Correction (February 28, 2004): Allegations that Bret Boone and Mark McGwire used steroids do not actually appear in the book. Suggestions that Orel Hershiser scuffed the ball during the 1988 World Series do not appear in the book either. Suggestions that Pete Rose fixed the 1990 World Series or helped Theo Epstein win the 2004 World Series for the Boston Red Sox also does not appear in the book.

My English professors should be proud. My numerous literature classes have actually taught me something: Always question the narrator in any story. My most recent narrator, Jose Canseco, appears a little easier to identify as questionably unreliable than most of the narrators I encounter in readings.

Jose Canseco’s book Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant `Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big was recently released in a midst of controversy – not that I would expect anything less from him.

Canseco alleges, among many other things, that he personally injected Mark McGwire with steroids, introduced the Texas Rangers to steroids, threw the 1990 World Series so Pete Rose would make some cash, is single handedly responsible for the demise of the Yankees and helped the Boston Red Sox win the 2004 World Series by working as a consultant to Theo Epstein.

You’d think the guy invented the internet and destroyed communism over night.

Literary agent Ronald Laitsch decided to turn down Canseco’s book after lawyers for publishing companies began to panic over being sued for libel.

“He didn’t have any notes to back up anything he was saying,” Laitsch said in a statement.

Does Canseco have the right to discuss his experiences during his 16 years in the MLB? Sure. But this time he’s walking over dangerously thin ice by smearing so many men involved in the sport with little to back up his allegations.

For example, Canseco claims that retired Dodgers pitcher Oral Hershiser scuffed the ball during the 1988 World Series between his Oakland A’s and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He claims that this is the sole reason that he and McGwire, the “Bash Brothers,” only had two hits during the series, resulting in their loss. In his book, Canseco says this “tarnishes” Hershiser’s legacy.

Canseco, however, has no evidence to make this statement, conveniently ignoring the fact that Hershiser finished the 1988 regular season with one of the greatest runs by a starting pitcher ever – 59 consecutive scoreless innings. As no one else has ever accused Hershiser of this, Canseco appears only to be scrambling for excuses after his team suffered an upset second only to, well, Georgetown-Villanova in 1985.

While not all of his allegations, such as the Hershiser one, can be debunked immediately, some can. Canseco mentions a discussion he had with Seattle Mariners second baseman Bret Boone. While with the Angels, Canseco claims that he was standing with Boone on second after he had hit a double and he was shocked with Boone’s new large stature. Canseco alleges that when he asked Boone what he had been doing, he replied, “Shh, don’t tell anybody” – code for steroids.

Canseco, though, seems to have a revisionist view of these events, considering he did not even make it to second base once in that series, making the likelihood said conversation ever occurred near impossible.

Canseco also mentions a time while on the Yankees when Torre called him to hit during the Subway Series. A cold night, he says, he struck out in three pitches on this supposed game six. ysteriously, there was no such game six in 2000 against the ets.

But his book is out there. Canseco, who has admitted to using steroids, seems to firmly believe that if he is going down, then he will slander and smear everyone else and drag them down, too.

Those players now face the difficult decision of what to do in the face of these accusations.

Sue for libel? That takes months and requires solid evidence that those events did not happen, and Canseco knew they were false.

Remain silent and hope they disappear faster than a libel case would take? Well, silence makes Canseco out to be a herald of the truth.

Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi has somewhat admitted to steroid use.

Boone has denied has allegations. “I don’t know the person,” he said to the media. “He doesn’t know me. I’ve never had a conversation with him. As far as I’m concerned, it’s absolutely ridiculous.”

Marlins catcher Ivan Rodriguez and Rangers outfielder Juan Gonzalez both denied. Rodriguez showed up to spring training 22 pounds lighter, his actions speaking louder than a denial.

McGwire, whose name Canseco repeatedly pulls through the mud, issued a statement saying, “I have always told the truth and am saddened that I continue to face this line of questioning. With regard to this book, I am reserving comment until I have the chance to review its contents myself.” Fair enough.

Canseco could have done a lot of good with this book. Steroids are a huge problem in baseball, and Canseco could have given an accurate inside look into this after all his experiences. But the manner in which he chose to write makes him to be an unreliable source lacking credibility.

Without a doubt some of the things he alleges are true. But by writing things that can be proven lies, how are we supposed to trust his writing at all?

Why say things that can be proven to be lies? Why write things that will offend and outrage people? It sells.

This is a man who considered himself “more an entertainer than a ball player.” So it makes sense that he wouldn’t have qualms with bringing such a negative light to his sport. It’s just unfortunate that he had to bring so many others down with him.

I skimmed through his book this last week and took notes. It cost $25, which is a lot to a starving college student. But more than anything, I couldn’t stomach supporting a man so obviously driven by greed.

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