There was an unexpected spin on the way Jose Canseco's yearslong exile from the Oakland A's ended this past weekend when he attended the 25-year reunion of their 1989 World Series win. The former slugger said he regretted writing his 2005 tell-all book, "Juiced," which cracked open Major League Baseball's steroids scandal and betrayed former teammate Mark McGwire and dozens of other peers. But what was he thinking? Exposing the steroid era is the last thing Canseco should apologize for -- and his list is longer than most.
As Dennis Eckersley, a former A's teammate who helped broker Canseco's return, told reporters over the weekend, "[The steroid era] needed to come out. ... Part of me is glad it happened because I kind of like having people be exposed."
Besides, Canseco hardly escaped unscathed.
He's been mocked and vilified for how he used and counseled others on PED use so much that his down-low nickname around baseball became "The Chemist." He amassed 462 career home runs, won two World Series rings and earned an American League Most Valuable Player award, yet fell off the Hall of Fame ballot after just one year because he received only 1.1 percent of the votes in 2007, well below the 5 percent required to stay.
Canseco has had the details exposed about the physiological and sexual side effects he's suffered because of his PED use. In 2008, he said he went to Mexico for cheaper dental implants and got arrested at a border checkpoint when agents found syringes and a bootlegged bottle of female fertility drug hCG that many chronic steroids users take to prevent testicular atrophy.
Some of Canseco's hubristic excesses and laugh-out-loud dumb decisions are the stuff of legend. Who can forget how he was once sued by a promoter for sending his identical twin brother, Ozzie, to fight a celebrity boxing match for him, thinking they could get away with it? How about that particularly inspired span in 1993 when he was with the Rangers, one of his seven big league teams, and he had a fly ball bounce off his head and over the wall for a home run -- then persuaded Rangers manager Kevin Kennedy to allow him to pitch mop-up duty just three days later and blew out his arm and needed Tommy John surgery?
None of this is meant to defend anything he's done. It's just to note that after all that (and more), the book is the thing he'd take back?
"I regret writing the book, for sure. ... It haunts me 'til today," Canseco told Bay Area reporters Friday, saying he wrote it to retaliate for feeling blackballed out of the game at age 37.
"I regret putting my friends [like estranged Bash Brother McGwire] in it, even though it was a true account. ... I was angry at the time."
Canseco is in the middle of a two-month, 17-city homer-hitting tour of minor league ballparks in an RV. He's traveling with four dogs and three turtles as companions, and his remaining itinerary of ballparks looks a lot like the eight or so independent-league stops that he made after leaving the big leagues in 2001: Aug. 3, he'll be in the Kansas City area, then he's on to Bakersfield, California (Aug. 5), Los Angeles (Aug. 10), New York (Aug. 16-17), and Canton, Ohio (Aug. 24).