Little satisfaction offered in ‘Vindication’Former Major League Baseball All-Star Jose Canseco may be many things ? shameless, self-absorbed ? but reticent isn’t one of them. And his second tell-all book, “Vindicated: Big Names, Big Liars and the Battle to Save Baseball,” is further proof of that.
There is one big problem with this book. For all his promise of a big-time expose on the use of performance-enhancing substances, Canseco falls short of naming “big names.” Instead, he spends way too much time talking about himself.
In 2005, Canseco published “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ’Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big.” It was a sensation. The book named huge names such as Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro, and even forced the U.S. Congress to look into the use of steroids in baseball.
As popular and influential as that book may have been ? it topped the New York Times Best Seller List ? Juiced was also a tough act to follow for Canseco. Vindicated doesn’t quite have the same zip.
You shouldn’t look for any literary excellence in a book by a former major leaguer who wants to reveal a dirty little secret. Instead, you should look for ? pardon the pun ? juicy details and sexy names. But even when you do that, Vindicated will disappoint you.
Canseco tries to hype up his book in the introduction, promising that “two of the biggest names in baseball” are coming up. But the first half of the 259-page book is about how he feels vindicated that Juiced, which initially wasn’t received well in baseball circles, ended up becoming a best seller. He is so self-serving that an entire chapter titled “The Time Line” is devoted to the life and career of one great Jose Canseco.
As for names: Yes, Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez are mentioned and as names go, they don’t come much bigger. Clemens, with a record seven Cy Young Awards, is arguably the greatest pitcher of all time. Rodriguez, a three-time American League MVP who could break the career home run record of 762 held by Barry Bonds, is another suspected steroid user.
While he admits he has his suspicions, Canseco actually doesn’t believe Clemens took steroids and calls him his “buddy.” For the record, Clemens was among 89 major leaguers named in last December’s Mitchell Report, which looked into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.
And after detailing his workout sessions with Rodriguez, Canseco concludes he introduced Rodriguez to a personal trainer who was also “a known supplier of steroids” but offers no further details.
Canseco instead spends pages explaining how he is mad at Rodriguez for trying to seduce his then-wife, Jessica.
Canseco has suffered serious blows to his credibility since the book was published. After the Mitchell Report and Vindicated were published, Clemens was accused by his former trainer of taking steroids. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is currently investigating whether Clemens lied under oath about using performance-enhancing drugs.
The personal trainer for Rodriguez, identified as Max in Vindicated, has been revealed as Miami-based trainer Joseph Dion, who told Sports Illustrated that Canseco’s depiction of him as a “fan of steroids” who met with Rodriguez specifically to give him steroids is not true. Dion told the magazine that he is clean and he would be willing to speak with federal investigators if they wanted to ask him questions.
Canseco also mentions Detroit Tigers’ slugger Magglio Ordonez, a solid player but not exactly a household name among casual fans. And there’s very little statistical or body-size discrepancy year-to-year over Ordonez’s career, so Canseco’s claims ring hollow.
Juiced was more credible because it included accounts of him personally injecting steroids into players. But Vindicated is way too self-serving and doesn’t contain much substance.
Canseco swings and misses on Vindicated, much the way he has done hundreds of times in his playing career.
Author: Jose Canseco
Genre: Sports nonfiction
Publisher: Simon Spotlight Entertainment
By Yoo Jee-ho Staff Reporter [firstname.lastname@example.org]