Remembering the days of Jose Canseco

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(Photo via AP)

As he is wont to do every now and then, Jose Canseco took to Twitter earlier this week to beg some Major League GMs for a job. The poster boy for the steroid age is a sprightly 47, but he still thinks both that he could handle Major League pitching and that he has been unfairly railroaded from the game for “exposing” baseball’s PED-filled underbelly.

Every time Canseco’s name comes up, I always flash back to the 2000 baseball season when Jose somehow ended up on the Yankees for two months. He got 137 plate appearances over 37 games and hit .243/.365/.432, good for a 103 OPS+ in an era of off-the-charts offense. He struck out in his one post-season at-bat during the World Series against the Mets, but he got a ring out of it. Needless to say, he did not return to the Bronx in 2001.

So how exactly did Canseco end up on the Yankees? It was, in fact, a calculated risk that turned into something of a mistake. We’ll get to that though. First, the club reaction. When the Yankees landed Canseco on a waiver claim from the Devil Rays in August of 2000, no one knew what to do with him. “I’m a little stunned,” Joe Torre said at the time. “I’m a little surprised. I don’t have an opinion one way or another.”

George Steinbrenner was less diplomatic. “I think they got caught up in something they didn’t think about,” he said, vaguely referring to his third-year GM, “but I’m behind my people. I’m totally supportive of what they did. I’m happy the man is coming here, and I’m hoping he does the job for me.”

The Boss later backed down and sided with his baseball people when Torre continued to question the move. “I want it made very clear that I support the decision of Brian Cashman 100 percent, and I’m very surprised by anyone who would be surprised by his aggressiveness,” he said. “Jose Canseco has been a very big contributor.”

As the story behind the claim played out, those watching the Yankees were skeptical. Jack Curry critiqued the deal as only Jack can. Canseco himself called his three months with the Yanks as “the worst time of my life.”

During the summer of 2000, we learned exactly what happened. The Yanks were concerned that the Blue Jays, just a few games behind them in the AL race, would pounce on Canseco via a trade, and they put a waiver claim in to attempt to claim him. No one else bit, and the Yanks ended up with Canseco. Brian Cashman refused to work out a deal with Tampa Bay GM Chuck LaMar, and LaMar simply let Canseco and the remaining $1 million on his deal go to New York.

The next year, as Canseco grumbled, Cashman defended his move. “There is no question he was a member of this team and he did contribute. We only won this division by two games, and while he may have played a small part, he definitely played a part and he contributed,” he said. Thus ended a strange, strange chapter in Yankee lore.

Report: Kim Jones will not be back in 2012
Identifying potential (ideally left-handed-hitting) DH trade targets
  • STONE COLD Austin Romine

    To be honest I’d be hard pressed to find a standout moment or big hit he had during his time with the Yankees.

    • Steve (different one)

      IIRC, he hit one into the upper deck. In LEFT field. Not sure I remember anyone else doing this. Maybe A-Rod as a Ranger?

      • mike

        i remember that shot – it was an afternoon daytime game, and i was being rushed out of the house by the wife- i made her wait and he absolutely crushed a pitch.

        worth the wait – and he and Glenallen Hill were huge the first weeks with the club in reinvigorating the offense and the bench

    • jsbrendog

      i love your handle dude

  • Plank

    I love Jose Canseco. He was railroaded because he was a whistleblower. If he didn’t write that book telling the truth and blowing the cover off of steroids in baseball, he would have 500 HR and a good case for a dinosaur’s vote for the HOF.

    Everything he wrote has turned out to be totally true. The fact that he’s a pariah is terrible.

    • radnom

      Thats a cool story and whatnot, but he first retired after being released by the Expos in 2002, he didn’t write the book until 2005. At that point he was a 40 yr DH attempting a comeback after several years out of the league (conveniently coinciding with his book release).

      Everything you wrote turned out to be totally false.

      • Plank

        He was 36 when teams wouldn’t sign him. He had 462 HR including 16 in 76 games his last season. If he wasn’t considered a problem, he would have found a team that would sign him. There is no way a player who isn’t considered “difficult” doesn’t find a team to let him pinch hit or DH.

        If he wasn’t such a pariah already, he wouldn’t have written the book. It’ a chicken or the egg situation. Was he shunned because he told it like it was, or did he tell it like it was because he was shunned? Since he was shunned first, I would assume that came first, but who knows.

