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Now, steroids are ...
Now, steroids are back in the headlines. Record-breaking athletes are falling from grace, and the infamous Mitchell Report confirmed the names of major leaguers who have indeed used steroids while others remain under investigation. The answer is clear: Jose Canseco told the truth. And why wouldn't he? He started it all.
Finally, in Vindicated, Canseco picks up where Juiced left off, revealing details even more shocking than in his controversial first book. He spills never-before-implicated names -- arguably the biggest in the game of baseball -- and explores the mystery of one celebrated player about whom key information was suddenly excised from Juiced at the last minute. He talks candidly about what the Mitchell Report did -- and didn't -- get right, why steroid use became so rampant, and how his life has changed since he tore the lid off Pandora's box.
Lest there be any doubt about theveracity of his claims, Canseco subjected himself to three lie detector tests, one of which was conducted by a former FBI special agent and top polygraph examiner who investigated the Unabomber, Whitewater, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
Transcripts ofthose taped interviews are also included in this straight-talking examination of the current state of baseball.
This time, he's not just out to clear his name. He's out to clean up the game.
The Godfatherof Steroids
In early February 2005, some years after I left Major League Baseball, I was getting ready to launch a second career, this time as a writer. My debut book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big, was about to be published, and I guess I was as excited as any first-time author. Maybe more excited, to be honest, because I had some pretty controversial things to say about the game, and I knew I was about to really stir things up. In the book, I admitted that I had been a frequent user of anabolic steroids, a performance-enhancing drug, and I made no apologies for it. I said that 80 percent of my fellow players also did steroids, and I named names: Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi, Rafael Palmeiro, Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, and others.
I talked about how I taught many of the guys, named and unnamed, everything they needed to know about steroids, and said I shared my knowledge freely as I moved from one team to the next. Whenever anyone wanted to know anything about steroids, he always got the same answer: "Talk to Jose. Jose knows. Jose's your man." So they came, and talked, and asked questions. And I shared everything I knew, with friend and foe alike.
"The first thing you will notice is an increase in strength," I would tell them. "But you won't see much difference at the beginning. You'll feel it, though, and that'll give you a psychological edge. Then, in about four or five weeks, you'll start seeing some real, physical changes, and at that point, hell -- the sky's the limit."
I was like a goodwill ambassador, the Godfather of Steroids, and I was genuinely glad to beof help. Why? Because I was a huge fan of the stuff. I thought steroids were the future. As far as I was concerned, steroids were a miracle drug, and I thought everyone should be on them. You could build strength, heal faster, and live longer. You'd have to be crazy not to try them.
Did I think I was giving away some kind of trade secret? Was I worried about helping the other guys, guys who would compete against me on the field or try to take my job? Hell, no! Steroids didn't make me a great baseball player. I was already a great player. Steroids simply gave me an edge, physical and psychological, and I loved that about them. I loved the whole idea. So I spread the wealth. I was happy to do it. I wanted to share and I did so hundreds of times, too many times to count.
A couple of weeks before my book was scheduled to appear, I got a call from HarperCollins, the publisher. One of the names I was naming had to go, they said. That name was Roger Clemens.
"Why?" I asked. I didn't understand. This guy was a huge star. He belonged in the book.
They didn't have an answer. I asked my agent. He didn't know. My manager didn't know either. And the publisher couldn't, or wouldn't, explain it to me. I asked my book editor, the publisher herself, even the publisher's attorney -- no one could give me a decent reason.
Still, Roger Clemens was effectively excised from my book. One of the greatest players of all time, and what I really wanted to say about him and steroids was taken out of my book. Somebody, somewhere, had decided, for reasons that were never fully explained to any of us, that Roger Clemens, arguably the greatest pitcher in Major League Baseball history, seven-time winner of the Cy Young Award, the reigning Cy Young champion, was not going to be connected, in any way, to the steroid scandal.
"But why?" I protested. "All I said is that I thought Roger might have been dabbling. It's not like the other guys, the ones I saw with my own eyes."
Nobody knew why. That was essentially the answer: We don't know.
