The term shock-jock has taken on a whole new meaning since Jose Canseco's book, “Juiced,” hit the shelves. Canseco's allegations of rampant steroid use has stunned the world of baseball. The former MVP and six-time all-star admits that steroids were the key to his success, but he doesn't stop there. He also names some of baseball's most recognizable superstars as steroid users, including former home-run king Mark McGwire and current Yankee Jason Giambi. Since the release of his book, Canseco's been called a liar and a cheat. But it's baseball's reputation that now has fans talking. “Today” host Matt Lauer talks with Canseco about the book and his allegations.
Matt Lauer: Surprised by the reaction to the book?
Jose Canseco: None whatsoever. It's extremely hard to believe what's been going on in Major League Baseball for the last 10 to 15 years. But something will occur in the next month or so that will prove my book 100 percent accurate.
Lauer: What's that? What will occur?
Canseco: We'll have to wait and see.
Lauer: Let me give you some reaction. You name names in this book, and that's created the most controversy. Jason Giambi called your book delusional and farfetched. Mark McGwire said, "Once and for all I did not use steroids nor any illegal substance. I feel sorry to see someone turn to such drastic measures to accomplish a personal agenda at the expense of so many." And your former manager at Oakland, Tony LaRussa, had this to say:
”I'm embarrassed that I was a manager of yours and that I couldn't have shed more of a professional light and a personal light on how you should conduct yourself. You know, you're staining the guy. You're doing it for whatever your personal motivations are. And for people that say, ‘Well, there may be truth to it,’ there isn't any truth to it.”
Lauer: So they're calling you a liar, a traitor, a person motivated by greed. Was this book worth it?
Canseco: Well, I don't think [they] have really read this book completely because there is a huge human interest story involved here. Basically the book is on my life and what a minority athlete has to go through, what he has to deal with, nonetheless, the steroid issue. Obviously, these individuals will deny this 100 percent. Tony LaRussa will definitely deny it because obviously Mark McGwire was part of the Oakland A's, which made Tony LaRussa one of the most well-known managers. Then Tony LaRussa wasn't involved in any way, shape or form [in getting] Mark McGwire over to the Cardinals and turned that organization into what it is today.
Lauer: I talked to people about this, Jose, and they have one of two things to say. They say either Jose Canseco is purely out for money, that he's a guy who needs money, has shown in the past he's willing to do certain things to get money and this is all about selling books and he doesn't care whose reputation he tarnishes. How do you feel about that?
Canseco: That's not true because I'm involved in the book also, and … I took steroids in the past also. I think a lot of people are afraid of the truth. Obviously, I've been involved in Major League Baseball for 17 years. I brought a lot of things into the game. I involved a lot of people, and they involved me. It's about time that the media, the public [and] my fans, know the truth. You know, who is Jose Canseco?
Lauer: It's been reported that you owe over $32,000 to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. ESPN reported that you were trying to sell your 2000 New York Yankees World Series ring online. You've got autographed baseballs out there. You've sold your MVP award for $30,000. Does the money issue damage your credibility?
Canseco: Well, let's talk about perception and reality. How many things that you just mentioned are true?
Lauer: How many? What is true?
Canseco: None of them are. You mentioned certain things were sold. They have not been sold.
Lauer: You're trying to sell?
Canseco: Even if I were worth $100 million today, I would get rid of every aspect of, or any tie that I would have to Major Legal Baseball. You mentioned [the] tax issue, $30,000. Let me give you the truth about it, not what the media perceives to be the truth. Because in my life it's amazing, because what is the truth about Jose Canseco, and what is the perception? What does the media create? What does the media say a person...
Lauer: Do you owe $32,000 to Massachusetts?
Canseco: I guess I do. My CPA years back was involved in a divorce. She was actually divorced. She was so depressed...
Lauer: I guess the question is, do you have money problems? Do you need to make money and did you write this book and not care what you said in it just to make money?
Canseco: Absolutely not. I truly believe that right now these athletes and these managers can call me whatever they want, but somewhere down the line, and very soon, they're going to be ashamed of what they're actually saying.
Lauer: You write in the book that in 2001 you discussed steroids with Bret Boone, who's playing for the Mariners, during a spring training game. You were on second base [and] you noticed how big he'd gotten. You made a comment to him and he said something to the effect of, “Shhh, don't tell anyone.” Of course, baseball writers have gone in, and they've looked at the records. And during spring training in any game versus the Angels and the Mariners, you never reached second base.
Canseco: I was on first base. One of our players walked or actually hit a single. They may have made a mistake in the actual book, but believe me, this incident did happen.
Lauer: You accuse pitcher Tony Saunders of using steroids. You say in the book you'll take a lie detector test, that you'll go out there and compare lie detector results from you and anyone else. He said, “OK,” he'll do that. He's heard that you'll only take a lie detector test if it's on pay-per-view. Is that, first of all, correct?
Canseco: We have to deal with perception against reality.
Lauer: Are you trying to sell a pay-per-view event of you taking a lie detector test on these issues?
Canseco: We will have to wait. Something is being set up right now.
Lauer: Is that the event you're talking about in the next month?
Canseco: I cannot talk about it right now.
Lauer: If you were to take a lie detector test, why not do it for free? Why not silence your critics and say, “Jose Canseco's not about money. If he takes the lie detector test, take it on this show. We won't pay you.”
Canseco: Well, like I said, this event is being set up soon and the issue is this: This book is devastating. It's the most interesting, fascinating book that has ever been written in sports, and it cannot be kept away from the fans, the public, because it's written straight from my mouth to the paper. No media can portray me. No media can portray me in an elusive way. They cannot dilute the book.
Lauer: One final point. On steroids, you write: “Steroids used correctly will not only make you stronger and sexier but make you healthier. If you start young enough you can probably slow the aging process by 15 or 20 years.” Is that the message you want to send to young people in this country?
Canseco: No, I think that's the media sending that message. If you really read the book, that's not the message I'm sending at all. I'm saying steroids are very serious things. Do not use them unless you have proper supervision or a doctor's care or a prescription because they are illegal. Here we start again with the perception that the media's creating. Now, the media for 17 years has created this entity, this perception about me that's completely wrong and completely controlled.
Lauer: When are you going to make this announcement about this event that's going to bolster your credibility?
Canseco: Very soon.
Lauer: Jose Canseco, thanks for being here.
Canseco: Thank you.