When you look back in the darkness of MLB history, long before the Astros cheating scandal, you’ll find a man named Jose Canseco that just about ruined baseball in 2005.
In 2005, Jose Canseco ruined baseball. Not that the steroid scandal wasn’t suspected among MLB fans, but the MLB Commissioner of that era – Bud Selig (September 7, 1992 – January 24, 2015) kept it hidden under the rug, knowing that Major League Baseball was enjoying a revitalized audience.
Back in 1998, Chicago Cubs outfielder, Sammy Sosa, and St. Louis Cardinals first baseman, Mark McGwire, engaged in one of the most tantalizing head-to-head competitions of all the time, in the form of a regular-season home run derby. The two combined for a total of 136 homers that year, but alas, it was all an illusion.
It would take another seven years after the 1998 home run race, but Canseco would blow the lid off of the steroid scandal, ruin the presumed legitimacy of the Sosa – McGwire race, trigger a congressional investigation, and ruin careers, especially those of would-be future Hall of Famers.
MLB History: Jose Canseco Ruined Baseball With a Book
Best known as a power-hitting outfielder and a designated hitter, Canseco spent the majority of his time with the Oakland Athletics (nine seasons; 1985-1992, 1997), but also played for a handful of other American League teams over the years (Rangers, Devil Rays, Red Sox, Yankees, White Sox, and the Blue Jays), finally retiring from the Major League level in 2001. Canseco was also a self-admitted steroid addict.
During his steroid tarnished career, Jose Canseco would slash .266/.353/.515, with an OPS of .867 and a career WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 42.4. Canseco also collected multiple All-Star Game appearances, a Silver Slugger Award, and an MVP Award; but how much of those was ill-gotten gains?
In 2005, a washed-up and worn-out Canseco decided to attempt to further line his pockets, by authoring and releasing a book on the rampant steroid scandal which consumed baseball (the title has intentionally been withheld here, so as not to promote it).
With Canseco’s book flying off the shelves, neither MLB nor the United States Congress could turn a blind eye to the scandal any longer. Yes, to sell a few books, Jose Canseco ruined baseball, sold out his friends and former teammates, and crushed MLB’s return in popularity among fans.
MLB History: The Mitchell Report
Better known as the Mitchell Report, Senator George Mitchell (D-Maine) entitled his 20-month investigation on MLB Steroid use, “Report to the Commissioner of Baseball of an Independent Investigation into the Illegal Use of Steroids and Other Performance Enhancing Substances by Players in Major League Baseball“. Mitchell’s 409 page report was released in December 2007.
That report sparked a Congressional hearing, in which countless players testified; some admitting their involvement, with others vehemently denying it. Among those who testified were Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. While McGwire tearfully admitted his steroid use, Sosa stuck to his script of denial, subsequently causing the Chicago Cubs to cut ties with Sosa, barring him forever from Wrigley Field, until he apologized and owned up to his steroid use.
Were McGwire’s tears due to sincerity and the realization that his actions helped to bring down the legitimacy of ‘America’s Pasttime’, or were they simply a byproduct because he’d been among those who were caught?
Yes, the Mitchell Report Hearings put the final daggers into the careers of many, including those of Sosa, McGwire, Clemens, and others, as the quartet (and then some), await the day that they may finally be allowed into Cooperstown. Year in and year out, those names appear on the Hall of Fame ballots, but they never garner enough votes.
For many, when it came to the MLB steroid scandal, ignorance was bliss, but lest you ever forget that Jose Canseco ruined baseball. MLB History will never forget.
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