If there was a lesson to be learned from the experience, it was a pretty simple one: that stuff about the truth setting you free? It's bullshit.
I thought back to some of the lighter moments I'd shared with Roger over the years. I would hit a 500-foot homer, and his head would snap back in wonderment and awe. "Man!" he'd say. "You must have had your juice this morning!" One day, in the field, he took a look at the veins popping out of my arms, big as plow lines, and he shook his head in amazement. "I bet if I sliced that vein, Deca would fly out and hit me in the face!" (He meant Deca-Durabolin, a tissue-building steroid that manages to keep swelling to a minimum.)
On other occasions, casual as you please, Roger might say, "I think I need a B-twelve shot right about now." And off he'd go into the sunset. I didn't follow him into the sunset, or into the locker room, for that matter, but at the time I figured he was going off to juice up. That was the way baseball players commonly referred to steroids, as B12. On the other hand, for all I knew, Roger really was a fan of vitamins.
"I still don't get it," I said. "Why can't I name Clemens, when I can name all the other guys? Don't they believe me?"
"No, no, no," my lawyer told me. "They believe you. They know it's just you and a guy in a room, your word against his, which is the case with all of these players. But with Clemens, well -- it's different."
"How is it different?"
"We don't know, Jose. It just is, okay?"
"No, it's not okay. I'm not claiming I saw him juice up. I didn't. I'm talking about connecting the dots, about an educated guess."
"Well, I guess it still bothers them. You're implying that he might have taken steroids. They don't like it, and it's not going in the book."
That made no sense at all. None of it made any sense, on any level, but I couldn't do anything about it. Roger Clemens was out, and no amount of arguing was going to change that. The "offending" sections were removed, and the book quickly marched toward publication.
At that point, it was time to start the press junket. My first stop was New York City, to meet Mike Wallace and the 60 Minutes crew. They were waiting for me in a spacious loft in downtown Manhattan, empty except for a couple of chairs. As soon as they got the lighting figured out, the cameras began to roll. I looked at Wallace and plunged right in. I told him about my book, I told him about steroids and how they had taken over the game. I told him how I thought the owners had condoned steroids because they made the game more exciting and sold more tickets. I told him I used steroids while I played. And I named names. Again. I went through all the same names I'd mentioned in the book, including the one name the publisher had left out: Roger Clemens.
I admitted to Mike that I had never seen Clemens shoot up, but that I had my suspicions. All those Cy Young Awards. The way he was throwing, hard and fast and steady, without seeming to break a sweat. The way he seemed to be getting stronger as he got older. What else could it be? Good genes? Hell, while most of Clemens's peers were sitting on porches, in rocking chairs, with old dogs at their feet, he was still pitching rockets.
I went on to tell Wallace that I was a fan of steroids, within reason: "I truly believe that because I've experimented with it for so many years that it can make an average athlete a superathlete. It can make a superathlete incredible; just legendary." I also told him that I didn't think I would have hit 462 home runs or become the first player to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in the same season, back in 1988, if I hadn't juiced up. But you still needed talent. Steroids couldn't do anything for you if you didn't already have talent.
When Wallace asked me if I was ashamed of what I had done, I was honest about that, too: "That's a tough question. I tried to do everything possible to become the best player in the world. Do I believe that steroids and growth hormones helped me achieve that? Yes. Were there a lot of players doing it that I had to compete against? Yes."
I guess I never answered the question, so maybe I should try to answer it now. I wanted to be the best baseball player in the world. That was my goal, my only goal, really, and I never let things stand in the way of my goals. So in that sense, no, I'm not ashamed of it. I cared so much about winning, and about making the game more exciting for the fans, that I did what I had to do. Let's face it, when people come to the ballpark, or watch us on TV, they want to be entertained. I took steroids to make myself the greatest entertainer I could be, and that didn't seem like too high a price to pay.
Wallace went back to the names. I told him that I, personally, had injected Mark McGwire, and that I'd counseled Jason Giambi on the proper use of steroids. I also described Giambi as "the biggest juicer in baseball."
