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Juiced By Jose Canseco

Jose Canseco is a controversial figure, this much we know is true; everything else is kind of unclear.

Professional athletes looking for an edge – an illegal edge – is as old as professional sports, but things took a terrible turn in the late 1980’s when a young Cuban immigrant named Jose Canseco broke into the big leagues with the Oakland A’s.

After a turbulent career, things only got stranger for the proclaimed godfather of steroids. So in his book Juiced, Canseco lays outs his life, his career, and his role in introducing baseball to infamous world of steroids. I honestly tried to sympathize with Canseco’s situation, but in the end I still found Canseco to be an egotistical, has been looking for honor and glory.

Canseco credits himself as the savior of baseball and revolutionary who will one day be honored when professional sports accept steroids. Though I can understand his “savior” of baseball argument considering the 1994 MLB strike and the 1998 home run chase, I cannot comprehend the declaration that steroids will one day be as customary as ice packs and sunflower seeds. Perhaps I am a little too present-minded and traditional to see professional sports encouraging steroids.

While reading Juiced, I got confused on whom the real Jose Canseco is. At one moment he talks about baseball as if it is just a means to an end, then a few chapters later he treats the sport as if it is a religion. He credits steroids for making him a great athlete, but later explains that he is the talent and that steroids only supplemented his abilities. He considers himself a steroids expert but never once does he considered the idea that his use of performance enhancing drugs may have multiplied his trips to the disabled list.

As much as he tries to fool you, Canseco did not know what he was doing. For a steroid enhanced athlete, he had a few fantastic seasons but a forgettable career. If it was not for the steroid controversy the name Jose Canseco would have lost to long list of notable rookies with lackluster careers.

Though my feelings for Canseco may be sour, I did find the book interesting as a time capsule. When you read it today in the post-steroid era, you really do see how much the owners, the union, and the fans all turned a very, very blind eye to the issues. Everyone is to blame for the steroid era, yet only the players get the guilty verdict.