Jose Canseco held a press conference on Thursday night in Los Angeles and held court on steroids in baseball in the wake of Manny Ramirez's suspension. He made several arguments over the course of the conference, arguments that we'll look at here and break them down to figure out how much sense Canseco's making on the issue.
"The players didn't know any better."
Canseco's weakest argument is his defense of players using steroids in the time before Major League Baseball implemented testing. Just because you don't get caught or punished for doing something doesn't mean it isn't wrong, and it certainly doesn't mean that you don't know you are doing something wrong.
"Eventually the players will turn on Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association and admit that it was wild and rampant and as many as 80-90 percent of players were using steroids."
Canseco is off-base if he thinks that all of these players will implicate themselves as steroid users unless they're forced out of the closet. We've seen too many players who have avoided admitting use already, even in the face of criminal prosecution, to believe that all of a sudden they are going to start coming out of the woodworks to own up to everything that was going on. That would do more to vindicate Canseco than the players themselves, which is the only reason why Canseco would contend that this day is coming.
"It's all about timing. What would have happen if Alex Rodriguez's name would have popped up before that $300 million contract? It might have dwindled to a $50 million contract. They're manipulating and constructing all this...It's a complete conspiracy, and eventually we will see it all."
The Rodriguez conspiracy idea only makes sense from the side of the players union, but if it were a true conspiracy wouldn't the owners have had the information out to suppress salaries across the board? If anything the A-Rod contract would be better used as a way to support the idea that MLB doesn't care about steroid use.
"I could have ended [steroid use in baseball], but Major League Baseball chose to do what? Blackball me out of the game completely. I didn't get a second chance, I didn't get a fine. I didn't get the chance these players are getting these days."
Canseco's ego can make it hard to get on board with everything that he's saying. The notion that he cares about eliminating steroid use in baseball is laughable, as his books weren't designed to benefit anyone but himself.
Did Canseco have more baseball left in him after the 2001 season? Absolutely, but steroids are only part of the reason why he had become persona non grata around the major leagues. That said, when you look at the way baseball turned its back on Barry Bonds it isn't hard to see the same kind of thing happening to Canseco in 2002.
The irony, of course, is that the more A-Rods and Mannys that get caught in the net, the weaker Canseco's blackball argument becomes. His numbers were impressive, but they are much less impressive if PED use was as rampant as it seems. Basically, if everyone was using, why get a 36-year-old juicer when you can sign a 26-year-old one instead.
"The players have paid enough. Who has to pay now? The Players Association and Major League Baseball."
On this point Canseco couldn't be more correct. Every player that tests positive or fails a test at this point is just another name on the list and they get public flayings while the game's overlords skate by without a scratch. Players make their choices and pay the price, but the same should be true of Donald Fehr and Bud Selig.