Touted as a Ball Four for the new millennium, Jose Canseco's Juiced promises to expose not only the rampant use of performance-enhancing substances in baseball (with steroids replacing the amphetamines of Bouton's day), but the painfully human flaws of its heroes as well. A steroid devotee since the age of 20, Canseco goes beyond admitting his own usage to claim that with the tacit approval of the league's powers-that-be he acted as baseball's ambassador of steroids and is therefore indirectly responsible for "saving" the game.
Chief among his claims is that he introduced
Mark McGwire to steroids in 1988 and that he often injected McGwire while they were
teammates. According to Canseco, steroids and human growth hormones gave McGwire and Sammy
Sosa (whose own usage was "so obvious, it was a joke") the strength, stamina,
regenerative ability, and confidence they needed for a record-setting home run duel often
credited with restoring baseball's popularity after the 1994 strike. Although he devotes a
lot of ink to McGwire, Canseco envisions himself as a kind of Johnny Steroidseed,
spreading the gospel of performance enhancement, naming a number of players that he either
personally introduced to steroids or is relatively certain he can identify as fellow
users. Because Canseco plays fast and loose with some of the facts of his own career he
provides fodder for those looking to damage his credibility, but in many ways questions of
public and personal perception are what raise the book beyond mere vitriolic tell-all.
Those willing to heed his request and truly listen to what he has to say will find Juiced
to be an occasionally insightful meditation on the workings of public perception and a
consistently interesting character study. --Shane Farmer
When Jose Canseco burst into the Major Leagues in the 1980s, he changed the sport -- in more ways than one. No player before him possessed his mixture of speed and power, which allowed him to become the first man in history to belt more than forty home runs and swipe more than forty bases in the same season. He won Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, and a World Series ring.
Canseco shattered the mold of the out-of-shape
baseball player and ushered in a new era of superathletes who looked like bodybuilders,
made outrageous salaries, and enjoyed rock-star lifestyles. And the ticket for this ride?
Steroids. Behind the gaudy stats and the glamour of his public life, Canseco cultivated a
secret just about everyone in MLB knew about, one that would alter the game of baseball
and the way we view our heroes forever. Canseco made himself a guinea pig of the
performance-enhancing drugs that were only just beginning to infiltrate the American
underground. Anabolic steroids, human growth hormones -- Canseco mixed, matched, and
experimented to such a degree that he became known throughout the league as "The
Chemist." He passed his knowledge on to trainers and fellow players, and before long,
performance-enhancing drugs were running rampant throughout Major League Baseball.
Sluggers scooping up pitches at their ankles and blasting them out of the park, pitchers
cranking fastballs inning after inning -- Canseco showed the players how to customize
their doses to sculpt the bodies they wanted, and baseball as we know it was the result.