Vindicated by Jose Canseco

Vindicated

It should be no surprise that this was one of the books that I eagerly dove into — from the minute I found out that it would be published, to the original publisher dropping it and the book moving to a new publisher, to the early leaks from the book — all of it made me really want to get my hands on it.

And maybe that was mistake number one — I’ve learned not to get my hopes up more than once…but like Speed 2 or Caddyshack 2, we all make mistakes.

Think back to how you felt when you read Juiced – assuming you read it, of course. I’ve heard people say they’d never read it because it was full of lies, they didn’t want to believe Canseco, or they just didn’t like the guy. But when I read it – it was a mix of page turning suspense with a dose of disbelief and disgust.

I didn’t get the same emotions when I read Juiced however. The first chunk — seemingly almost half the book — is Canseco saying “I told you so!” in one form or another. I can see why he’d do that – especially after the Mitchell Report came out between his two books. Canseco throws out polygraph tests that he took as proof of his testimony – yet there is never anything official referenced by the people who administered the tests. Would it be too much to get a scan of a certified letter of performance? While I think Canseco should treat his books like sworn testimony, he certainly does not.

As Rob Neyer of ESPN.com points out in his Big Book of Baseball Legends, Canseco wasn’t accurate about  the information he put in the book about his playing time with the Yankees…when you can’t be accurate about the little things, you have to wonder about the big things.

Unless you really don’t. I think Canseco would be more accurate when he says he injected other players with steroids. Look at it this way — I remember most of the girls I ever went out with…but I don’t remember what we did, what they were wearing, what I was wearing, or their phone number. Some things you remember, some you don’t.

And that’s really the crux of the argument — do you believe Canseco? Personally, I do – but I think there’s a lot of muck in the water to sift through before we’ll really know what lies on the ocean floor. There’s a lot of my word versus his word going on…and I think that the majority of evidence needed to convict one side or the other probably doesn’t exist. You’d like to think that the guys who did use steroids wouldn’t be stupid enough to leave a paper trail – but as we saw in the Mitchell Report, that’s not the case.

Canseco does manage some interesting points in the latter half of the book…he creates a pretty interesting conspiracy theory about what Major League Baseball did to cover their own backsides, which is likely a whole different mess that will need to be untangled, and could really be the most damaging of them all. It’s one thing when members of an organization break the rules – it’s another when the organization condones and even encourages it, as Canseco suggests MLB did.

He also decides to share his theories about Roger Clemens — which are pretty far-fetched if you stop and think about them, but then again, aren’t a lot of things that happen in the world? Most of the news media wouldn’t be in business if it wasn’t for far-fetched things happening in the world.

Vindicated doesn’t get a whole-hearted recommendation from me…there’s just not enough in there to really make it a must-read, and the amount of stuff you have to sift through to get to the really engaging parts is pretty sizable. If you’re like me, you’ll probably come to a point where you’ll want to put the book down, simply because the self-congratulating Canseco wears you down with reminding you he was right.

However…since Juiced could end up becoming a book similar in stature to Jim Bouton’s Ball Four, it would be worth skimming through this if you want to keep up with the discussion on the Steroid Era of baseball.

What do you think about Jose Canseco’s Vindicated? Post your comments!

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