        • lakawak

          But you claimed the reason why teams didn’t take him was because he was a whistleblower, and that is obviously not true since he didn’t “blow the whistle” until he was already out of baseball for several years.

          You also seem to conveniently leave out the fact that at the time, he was the WORST of the cheaters. So I am not sure where you are going with this Hall of Fame crap. You wrote that in 2012…by then, it was abundantly clear that NO ONE tied up in the steroid scandals has any shot whatsoever of making the HOF.

    • TrollHunter

      He got railroaded because he is a JACKHOLE!

    • ron

      I agree

  • RetroRob

    Who knows. It might have turned out to have been a good move. We’ll never know if he had made it to the Yankees direct competition what he would have done playing every day. Certainly not the oddest move the Yankees have made over the years, and one million bucks is not exactly a deal breaker.

    One correction, though. Cashman was named GM after the ’97 season. He was in his third year as GM in 2000.

  • Gageagainstthemachine

    I saw Canseco play for the Yankees that season at Safeco (a road trip specifically to see the Yankees play since I’m from Montana and opportunities are rare for me to see them in person). If I recall correctly, Clemens pitched and was great. I forgot Canseco was a Yankee for such a brief time period. Hopefully, my memory is correct on all this.

    • RetroRob

      Your memory is correct. You also seem to have forgot what seems to be a three-run HR from The Chemist.

      • gageagainstthemachine

        I wanted to mention the home run, but it was the one thing I wasn’t truly sure on. I remember thinking at the time it was a good pick up by the Yankees.

        • gageagainstthemachine

          holy cow Arod, Henderson, and Edgar too…wow…a lot of stars and future HOFers in that game!

    • NHCt

      I was there for that series and recall him jacking one into the left field stands. Pretty big HR, if my memory is correct.

  • CJ

    40-40. Ball off his head. A finger pointing book of accusations. Douche.

  • Mike Axisa

    Last game I went to before I went off the college was this one:

    Jorge batted second, Canseco cleanup. Oh yeah.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Amazing how the Yanks managed to get David Justice, Glenallen Hill and Jose Canseco into the same starting lineup. Defense? We don’t need no stinkin’ defense.

      • Matt DiBari

        Lack of defense isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I see those three names.

        Seriously, though, unless cursed with a truly Nunez-ian inability to field a ball hit to you, I’m willing to look the other way on defense.

        • Kiko Jones

          I’d take Nuñez’s glove over Marcus Thames’ defense a thousand times.

          • Matt DiBari

            That suggests Nunez has a glove.

            • MannyGeee

              Glove he has, its the arm that scares the shit out of me

      • thenamestsam

        Seriously. Bernie, Justice and Hill has to be about the worst defensive outfield that it’s possible to throw out there. That might actually be an interesting idea for an article now that I think about it. Worst defensive outfield the Yankees have started in the last 10 years. Worst defensive infield. Worst lineup. Stuff like that.

        • Darren

          How do you throw Bernie into that mix? Bernie frequently showed his bad instincts, but his talent covered that up most of the time. He was amazing at running down balls. he had a bad arm. Until, weirdly enough, his last year when he showed the best arm of entire career. I’ll take Bernie’s defense every time, even with only 3/4 of his offense.

  • John

    Didn’t he have like one huge homer into the upper deck in left field in the old stadium? I swear I could recall watching the game on tv and he just drilled one up there. A-rod hit one in the area during old timers day a few years later. But that was probably the only Conseco moment I can recall.

  • Kevin

    It makes me puke Jose Canseco got a ring with the Yankees yet players like Bobby Murcer,Moose and Jim Abbott never did.

    • Plank

      Why Canseco and not Eric Hinske or Clay Bellinger?

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Way different levels of douchebaggery.

        • Plank

          What makes you say he’s a douchebag other than his interaction with the press? He’s clearly not a savvy media guy. If you’ve ever seen him interviewed, he has a facial tick, so maybe he’s just extremely shy or nervous, or has Aspergers syndrome or something. I don’t think it’s fair to say he’s a douchebag based on his interactions with beat reporters.

          • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

            The fact that I went to high school a few years after him on Jose Canseco St. makes me a bigger authority on his douchebaggery than you, Plank.

