millions thrust upon them, they also would have found ways to cheat (not that they didn’t already) if it meant gaining a slight edge which would lead to a fat contract and a house on the hill.  Like today’s players, they all wouldn’t have cheated, and many would have remained true to the game, but there would have been a Jose Canseco in every era, spilling the beans long after anyone cared.