Monday, 26th August 2019

Canseco’s Vindication Marks End of Era

Posted on 27. Feb, 2010 by FSM Staff in Highlight, MLB

Canseco’s Vindication Marks End of Era

It would be nice to be able to say that the Steroid Era of baseball officially ended on 12/31/09 at 11:59 p.m. We could then bundle up the last ten years of major league play and send it away with all the other political and social misfortune the masses had to deal with in what many are calling “The Lost Decade”. Though the last few years have been significant for baseball and the MLB because of Jose Canseco, most baseball fans would rather forget about the decade that tested their faith in the game and left them feeling hurt and betrayed. Steroids will trickle in to this new decade but the days are numbered for users who are dense enough to still prick themselves in the arse.

Steroids and performance enhancing drugs were not exclusive to the last ten years. A more accurate timeline for the Steroid Era would be from 1980 to 2010. The use of steroids and other substances became widespread in the 80s, took over the game in the 90s, and was finally exposed and addressed in the new millennium. Every fan hopes that the Steroid Era is finally over. After reading Jose Canseco’s follow up effort Vindicated: Big Names, Big Liars, and the Battle to Save Baseball, most fans will be left feeling optimistic about the future state of affairs in the MLB.

Readers of FreeSportsMag might find it odd that Canseco’s book is being reviewed a few years after its initial release. Admittedly, it was an impulsive decision, made hastily at the Borders Bookstore for three simple reasons:

 1)      The book was in the $3.99 bargain bin

2)      The cover was very creative and appealing

3)      We never got around to reading Canseco’s first book and this one looks like it was half as long

The bulk of Vindicated is composed of Jose Canseco telling the populace “I told you so”. And why not? He was one of the few people who had the courage to come forward and expose the truth. He suffered many slings and arrows for his efforts and alienated himself from many people. Whatever his motives were for blowing the whistle in his first book Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big, it could not have been an easy ride for him once it was published, no matter how much he was getting paid. He is the one who lit the match that eventually caused the powder keg to explode.

All the “I told you so’s” aside, Vindicated is not a terrible read. Some of the stories and theories presented may get repetitive, but the book is short and sweet and leaves little opportunity for boring lulls. Big, confusing words definitely do not litter the 231 pages of text found in this book so there is no need to keep a dictionary handy. In fact, the only unrecognizable words will be the names of the steroids and other PEDs that are frequently mentioned. Other than that, Vindicated is simple and straightforward and gives off the vibe that Canseco is having an informal conversation with the reader, like two old pals talking steroids and sharing a few laughs.

The book also has some interesting features that are worthy of at least a moment’s glance. There are “before” and “after” pictures of MLB players who have been involved with steroids. It is quite amusing to see Barry Bonds the Pirate standing next to Barry Bonds the Giant (head). Statistics are also included for these players which show a very suspicious spike in numbers in many different categories. To satisfy any curiosity out there, these players include Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Juan Gonzalez, Miguel Tejada, Roger Clemens, Magglio Ordonez, and Alex Rodriguez.

Vindicated is not strictly about baseball. Canseco talks about things like his participation in the Surreal Life television show and the responsibility of being a father. And every once and a while he surprises the reader with amazingly insightful comments and ponderings such as the following:

“It made me think of why I got into steroids in the first place, way back when I was no more than a kid, really, and how I had been determined to win at all costs…but maybe wanting to be the best, at any cost, wasn’t the smartest approach. That phrase is what kills you: at any cost. You have to ask yourself if the price is going to be too high. And how the hell are you supposed to know that before you take the plunge? If you don’t know the price, how can figure out if it’s too high? And maybe it isn’t too high. Maybe it is exactly the price you should pay.”

Jose Canseco’s vindication marks the end of an era. His desire to “save baseball” should be applauded but he should not take it personally if fans want to forget he ever existed. But before fans can forget about him and about the entire Steroids Era, they will need closure. Vindicated provides that closure to a certain extent but it also raises a sense of guilt in baseball fans because of their own inaction. Yankee fans in the 2000s were not shouting on the rooftops, “We do not want our players taking steroids!” There was no one in St. Louis between 1997 and 1999 saying, “It looks like Mark McGwire ate Mark McGwire.”

Baseball fans must ask themselves the question, “Why did I ignore it?” or “How could I have missed it?” Then all parties will be able to move on.