I talked about Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, and Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, juicers all. I had injected each of those men myself, on numerous occasions, and I had also watched them do the deed themselves.
"And what you're doing to baseball now -- you're taking on the whole establishment?" Wallace asked.
"I don't know if I'm directly trying to take on the whole baseball establishment," I replied. "I'm just basically telling the story of my life."
"How much of your entire career's success do you attribute to the use of steroids?"
"Maybe not accomplish [sic] the things I did, the freakish things I did. [But] who knows? A lot of it is psychological. I mean, you really believe you have the edge. You feel the strength, and the stamina." This is exactly what I always told my fellow players when they asked me about steroids. The psychological edge is a huge component. You believe in steroids to such a degree that it changes the way you play. Confidence is a huge part of the game. Confidence intimidates your opponents. And it could be argued that the psychological benefits are even more significant than the physical.
Wallace went on, "Did you give some of the steroids to other players?"
"Not mine, no. No. Did I put them in contact with people to acquire them? Yes. Did I educate them on how to use them properly, in what way, shape, or form, and when, and with what supplements? Yes. Absolutely."
When the cameras stopped rolling, Wallace asked me if we could talk, off camera. He kept me there for another hour, clearly curious about steroids. He had more questions, and more intelligent questions than I'd heard in the years of counseling my fellow players. He wondered how the steroids and human growth hormones (HGH) might help him, a man in his eighties, live a longer, healthier life. He wanted to know everything. How long it took for the drugs to kick in. The potential side effects. The effects on mental clarity. How they made you feel. How they made you look -- could they change your face? He was hungry for information, and he'd come to the right guy: the Godfather of Steroids. I answered every question, and I did it gladly. Everyone is interested in living longer and living better.
When Wallace was done interrogating me, I could see I had piqued his interest. Whether I'd made a convert of him, I can't say. Still, I know I was pretty convincing. I'd had this same conversation hundreds of times before, with hundreds of baseball players, and most of them had gone on to become users. Does that make me a bad person? I don't think so. An informed user is a smart and happy user. I was just the guy with the recipe, the man with a map to the Fountain of Youth.
The next thing I knew, even before the 60 Minutes interview had aired, someone leaked a copy of my stillunpublished book to the Miami Herald. As you might expect, all hell broke loose. It was the biggest story of the week. Television, newspapers, magazines, radio -- everyone was talking about my book. The Miami Herald, the newspaper that leaked the story, described me as the "NotCredible Hulk," and the book was dismissed as "the ravings of a vindictive, attention-starved, has-been 'roidhead."
They said I wrote the book to make a "fast, dirty buck" and called me "Monica Lewinsky with a bat." Monica Lewinsky? Really? I didn't realize she'd been lying.
A reporter noted, "The claimant has so little credibility as to render any charge immediately suspicious."
I was prepared for some criticism, but I had also expected, maybe naively, that some people would see the good I was trying to do, would understand that I was trying to shed some light on the sorry state of baseball. After all, every word in my book was true. Was it so hard for so many to face the truth? I guess so.
Rafael Palmeiro was the first player to take a swing at me. He'd heard that I'd named him in the book, identifying him as a user, and he was pissed. "I categorically deny any assertion made by Jose Canseco that I used steroids," he said in a prepared statement. "At no point in my career have I ever used steroids, let alone any substance banned by Major League Baseball."
Sure, Rafi. And I never cheated on anyone.
Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated added fuel to the fire by saying that I had "the kind of credibility not even nanotechnology could find or measure," then added, "[Canseco] needs the money and the attention, and he has no friend or future in baseball, all of which make him highly toxic as a reliable source. He is easily dismissed."
Sure, I made money on the book. I'm happy to admit that. But is that a crime? This great country was built on the profit motive. And anyway, I had motivations beyond the financial ones: I wanted the truth to get out. The truth about the players. About the drugs. About the bosses, who knew exactly what was going on. And about the game's uncertain future.
