Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big
memoirs are some of the better books in the sports non-fiction aisle
of the bookstore. Jim Bouton's Ball Four set the bar high and many
players have followed suit, giving us an inside look at the game,
the camaraderie and the goings on behind the scenes. But, in the
case of most of these books, the veracity of the tales told has
never really been questioned.
Jose Canseco and his book, Juiced.
has been made about the former slugger's book and most people have
been exposed to the content on the pages, even if they've never
even seen the cover of the book in their local store. For sure,
the book contains entertaining stories and vignettes from Canseco's
playing days. But those stories from the good old days are overshadowed
by his involvement and other players' alleged involvement with steroids.
The book becomes not so much a "tell-all" as it does a
gives up the names of numerous players who allegedly joined him
in experimenting with the strength building drugs. As a result,
the book loses any of the good feelings that most baseball books
possess. Those books show baseball to be a brotherhood that is tough
to break into. Canseco seems to chuck all that into the wind by
sharing tales about his teammates that cast them in a negative light
rather than a positive one. While not making his former teammates
look good, the stories that he tells are interesting because they
deal with players that every baseball fan is familiar with.
that would be fine, if only we could be sure that Canseco was telling
the truth. At this point, we can only guess. In numerous media interviews
and a congressional hearing, Canseco has backed away from statements
made in his book, giving the public the impression that he played
fast and loose with the truth, perhaps just to sell a few books.
The most startling example of these questionable statements made
in the book is that Canseco actually extols the virtues of steroids.
In the book, he claimed that under proper medical direction, steroids
could be beneficial and posed no danger to the user. After being
heavily criticized for those statements, Canseco recanted and urged
people, especially impressionable young athletes, to avoid the drugs.
is a controversial book that is an easy read and contains lots of
fascinating information for baseball fans and those with an interest
in the current steroids scandal and Canseco remains one of the most
interesting, if cartoonish, people associated with the sport.
don't take it all to be the truth.
Reviewer Jeff Shelby is the author of "Dead Week"
and "Killer Swell."