            Go ahead, though, and please waste further internet bandwidth on defending the moral character on a player you have no emotional connection to.

            • Darren

              That’s a dumb answer. You have more moral authority to answer the question because you went to the same high school? Don’t beleive the hype. Unless you’re saying that you also knew him personally?

              Even he wasa douche, I’ll take his douchiness and truthfulness over any of these other jokers who helped the steroids age grow and flourish with their silence.

            • MannyGeee

              Stories of Cansecos douchebaggery go far beyond this thread. His TV appearances, Howard Stren show, reality TV, posturing for a job at FOURTY SEVEN via the Twitter of all places… the whoa is me act, stories about his playing days when he used to brag about his steroid use…

              outside of that, class act.

    • Rich in NJ

      All it means is that rings don’t necessarily tell you much about the worth of a player.

      • jsbrendog

        the world champion wilson betemit begs to differ

        • jsbrendog

          crap, my bad, he didn’t get a ring. but insert some other shitty player with a ring there

          • Steve (different one)

            Luis Sojo is the poster boy. I believe he has 5 rings, since he also played on the 93 Blue Jays. He was also on the 95 Seattle team that knocked off the yanks.

          • MannyGeee

            Cody Ransom takes offense.

  • keith

    Yep, Canseco crushed one into the upper deck. Face it, if the yankees wouldn’t have claimed Canseco they might not have won the world series as weird as that sounds. Things worked out and now Jose owns two championship rings, which he deserved! A comeback at 47 would be the greatest thing the baseball world has ever seen, he can do it.

    • JMK


    • jsbrendog

      Jose, is that you? you know we know your name isn’t keith.

  • Kiko Jones

    It’s funny that he’s more of a pariah than the dudes he ratted out, but I have a theory: the baseball press doesn’t like that Canseco put the PED dirt out there before they did, making them look inept (for not figuring it out despite their access) or complicit (looking the other way) in the process. Also, Canseco has shown more class than most of the baseball press, by not gloating and, for the most part, avoiding the spotlight in the midst of all of the PED brouhaha. (Supposedly, when approached by the press in ’09 when the A-Rod story broke, he is said to have replied something along the lines of “Old news. Later.”)

    The writers will never give him his due. Hell, I saw Cabseco on MLBN last year, and the guys on there were as comfortable around him as they would be interviewing a pedophile. It was some antagonistic shit, I tell you.

    • Darren

      The baseball writers are stupid but not that stupid. They were complicit.

      I mean, I have absolutely no connections inside of baseball and even I knew in 1998 that the whole McLiar/Sosa homerun race was completely fake.

  • Kiko Jones

    * Canseco, not Cabseco.
    Sorry about that last typo.

    • Plank

      I like to put Cabesco on my eggs.

  • Brett

    Didnt really start following baseball until 2007 (live in australia) so my only memory of Jose Conseco is in the movie Liar Liar. I didnt even know who he was, but thought he had a cool name.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I hate that the shithead turned out to be right.

    I hate that I initially went to the same high school he did, and that the street was renamed “Jose Canseco St.” (TRUE)

    I will always love the “what the fuck am I doing here?” look on his face while sitting in the Yankee dugout.

    Another true story: Jose and Ozzie walk into a Blockbuster Video with a couple of, I don’t know, floozies, where my friend was working at at the time. Ozzie begins to mock Jose with a copy of “Tony LaRussa Baseball” for Sega Genesis all around the store.

    • Plank

      Another true story: Jose and Ozzie walk into a Blockbuster Video with a couple of, I don’t know, floozies, where my friend was working at at the time. Ozzie begins to mock Jose with a copy of “Tony LaRussa Baseball” for Sega Genesis all around the store.

      The only thing I get from that story is that Jose Canseco is awesome.

  • Donny

    I had heard a story a while back that while Canseco was on the Rangers, he was approached by some teammates that included A-Rod. Apparently, as the story goes, Canseco was asked to walk away quietly from baseball because he was so being so blatant with his steroid use that he was going to ruin it for everyone else. I believe whenever you hear Canseco talk about being black-balled, he is referencing this altercation. Has anyone else heard this story before?