But I also wrote the book for another reason, and maybe I'm a fool to admit it, but I'll admit it because it's the truth: I wrote Juiced to get back at Major League Baseball for blackballing me and booting me from the game. I loved baseball in ways the guys who ran the show would never understand; ways they couldn't understand. I wrote my book to let them know that they couldn't destroy lives with impunity. Not just my life, but the lives of plenty of other players. And I wrote it because I had an important story to tell, and I wanted the world to hear it.
Now that the story had leaked, I began getting calls from reporters around the world, but I couldn't talk to any of them until after the 60 Minutes piece had aired, which wasn't scheduled for another couple of weeks. Not that I was so eager to talk to them, especially in light of the media's early response -- insults and accusations and namecalling.
As the anti-Jose storm continued to rage, Harper-Collins -- in an effort to minimize potential damage from the leak -- was scrambling to move up the publication date. They also approached 60 Minutes about possibly running their interview a week earlier. Luckily, the folks at CBS thought that was a wise idea, and they made the necessary adjustments to the schedule.
The following Sunday, the day before the book was released, the interview with Mike Wallace aired. I thought the piece looked pretty good, except for one huge, glaring omission: Roger Clemens wasn't mentioned. That part of the interview had ended up on the cutting-room floor. Once again, Clemens had dodged the bullet.
"Why?" I asked my team -- publisher, agent, lawyers, managers. "How did this happen?"
The answer was always the same: "Hell if we know."
Someone then suggested that maybe the 60 Minutes producers hadn't felt safe using Roger's name, since it had been excised from the book. I didn't understand why that mattered. Those guys loved controversy. Why would they shy away from it?
Someone then suggested that Roger might be working with investigators to blow the lid off this whole sordid steroid scandal. Roger Clemens as an undercover agent? I didn't think so.
Finally, I came up with a theory of my own. It's a little far-fetched, admittedly, but I'm a bit of a conspiracy nut, so bear with me: Roger Clemens was from Texas. He went to play for the Astros, to be close to his family. George W. Bush, a former owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, is, like Clemens, a proud Texan. Clemens is a personal friend of Bush Sr. and his wife, Barbara. Clemens still has a standing invitation from Bush Jr. to visit the White House anytime. Getting the picture? Maybe the president of the United States, or his daddy, the ex-president, made some calls and took care of things for good ole Roger.
I'm not saying this is a fact, but, as conspiracy theories go, it was as good as any, because clearly something strange was happening here.
With the 60 Minutes interview out of the way, I now faced two entire weeks of press to push the book, and I've got to tell you -- I wasn't looking forward to it. I would be doing nonstop interviews with hundreds of reporters who were all gunning for me. Where's the fun in that?
The Today show was first in line, and they wanted to do a pre-interview, so I grudgingly agreed to suffer through it. I took the call in my car, en route to the airport, and the woman on the other end had no tact whatsoever. She was aggressive in the extreme, asking every dumb question in the book: "Did you do the book because you're broke?" "How did you blow all those millions of dollars?" "Are you still doing steroids?" "What does it feel like, ratting out all of your old friends?"
Why didn't she ask me any questions about the stuff in the book? I was telling the world that 80 percent of the guys on the field were doing steroids, and that the bosses knew but were reluctant to ruin the party by actually doing something about it. Why didn't we talk about that? It's one thing for a reporter to think I was a rat, or to think I was only doing the book for money, and a reporter is of course free to ask me anything he or she wants to ask, but there's a diplomatic way to phrase even the most insulting questions. How about one intelligent question for every shameless attack question? No, I guess that was too much to ask.
She wasn't done yet and I was already fuming, so I told her I'd call her back. I immediately speed-dialed my agent and lit into him, saying I didn't appreciate the way these people were treating me. He did his best to calm me down, assuring me that the actual Today show interview would be much friendlier and far more professional, but at that point I was beyond listening. I took the next exit, turned the car around, and headed home. Fuck this, I thought. Fuck everyone. I'm not doing this. Let the media go after someone else.
