It’s all over the Internet that Jose Canseco got subpoenaed on Tuesday to testify before a grand jury on April 8 about Roger Clemens. Canseco played on three different teams with the embattled former pitcher, currently under federal investigation for lying to Congress in 2008 when he said he never used performance enhancing drugs. For all the news stories on what went down this week, there’s been scant mention of excerpts from Canseco’s book, Vindicated, that lend perspective.
I’ll backtrack for a moment. Sometime in the last few months, I wanted some quick, easy reading, so I picked up what had heretofore been occasional bathroom fare. Surprisingly, Vindicated hasn’t been too bad. Just as Canseco’s previous book, Juiced might be this generation’s equivalent of Ball Four for revealing unflattering secrets about baseball and actually helping the game in the process, Vindicated reads a little like the follow-up to that bestseller, I’m Glad You Didn’t Take it Seriously: self-congratulatory and a little redundant, but also entertaining and occasionally thought-provoking.
Much of the early going in Vindicated centers around Clemens. Canseco writes that Clemens was “effectively excised from my book” but that when they played together, “Roger might say, ‘I think I need a B-twelve shot right about now,'” code for steroids. Canseco adds that though he gave his opinions on Clemens to Pedro Gomez of ESPN and Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes, they weren’t aired, and he even speculates that George W. Bush or his father, both friends of Clemens, “made some calls and took care of things for good ole Roger.” That sounds a little ego-manic and hair-brained.
Later on, we get to something more sober and compelling that could be a preview of what’s to come on April 8. I am bookmarked at page 108, but I scanned the remainder of the book this evening and came across a passage about Canseco’s trip to Houston in 2008 to sign an affidavit that stated he had “no reason to believe” Clemens ever used performance enhancing drugs. Canseco signed, but not before some diffidence, recounting on pages 154-155:
Technically, I didn’t have a single specific reason to believe that Roger had used steroids, but based on his behavior, and based especially on his performance, I had always felt he was using. But now, Jesus– I was very confused. I was sitting there with Roger and a bunch of lawyers, and I didn’t know what to think. I kept asking myself, Do I have one compelling reason to believe he used steroids? One single specific reason that convinces me, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Roger was juicing? The answer was no. No, I did not. And the more time I spent in that room, with the lawyers and with Roger, the more I came to believe that I’d been wrong about him.
So I signed the affidavit.
If it sounds confusing, that’s because it was confusing. I had an abrupt change of heart, yes, and I wish I could explain it better. I felt bad for Roger, sure, and I let myself get sucked into his drama. And maybe that’s exactly what Roger and his lawyers wanted. I honestly can’t say. All I can say is that suddenly Roger had me believing he had never juiced.
The sad part is that on February 13 (of 2008) I watched him go head to head with Brian McNamee, during the congressional hearings, and old Roger didn’t come off too good. Maybe I’d been right the first time. Maybe he had been juicing. And maybe I’d been wrong to change my mind. But in my heart, during my visit to Houston, I came to believe the guy. If I hadn’t believed him, I never would have signed that affidavit. And if I’m wrong about Roger, and he was juicing, I’m pretty sure we’ll know before this book even hits the stands.
I played around with Google, performing searches on some of the most sensational snippets of that excerpt. Short of a book review on Vindicated from two years ago and some promotional material, nothing comes up. Amongst all the news stories I’ve read so far, only a couple outlets even reference Canseco’s conclusion in Vindicated about Clemens not using.