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It has become increasingly difficult to discern who looks guilty amid baseball's parade of steroid suspects and whistle blowers, when everyone is wearing a clown's nose. Next up on your lineup card:
Do you believe the lug-head prose of Canseco in his latest potboiler? Canseco is the 43-year-old lounge act who is scarily comfortable in his skin as a smarmy opportunist while outing his old syringe buddies' dark secrets, this time in
"He's not who he portrays himself to be," Canseco said in a recent phone interview with
Do you buy the artful A-Rod's boilerplate no-comment reply to Canseco last week?
"His lawyers want him off the subject. The less he says the better for him," Canseco said. "Basically, what are you going to say against the truth?"
Rodriguez is the 32-year-old reigning MVP, home run champ and an image paradox. He poses as a family guy and yet found himself labeled as "Stray-Rod" by the tabloids last year. He usually chooses his words from a PR crib sheet but, when left to his own verbal devices in February, A-Rod exaggerated the number of times he was drug tested in 2007 to make baseball's anti-doping program sound more vigilant than it is.
Is there anyone who can tell honesty from hyperbole? Is there an angel of mercy who can save baseball from the kind of joyless epic of innuendo that accompanied
Do angels have bald heads as sleek as Airstream trailers?
This is where Canseco's real tell-all account could unfold. He will be talking to Novitzky freely -- happy to do it, Canseco said -- while surely understanding the perils of lying to a federal investigator.
Topic A will be Canseco's insights on
Novitzky isn't bound by editorial guidelines. He is free to ask Canseco for Max's identity, particularly if this person has tentacles to BALCO or other steroid distribution rings.
"If he asks, I'll look for guidance from my attorney," Canseco says, "and we'll see how we can help."
If Novitzky chooses to investigate A-Rod, his slow-drip meticulous methods mean uncovering the truth could last as long as it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.
Baseball could expedite closure -- for once. MLB recently created what you might call a Nip It Police. As recommended in the Mitchell Report, commissioner
"It can be an observation, a third party allegation or an anecdote," said
MLB isn't saying whether
"No one has spoken to me," Canseco said. "It's the strangest thing. If baseball had come to me from Day One and said, 'Jose, we know you're doing steroids and others are, too; help us get it out of the game,' I would have helped."
Canseco is freighted by motives, but so far most of his allegations (see
Attention is as good as currency to Canseco. He craves the power of relevance. True, there is no doubt that his Bentley lifestyle has been downgraded to BMW after two divorces, brushes with the law and a civil suit over a fight that cost him, according to court records, $376,064.
But his two gotcha novels -- with
"I'm dangerous, and baseball knows it," Canseco said.
Danger can be mitigated. Clemens played to Canseco's ego perfectly. After Clemens appeared on
Canseco flew to Houston and as he writes in
In other words, he flipped. Just like that. A little lovin' on Canseco's psyche -- no matter how contrived -- went a long way. Baseball officials should try that, because if they don't value Canseco's insider information -- even if some of it is dubious, even if they've had a longtime rift with him -- he'll just spew more of it in his next book. And you can already see him licking a pencil tip for No. 3, on what the game's general managers, trainers and owners knew.
And he knows a lot of owners -- including a former Rangers owner named
"I'd assume he knew, yes," Canseco says. "They all knew what was going on: Their players were using steroids."
It's up to baseball's new detective squad to unearth the truth about A-Rod, about Ordonez, about their owners, before Canseco makes it a trilogy.