I got home and locked myself up in the house. I didn't leave for an entire week. Everyone was calling -- my agent, managers, reporters, friends, family -- but I didn't give a damn. What was the point of telling the truth when it was obvious these media people couldn't handle the truth? They didn't care about the truth. Why had I bothered to write the book? Didn't anyone realize that I was trying to do some good for baseball? Sure, names were named, and that had to hurt, but it wasn't my job to protect the guilty. And without names, did I even have a book? Would a publisher even print it? The clear answer was no. When I was in New York pitching the book to publishers, the first thing every single one of them wanted to know was "Are you naming names, and what names are you naming?" They made it clear from the beginning: no names, no book. So I named some names. More important, I revealed the long-hidden fact that baseball had fostered an environment where steroids were not the exception but the rule; where a player not on steroids was the freak; where four out of every five players were on performance-enhancing drugs. That was the story. That was the point of the story.
Predictably, the press did what it always does: instead of looking at what I'd written, they dismissed the book out of hand. Most reporters had only two basic questions for me: Why do you lie? How big was your advance? Needless to say, this was not a lot of fun. I had expected some criticism, sure, but I hadn't in my wildest dreams imagined that the message would be completely ignored (or worse).
That same week, the week the book was released, Jason Giambi held a press conference at Yankee Stadium, where he said that everything I had written about him was a lie. "I think it's sad," he said. "He's delusional." Then Mark McGwire gave a statement to 60 Minutes, denying he had ever used steroids: "Once and for all, I did not use steroids or any illegal substance. The relationship that these allegations portray couldn't be further from the truth."
Relationship? I never said McGwire was a friend. I said we'd juiced up together. Plain and simple.
Even Tony La Russa, my old manager from Oakland, went on the offensive. "It's a fabrication," he told Mike Wallace. "First of all, I think [Canseco's] in dire straits and needs money. I think secondly it's a healthy case of envy and jealousy."
He also said that when I had played for Oakland, I would laugh about the many hours the other guys were spending in the gym, saying I didn't have to work out because I had my "helper.... He was having help in a different way. You know, the easy way." La Russa had much more to say about me, and I thought he sounded a little like an aggrieved ex-wife. He tried to make me look as bad as possible, while proudly supporting his other players. He said I had physically "changed.... [He] got bigger than ever, and the coaches and I got suspicious and actually confronted him."
Dave McKay, an Oakland coach from 1984 to 1995, was quoted on the same subject, me, by the Toronto Sun. Apparently I had told him -- even though I didn't remember telling him -- that I had discussed steroids with hundreds of players, and that all of them invariably got around to the same question: "I won't get too big, will I?" I think that's a question well worth asking, mind you, particularly given the subject.
After La Russa's informative chat with 60 Minutes, he went on to write an editorial for the San Francisco Chronicle in defense of his big friend, whom he had managed in both Oakland and St. Louis. "Mark McGwire's historic career did not involve the use of any illegal or unethical performance-enhancing substances," he said. "Canseco's credibility has steadily declined to the point of zero with his latest accusations concerning McGwire and his A's teammates during the 1987-1995 period."
Sure. Okay. If you say so. McGwire was being celebrated as the best slugger of the modern era, if not the best ever, but he didn't get any help from steroids. As the guy who actually jammed the steroid needle in McGwire's ass, the bullshit was really burning me up.
By then I'd had a full week to cool down, and I was tired of the negative spin, so I decided I should answer my agent's call and get the media tour rebooked. It was time to get out of the house and deal with the press. It was time to tell my side of the story. I was kind of hoping that most of the press had cooled off, too, and that maybe some of them would be open to the possibility that I'd been truthful in my book. Alas, that wasn't in the cards. Most reporters had pretty much written their story before they even talked to me, and the interviews invariably had the same negative tone. It was a foregone conclusion: Jose Canseco is a rat and a liar.
"If I'm lying," I would say, "let's see the lawsuits. I named names. If I'm not telling the truth, don't you think these guys would be coming after me? If someone was lying about me, I know I'd go after them."
No answer. Just silence. No one was taking my side.
On one occasion, a reporter just kept trying to push my buttons, talking about my "outrageous fabrications" and whatnot, and I almost lost it. "You don't know me," I said, barely contained. "You don't know anything about me. Have I ever lied to you? Do you have 'sources' who have a problem with my credibility? You treat me as if I've been telling lies all my life, and you judge me, and you're basing that on what, exactly?"
