When Jose Canseco burst into the Major Leagues in the 1980s, he changed the sport -- in more ways than one. No player before him possessed his mixture of speed and power, which allowed him to become the first man in history to belt more than forty home runs and swipe more than forty bases in the same season. He won Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, and a World Series ring.
Canseco shattered the mold of the out-of-shape baseball player and ushered in a new era of superathletes who looked like bodybuilders, made outrageous salaries, and enjoyed rock-star lifestyles. And the ticket for this ride? Steroids. Behind the gaudy stats and the glamour of his public life, Canseco cultivated a secret just about everyone in MLB knew about, one that would alter the game of baseball and the way we view our heroes forever. Canseco made himself a guinea pig of the performance-enhancing drugs that were only just beginning to infiltrate the American underground. Anabolic steroids, human growth hormones -- Canseco mixed, matched, and experimented to such a degree that he became known throughout the league as "The Chemist." He passed his knowledge on to trainers and fellow players, and before long, performance-enhancing drugs were running rampant throughout Major League Baseball. Sluggers scooping up pitches at their ankles and blasting them out of the park, pitchers cranking fastballs inning after inning -- Canseco showed the players how to customize their doses to sculpt the bodies they wanted, and baseball as we know it was the result.
Today, this issue has crept out of the closet and burst into the headlines as players balloon to herculean proportions and hundred-year-old records are not only broken, but also demolished. In this shocking memoir, Canseco sheds light on a life of dizzying highs and debilitating lows, provides the answers to questions about steroids that millions of fans are only now beginning to ask -- and suggests that, far from being a passing trend, the steroid revolution is only a taste of things to come.
Who's juiced? According to Canseco's authoritative account, more than you think. And baseball will never be the same.
Chief among his claims is that he introduced Mark McGwire to steroids in 1988 and that he often injected McGwire while they were teammates. According to Canseco, steroids and human growth hormones gave McGwire and Sammy Sosa (whose own usage was "so obvious, it was a joke") the strength, stamina, regenerative ability, and confidence they needed for a record-setting home run duel often credited with restoring baseball's popularity after the 1994 strike. Although he devotes a lot of ink to McGwire, Canseco envisions himself as a kind of Johnny Steroidseed, spreading the gospel of performance enhancement, naming a number of players that he either personally introduced to steroids or is relatively certain he can identify as fellow users. Because Canseco plays fast and loose with some of the facts of his own career he provides fodder for those looking to damage his credibility, but in many ways questions of public and personal perception are what raise the book beyond mere vitriolic tell-all. Those willing to heed his request and truly listen to what he has to say will find Juiced to be an occasionally insightful meditation on the workings of public perception and a consistently interesting character study. --Shane Farmer