25 March 2008

Canseco's Juice is Running Out...

Rob Neyer's got a blog entry today about Jose Canseco's new book. Apparently someone named Joe Lavin got a copy from a bookstore a little sooner than anticipated, though it would surprise me if some of the usual book-reviewing types had not already been given a copy.

Of course, River Avenue Blues thinks that the original is a satire anyway, a fake. Looking at the original column, I don't see how it can be anything but a fake. Lavin says that Canseco includes a profane, personal attack/insult to Alex Rodriguez at the end of one chapter, which is something I can't imagine a publisher allowing, or even a ghost writer, as Jose had last time with Steve Kettmann. I doubt he's so refined his writing skills in the last three years that he no longer needs a ghost writer, and I can't imagine that even the most ineperienced one would let something like that through.

Lavin says that Canseco was upset that he didn't get mentioned more in the Mitchell Report, quoting him as saying "I was Mitch-slapped!" There is no way on God's green Earth that Jose Canseco is clever enough to have thought of that on his own. And if his ghost writer suggested it, he would have just looked at him quizically, like your dog looks at you when he can't figure out what you've done with the rest of the coookie you were eating, the one that's now "hidden" in your other hand.

Lavin says that Canseco attests to having taken two lie detector tests, and that the results are in the book. This is ridiculous. I've seen the movies. I know how these things work. The results of a polygraph test would take pages and pages of space in a book. You get readings of heart rate, pulse, body temperature, stuff like that, and it all comes out on a running chart on which there are lots of jagged lines, none of which are meaningful unless you know

A) What questions were being asked when those particular readings were taken

2) What the readings looked like when he was asked innocuous questions with either true or false answers, and

iii) How much of a difference in those readings is significant.

He could have published the results of a seismograph machine from somewhere under the San Francisco Bay and 99% of us would never know the difference. In other words, you have to be a trained polygraph reader, and even then, the experts can disagree. Which is one of the reasons these things are not admissible in court. (The other being that all judges are psychic and can tell when you're lying, anyway!)

Toward the end, Lavin says that Canseco describes a lengthy conversation with CBS's octogenarian news anchor Mike Wallace about he potential benefits of HGH, and Levin ends his column as follows:

Yes, apparently, Mike Wallace could be juiced. It makes sense. How else to explain how Wallace has stayed on top of his game well into his eighties? No word yet on whether Andy Rooney is juiced too.

This is tongue-in-cheek, here, folks. Wallace took a lot of flak last year for his interview with Roger Clemens, in which he clearly was NOT at the top of his game. He's a big name, certainly, but he's a soft touch these days, and a personal friend of Clemens, which was exactly why Roger chose him for the interview. He violated two of the three classic journalism blunders, the most famous of which is 'never get involved in a land war in Asia', but only slightly less well known are 'ask tough questions' and 'make sure you can remain objective'.

And besides, even if Mike Wallace did want to learn about HGH, do you think he would actually risk talking to Jose Canseco about it? He may be old and crotchety and not much of an interviewer anymore, but the man is not stupid. Jose Canseco wrote a book three years ago, and is publishing another one in which he supposedly divulges confidential information form personal conversations with people who trusted him at the time...why would Wallace confide in this guy?

Getting back to Canseco, I read and reviewed his book Juiced as well, and found it mostly pretty interesting, but that was because it was chocked full of what were (at the time) mostly new revelations.

This new one, whether Lavin actually read it or not, appears to be just an effort by Canseco to make a few bucks by jumping on the bandwagon. Though it should be noted that he started this whole thing by pushing that bandwagon down the hill three years ago. At the time, many of his accusations were based on first hand experience of injecting or supplying other players, though now it just sounds like he's accusing anyone who's a big name and might make a splash for his book to get some press.

I've already got a couple of other books to review, both of which seem like they'll be more interesting and better written than Canseco's new offering, and I won't even get to them until I've gotten through Baseball Prospectus 2008 and drafted my fantasy team. I expect that Canseco's sequel to Juiced will be a lot like The Matrix: Revolutions and everything Erik Hinske's done since he won the 2002 AL Rookie of the Year - a lot less interesting, and only still there because there's a lot of money involved.

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