That wasn't the problem, though. The real problem was that the reporters didn't want to believe me. If I had said three or four players in the entire league were dabbling in steroids, maybe, but I was saying that four out of five guys were juicing up: 80 percent of the entire league. It was the truth, and I'll say it again: the press couldn't handle the truth.
One reporter simply refused to accept it. "If these outrageous allegations are actually true," he said, "why don't we have the story?"
"Why? I'll tell you why: because you haven't been doing your jobs."
The idiots. I was giving them the story, but they couldn't see past their own ignorance to accept it as truth. They were also seriously biased. They didn't like me, so they didn't believe me. (They didn't like Roger Maris, either, and during his quest in 1961 to break Babe Ruth's single-season home-run record, they openly hoped that Maris would fail.) McGwire, on the other hand, was a big, lovable lug, and big, lovable lugs always tell the truth, right? So McGwire they believed.
The fans didn't seem to have a problem with me. Whenever I showed up for a book signing, there were lines out the door. This was in late February, and it was incredibly cold on the East Coast, but they still waited in long lines for hours and hours for a chance to walk away with a signed copy of my book. That was a pretty good feeling. From time to time, though, I wondered if some whackjob might show up with my book in his hands, then curse and spit in my face. But that never happened. The people who came out to see me were never less than fully supportive.
Wait. That's not entirely accurate. Back in March, if I remember correctly, less than a month after the book was released, my lawyer and I were at a signing at a Sam's Club in Tampa, and everything went well. Met a lot of fans, sold a lot of books. On our way out, however, I saw this guy in his midthirties, carrying a sign. It said CANSECO IS A TRAITOR AND A LIAR, or words to that effect.
We ignored him and tried to walk out to the car, but he dropped the sign and came at me, and my lawyer, Rob Saunooke, stepped between us and knocked the son of a bitch to the ground. (In case you're wondering, Rob is bigger than I am.) The guy sat there looking at us, not getting up, maybe afraid to get up, but he was screaming:
"You suck, Canseco! Every word you write is a lie! Your whole fucking life is a lie!"
Instead of sticking around for the rest of the crazy man's show, we hurried outside and got into our car. "Did you see that guy's face?" I said, upset. "He was so full of hate! What is that shit?"
"Forget about it, Jose," Rob said. "You can't make everybody happy."
"I don't give a damn about making people happy. I just don't understand people like that. I'm just telling the truth. It's not my fault if he doesn't like what I have to say."
"The world is full of idiots," Rob said. "You know that."
It still rankled. Every word in Juiced was true. Then again, as I'd already learned, the truth didn't set you free.
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped for a bite to eat. Rob could see that I was still pissed, and in the middle of the meal he put his fork down and tried to help me snap out of it. "You know, you're not upset about that idiot back there," he said. "You're upset about all the idiots in the media who have been so ridiculously relentless in their attacks."
"No, I'm not," I said.
"My advice is to forget them. All of them. The best thing you can do, the only thing you can do, is to keep telling your story, keep getting the truth out."
"Yeah, yeah. Fat lot of good that's going to do me."
He took another bite, swallowed, and stared across the table at me. "I'm going to tell you something, Jose," he said finally.
"It sounds like you're winding up for one of your lectures."
He ignored me. "One of the most amazing things about you, to me, is that you never listen to advice, not to mine and not to anyone else's."
"It's usually bad advice."
"You always do exactly what you want to do."
"That's right, I have to live my own life. Make my own mistakes."
"And the amazing part, as I was saying, is that you never stop believing you can do whatever you set your mind to do."
"Been that way since I fell in love with baseball."
"If I told you tomorrow, 'Jose, you can't climb Mount Everest,' you'd say, 'Bullshit, I'll be ready in six months.' "
"And I would be."
"I know you would. And that's one of the things I like about you. If you believe in something, you don't let anything stand in your way. You just go out there and make it happen. I don't think I've ever met anyone with that kind of faith and determination and unquestioned belief in their own ability."