    • Steve (different one)

      This is hilarious, the timelines between Canseco’s time in Texas and A-Rod are so far off, it’s ludicrous. A-Rod wasn’t even in the majors yet when Canseco played for the Rangers. There is like a 7 year gap between their time in Texas.

      What’s next, A-Rod convinced Shoeless Joe to throw the WS….as reported by ESPN-NY?

      • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

        Actually it was reported by NESN but we get your point.

  • TrollHunter

    So Cash tried to block the Blue Jays from getting Canseco and got stuck with him? But since the Blue Jays had a worse record than the Yankees wouldn’t the Blue Jays have been given the claim anyway? Correct me if I’m wrong.

    • jsbrendog

      hmmmm…good point

    • Jonathan

      I think it might have been after the July 31st trade deadline where a player has to clear waivers to be eligible for the playoff roster. That’s all I can think of.

    • Steve (different one)

      I thought about this, but I think Jonathan’s explanation makes sense. The Yankees were worried he would clear waivers and be traded to Toronto (although in my memory, it was Boston). By putting in the claim and not making the trade, that couldn’t happen.

      The Padres got stuck with Randy Meyers in a similar situation in 1998 I think.

      • jsbrendog

        ooooooh right, the jays were figuring no one would claim him cause he had 1 mill left and by trading for him they could get the rays to toss in some dough possibly and the yankees went eh eh and claimed him thinking hed get pulled back…which as we all know, he didnt;. well played

        • TrollHunter

          Thanks for the clarification folks! One thing made me chuckle jsbrendog was the thought of the Rays tossing in some dough for anything!!! LOL!

  • Jonathan

    Does anyone remember the way Kauffman Stadium’s outfield looked like before they remodeled? If not the pic is below but my only real memory of Canseco was seeing how fucking roided out he and Glenallen Hill were standing around the batting cage. Anyway, Canseco consistently hit balls over the Dodge truck in left and in those white flags above the truck in batting practice. That and how hard he could hit the ball during soft toss.

    I also remember Bonds coming to KC and everyone showing up for batting practice to see the show but he’s literally just hitting ground balls the other way with these half ass, almost fungo/I don’t give a shit, swings. Everyone starts booing and on the final pitch he sees he hits it over the bullpen/Sprint sign in right center and into the concession stands back there. For Ben who I know has been, it would have been up where the “Party Deck” is now. I only ever saw Thome when he was with the Indians hit it that far to RF at the K.,r:2,s:42

    I actually saw Derek Jeter hit one off the square scoreboard in left center about 1/3 way up on the fly…DURING A GAME. Jeter started off the game with 2 rocket doubles to left but he was about to strike out after going 0-2 BADLY on low and away sliders before a short rain delay saved his ass. Then Miguel Cairo gets picked off 1st on the very first play after the rain delay. So Jeter gets to lead off the next inning and these dbag Royals fans sitting in front of us were going on and on about how much Jeter was overrated and mid sentence he hits that bomb. I bookmarked the video clip on but it quit working after like 3 or 4 years and I can never find it.

  • Jakester

    Sorry for typo. Meant: Pineda.

  • Jakester

    Didn’t a fly ball hit Canseco on the top of his head? I know it happened with a Kansas City Royal (Willie something?).

  • Jakester

    Didn’t a fly ball hit Canseco on the top of his head? I know it happened with a Kansas City Royal (Willie something?).

    I can see Dick Gautier (“Hymie the robot” on “Get Smart”) playing Canseco in the movie. Or Captain Binghampton’s lieutenant on “McHale’s Navy.” Either could pass off for Canseco.

  • MrG

    If you don’t have this dude on twitter I’d recommend it. Hilarious stuff.


  • Nathan

    I just remember as a kid, growing up in the Bay Area, that Jose Canseco used to be THE MAN. At least for a short while until I grew up and saw other teams.

    By the time I was a Yankees fan and he came to them, he was done.

  • keith

    If Jose Canseco comes back to the show, that rookie card of his on twitter (@CansecoRookie) would be the holy grail for baseball card collectors, that’s if it already isn’t! Beautiful card! Go check it out!

  • Brentwood Belair

    Why not Jose? He did what it took to make the fans happy. And came clean when others perjured themselves. How many chances did they give Darryl Strawberry? I’m rooting for Jose, even though most of the pitches he’ll ever get will probably be aimed at his head.

    Brentwood Belair