Posted on Apr 21st 2012 by Steve.
“I am and will always be just simply a baseball player,my tomb stone will just say. Baseball.” – Jose Canseco, via Twitter
It was announced yesterday that the Worcester Tornadoes, my local Can-Am League baseball team, had just made the biggest signing in their history. In fact, this could have been the biggest signing in the league’s short history. Bigger than Brockton getting Bill “Spaceman” Lee to toss a couple of games to sell some tickets, bigger than Quebec signing former Cy Young-winning closer Eric Gagne to help him try to find his edge again. The Tornadoes signed one of the most polarizing figures in the modern game at the age of 47 – none other than Jose Canseco.
"@SHAQ we gonna fight or what"
If you’re unfamiliar, here’s a brief rundown of Canseco’s career as I remember it. Jose exploded onto the scene with the Oakland Athletics in the mid-eighties, where, along with Mark McGwire, he would become the first-ever player to hit 40 home runs and steal 4o bases in one season. The A’s went on to win the World Series in 1989 thanks to Canseco. It’s not that he was the one doing all the heavy lifting, though. Jose had become the first truly successful steroid-using ballplayer, a seemingly late-bloomer who went from being good to godlike. After leaving the A’s, he’d play for Texas, the Red Sox, Oakland again, and then sort of started to bounce around from team to team as he became lost in the shuffle of other players who had the same amount of success in transforming themselves into supermen on the field. As baseball finally started to take the whole thing seriously, Canseco was made an example of, especially after his book Juiced hit shelves and detailed the rise of performance enhancers in the game. Jose was effectively out of baseball at the age of 37, even after getting himself clean of steroids and still being able to at the very least hit the ball.
Canseco sort of faded into obscurity after that, the way guys like Dennis Rodman and Mickey Rourke do these days. Instead of disappearing, he ended up on a parade of reality TV shows and went into boxing. And then, the public rediscovers them, and an overwhelming wave of love shines down upon them – whether genuine or ironic. Or maybe a bit of both.
I had been falling into this trap with Canseco myself, thanks to joining Twitter last summer. I had heard that Canseco was a curious case on Twitter, and started following him a few months ago. Although he has a tendency to ramble about “liars” and express the desire to “slap a hater” every now and then, Canseco also comes across as a guy who can’t leave what he loves alone. Baseball is it for Canseco, his on-again-off-again girlfriend Leila being a close second. After that, “class is in session” when Jose wakes up in the morning and drops some serious science on all of us with nuggets like “If you haters don’t stop hating I am going to kill myself and haunt you.”
Read that tweet again. He sounds crazy – but it just comes across like that in print. He’s got a good sense of humor and his crazier statements on the state of the game and steroids just don’t come across well when he’s confined to 140 characters. I watched late one night as he was invited to come join Neal Brennan, Moshe Kasher, and Doug Lussenhop on The Champs Podcast (my favorite podcast, fyi), and waited with baited breath to hear it. Canseco is well-spoken and even humble enough to sound quite normal. I think that half of his sillier tweets are just there as a joke. I think.
JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE TO DRIVE TO AUBURN, JOSE CANSECO COMES TO THE PLATE
So how did I feel when I found out that Canseco had signed on with my local team? I am personally pretty pumped. Not just in the sense that we’ll have a big celebrity in our midst in Worcester, but that we’ll have someone capable of hitting a home run over Route 290 and onto the roof of Rotman’s. I’m excited that this little team, one that I love for being who they are, will sell tickets like nobody’s business for this season. This guy could be our next folk hero, and we really haven’t had one in ages.
So, to celebrate, I immediately whipped up a plan to create a t-shirt. This is not a 900-word post designed to sell t-shirts, mind you, I just thought it might be fun.
Click it to go to the NP1 Store. Wheeeeeeeee
There it is, in the Tornadoes’ orange and black, emblazoned with one of Jose’s catchphrases. On the back is his signature number 33, proudly displayed. Wear one to Fitton Field this summer and show Jose your support. Give him a hug and thank him for saving the game of baseball. If I get him to sign the one I’ve sent away for, I might be rich, at least in Bitcoins. Keep an eye out, I am going to have to make another t-shirt ad for this one.
So when the Tornadoes get started for the 2012 season, I hope to see a lot of you there in those bargain seats while Professor Canseco shows you all that he can still hit good pitches. Hugs for everybody. Jose Canseco will complete you.