"Yeah, I'm pretty optimistic."
"Optimistic doesn't even begin to describe it," Rob said.
"What's your point?"
"Just that you should forget this negative stuff. One day, you'll look back on this and laugh. One day, you'll be the guy everyone remembers as the first one to stand up and pull the covers back on the bastards at Major League Baseball."
But I wasn't laughing the next day, or the day after that.
In fact, in the weeks ahead, some of that universal goodwill from the fans that I'd experienced at the beginning of my book tour had dissipated, probably as a result of all the bad press, and, on more than one occasion, I'd be approached by an unhappy baseball fan who would question my honesty and my motivations. I was always surprised that the littlest guys were generally the most aggressive. It's as if they wanted me to get mad, wanted me to throw a punch. But I never did. I kept cool. And if I felt I couldn't keep cool, I'd walk away.
Then it was time for my ESPN interview with Pedro Gomez, one of their on-air reporters. Pedro and the crew came by the house, and while they were setting up, I told Pedro all about Roger Clemens -- how HarperCollins had pulled his name, and how 60 Minutes had followed suit. "If you tell me this on air," he said, visibly excited, "I will lead SportsCenter with it."
I spent two hours with Gomez and told him everything. On camera. I told him what I knew and didn't know about Clemens, and I told him about all of the other guys. It was a good interview, too, with all the requisite sound bites. I generally prefer television reporters to print, because the print guys tend to write exactly what they want, no matter what you tell them or how many times you tell them. But the TV guys can only work with what you give them. (Although a little selective editing can be pretty damaging.)
When ESPN aired Pedro's interview with me, Clemens's name was nowhere to be found. It wasn't the lead, and it wasn't in the body of the story.
What the hell was going on? Did the guy have connections that went beyond the White House? Was Clemens tight with the pope, too?
My agent called Pedro, who told him he had no idea why Clemens got cut from the piece. "I don't know what happened, Jose," my agent said. "It's a mystery."
"It sure is."
"I don't think Pedro knows why it was pulled, either."
"You can't believe anything these guys tell you! 'If you tell me about Clemens, I'll lead with it.' Sure, pal. Sure you will."
"I don't think it was him," my agent said.
"Nobody takes responsibility for anything anymore."
Man, it bugged me! Why was Clemens getting this free pass? What were all these people afraid of? Certainly not a baseless lawsuit! I had been told that Peter Angelos, owner of the Baltimore Orioles, had written a scathing letter to HarperCollins, threatening to sue everyone associated with the book, and their grandmothers, if they included Palmeiro's name in my book. In a previous incarnation, Angelos had been a much-feared Baltimore litigator, but HarperCollins wasn't afraid of him or of the threatened lawsuit, and Palmeiro's name was left in the book, just as I had written it. So what scary guy was pulling strings for Roger Clemens? I wanted to know his name. I wanted it bad, even if it was just to know that I was tight with an eight-hundred-pound gorilla who would go to bat for me if I ever needed it. What this guy was doing for Roger was nothing short of miraculous. This guy was the guy behind the guy behind the guy behind the curtain. I wanted him on my team.
It was the weirdest thing. I understood that Clemens had weight; that he was an influential player; that he was widely respected; even that he was important to the game of baseball. But that didn't necessarily make him clean. That didn't necessarily mean he wasn't on steroids. That didn't mean the press couldn't let me talk about him.
And he wasn't that big. I had bigger names than Clemens, but I kept them out of the book for my own twisted reasons. And guess what? I'm going to share them with you now, and I'm going to make sure no one pulls them from this book. No, not this time. This time I'm going to give you more names. Big names. Two of the biggest names in baseball. One of them arguably the biggest name in baseball. Maybe the biggest name in the history of baseball.
But wait. I'm getting ahead of myself.
Copyright © 2008 by High Traffic Media, LLC
1 The Godfather of Steroids
2 The Entertainers
3 The Foggy Mirror
4 The Polygraph Test
5 The Mitchell Report
6 Deal with the Devil
8 The Time Line
9 Why I Love Baseball
Appendix: Power Stats