Remember back when the Edmonton Trappers were an MLB affiliate, and players like Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi and Johan Santana rolled through town on occasion?
Well, another big name from that era is at Telus Field all weekend!
Jose Canseco, a man once destined for Cooperstown, is now almost 47 years old and playing for and managing the North American Baseball League’s Yuma Scorpions alongside his brother Ozzie. He certainly had the numbers to back up a Hall of Fame claim, but his literary work, namely “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big,” derailed any hope of that ever becoming a reality. Back in 2005, no one believed him. Nowadays though, no one looks at players from that era the same way.
On Thursday night at Telus Field, Canseco says blacklisted or not, he feels like he made a difference to the game he loves.
"It was definitely not a PR stunt,” Canseco says. “I hope and I know that it's helped Major League Baseball. I know it's helped make it a complete, even playing field now, and hopefully it saved some kid's life down the line.”
The man who became the poster boy for steroid use in pro ball says though that people give too much credit to the chemicals.
“I have an identical twin brother...he used the same steroids I did, he did the same workouts I did, ate the same foods, nutrition that I used - he never made it to the big leagues. That just goes to show you, don't give too much credit to steroids, that 'oh it made the player a superstar' - steroids don't make you a superstar, you make yourself a superstar."
Canseco says that he held out hope for a while that other players would back up the things he said in “Juiced,” but he understands that Major League Baseball is a very powerful organization and anyone hoping for a future with the league couldn’t speak up. Despite that, he says the game has turned right around when it comes to performance enhancing drugs.
"I think it's 100 percent clean, I really do,” Canseco says. “I think the testing now is adequate and the whole process of, if you're caught, you're not going to be spanked on the hand now - your salary is going to be taken away, you're [going to be suspended] and in some instances, your career could be taken away."
Despite battling through injuries to start the NABL season, Canseco has featured at a few positions, including pitcher, for the Scorpions. After a rough outing last week though, he says you shouldn’t expect to see him on the mound anytime soon! Canseco was toasted for six runs in just over two innings of work on a day where he says he just couldn’t find the strike zone.
“I wear many hats as a player, the way I performed out there when I was playing, as a character in baseball, as an entertainer,” says Canseco, talking about how he sees himself. “[I’m a] knowledgeable manager now who knows how to play the game and experienced a lot of things on and off the field.”
“Hopefully that can translate to teaching these young kids how to play the game properly – what to do and what not to do, on and off the field. Hopefully with that experience, it’s going to help them out a lot.”
Since his MLB days, Canseco has dabbled in everything from celebrity boxing, to MMA, to reality TV, but he says he hopes that when people look back on his actions, they’ll remember him as the guy who “saved the game of baseball” and helped kids avoid steroids.
“Is the game of baseball now clean, is it an even playing field? Are kids not looking at steroids to become bigger, faster, stronger? Definitely."
What do you think: Did Jose Canseco “save” the game of baseball?