'Juiced' flies off shelves

Posted: Tuesday, February 15, 2005

NEW YORK — Jose Canseco's autobiography accusing several top players of steroid use and charging that baseball long ignored performance-enhancing drugs appeared to be a hit on its first day in bookstores.

Amazon.com listed ''Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big'' as third on its best seller list Monday.

The book had an initial printing of 150,000 copies and Regan Books does not disclose sales figures, spokeswoman Jennifer Suitor said.

''I don't think it's a good thing, obviously, because it's bringing a bad light to the game,'' New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter said Monday. ''This is a time, obviously, baseball is in a negative light and Jose is not helping out. In terms of his accusations, the only people that know are him and whoever he is accusing. The unfortunate thing is, if it's not true, you're looking at guys having to defend themselves over something they haven't done.''

Mark McGwire, one of the former teammates Canseco accused of using steroids, issued a written denial.

''The relationship that these allegations portray couldn't be further from the truth,'' McGwire's statement said. ''I also worry how these false allegations will taint the accomplishments of the Oakland Athletics' coaches, players and executives who worked so hard to achieve success during the era in question, along with the other players and organizations affected by this book.

''Most concerning to me is the negative effect that sensationalizing steroids will have on impressionable youngsters who dream of one day becoming professional athletes. Once and for all I did not use steroids or any other illegal substance.''

McGwire was not available for interviews.

In the book, Canseco is an unabashed advocate of performance-enhancing drugs.

''By the time my 8-year-old daughter, Josie, has graduated from high school, a majority of all professional athletes — in all sports — will be taking steroids. And believe it or not, that's good news,'' he writes. ''I have no doubt whatsoever that intelligent, informed use of steroids, combined with Human Growth Hormone, will one day be so accepted that everybody will be doing it. Steroid use will be more common than Botox is now. Every baseball player and pro athlete will be using at least low levels of steroids. As a result, baseball and other sports will be more exciting and more entertaining.''

Canseco calls himself the ''godfather of steroids in baseball,'' saying ''I single-handedly changed the game of baseball by introducing them into the game.''

He says both baseball management and the union tried to ignore steroid use.

''Are players the only ones to blame when Donald Fehr and the other bosses of the Major League Baseball Players Association fought for years to make sure players wouldn't be tested for steroids?'' he wrote, adding: ''Fehr had to know the truth.''

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said last week that the sport's leadership was unaware of possible steroid use until 1998. Fehr declined comment Monday.

Canseco expresses resentment at the way he was treated by management and the media.

''There was a huge double standard in baseball, and white athletes like Mark McGwire, Cal Ripken Jr. and Brady Anderson were protected and coddled in a way that an outspoken Latino like me never would be,'' he wrote. ''Canseco the Cuban was left out in the cold, where racism and double standards rule.''

Canseco specifically took aim at Jason Giambi, a former Oakland teammate.

''Giambi had the most obvious steroid physique I've ever seen in my life,'' Canseco wrote. ''He was so bloated, it was unbelievable. There was no definition to his body at all. You could see the retention of liquids, especially in his neck and face.''

He also devotes sections to players' womanizing — including his own — and to umpires he calls ''the most vengeful people you'll ever meet,'' saying they are on ''power trips.''

''There are certain things that belong with us ballplayers,'' Yankees pitcher Carl Pavano said. ''It's a tight group. It's sad to see someone that desperate come throw themselves out there to make money.''

The 1986 AL Rookie of the Year and 1988 MVP, Canseco spent 17 seasons in the major leagues, finishing with 462 home runs in a career that ended in 2001, when he was 37. He clearly has a high opinion of his performance.

''I was hands down the best player in the world. No one even came close,'' he wrote. ''I was created by the media. Back in the 1980s, I was like a rock star. Everywhere I went, I had to have bodyguards. I had it all: the body, the personality, everything. I was Hollywood.

He blames baseball management for prematurely ending his career before he could reach 500 homers.

''The owners realized that they needed to put the kibosh on steroid use, or at least pretend to,'' he wrote. ''So they decided to send a loud message to all players, by getting rid of the player most closely identified with steroids: Jose Canseco.''

He insists he still is in good enough shape to play, saying steroids have kept his body young.

''If you start young enough, when you are in your 20s, 30s and 40s, and use steroids properly, you can probably slow down the aging process by 15 or 20 years,'' he wrote. ''I'm 40 years old but I look much younger — and I can still do everything the way I could when I was 25.''

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