Jaromir Jagr is Still Alive

Posted on 21. Feb, 2010 by FSM Staff in General Sports, NHL

Jaromir Jagr is Still Alive

Jaromir Jagr is still alive and has recently been spotted in Vancouver at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. His hair is long again (whether or not he has a mullet is debatable) and he is skating around with a hockey stick doing a pretty darn good Jaromir Jagr impersonation (the 1990s Pittsburgh Penguins version). Though it has been two years since Jagr played in an NHL game (he currently plays professionally in Russia), he reminded North American fans of his relevance to the game with his participation on the Czech Republic’s national team (the use of parentheses has been abused in this introductory paragraph and will be suspended for the remainder of this article).

At the tender age of 38, Jaromir Jagr showed the world just how much gas he has left in his tank. Tied 1-1 in a match against Slovakia at the Winter Olympics, Jagr took complete control of the game and willed his country to a 3-1 victory in which he scored the go-ahead goal. Perhaps a small moral victory for Jagr and the Czech Republic, but a huge victory for hockey fans in North America who have not seen the living legend play in two years.

It is always surprising to hear people make negative comments about the Olympic Games (both summer and winter, doh!). They fixate on certain events being “stupid” or “boring” and miss the point of the games entirely. They do not allow themselves to be consumed by the spirit of competition and cannot recognize the unifying power of sport. What a treat it must be for young hockey fans to have the opportunity to witness greats from around the world like Jagr, Sergei Fedorov, and Peter Forsberg all play in the same tournament. For many young fans, this will be their first time seeing these legends play in real time. Thank you Olympic Games.     

Jaromir Jagr’s future in the sport of hockey is uncertain. His contract with his current team in Russia expires soon and he has not committed to any future plans. Should he want to return to the NHL there is a very strong possibility that someone will give him work. Whether it is to sell some extra tickets or to put a contender over the top, Jaromir Jagr is as alive and able as he was fifteen years ago.

Pacquiao vs. Mayweather is Back On

Posted on 06. Feb, 2010 by FSM Staff in Boxing, Highlight

Pacquiao vs. Mayweather is Back On

Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather will do battle in a few months after all, it just won’t be in the squared circle. In the aftermath of negotiations breaking down for a mega fight between the two, both fighters will appear in separate pay-per-views in what will undoubtedly turn out to be a barometer for who is the more popular boxer.

Pacquiao will take on the formidable Joshua Clottey from Ghana on March 13. The fight will take place at the new billion dollar stadium in Texas where Tony Romo and the rest of the Dallas Cowboys call home. Seating is being arranged for an estimated 40,000 boxing fans that will show up mostly in support of Pacquiao. Clottey recently lost a controversial decision to Miguel Cotto and is by no means a walkover opponent. But then again, neither were Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, and the others that Pacquiao has pulverized in the last few years. Will this fight be competitive? Probably not. Will this fight be entertaining?  It will definitely have its moments.

Floyd Mayweather has a slightly bigger test in front of him. On May 1 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Mayweather will meet with welterweight title holder Sugar Shane Mosley. Mosley’s last fight took place over one year ago when he upset Antonio Margarito with a ninth round knock-out. Mosley is a much more difficult opponent than Joshua Clottey and most boxing fans would agree that Mayweather/Mosley will be the better pay-per-view to watch of the two. Sugar Shane is reaching the end of his career (though he certainly does not fight like it) and has the heart of a champion. He will definitely not be afraid to bring the fight to Mayweather and without question, Mayweather will be ready.

Though Floyd Mayweather has a bigger chance of losing his fight than Manny Pacquiao does, it is expected that both fighters will take care of business. The true fight will really take place when all the pay-per-view buys are tallied for each fighter. Pacquiao versus Mayweather is not taking place in the ring, but in the heart of every boxing fan across the country. Fans will open their wallets and decide who they want to spend their hard earned money on because they can no longer see both fighters for the price of one PPV. The hardcore and rich fans will most likely purchase both, but the fans who primarily like one guy or the other will probably just buy their particular fight.

There is potential danger in this popularity contest. Whoever generates more revenue from pay-per-view sales will want a bigger piece of the pie when Mayweather and Pacquiao try to set something up again down the road. Would either man agree to receive less than 50% of the purse based on who sold more pay-per-views in their last fight?