Another scandal has enveloped baseball, and once again it revolves around steroid use, thanks to former baseball player Jose Canseco's new book. In "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ’Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big," Canseco writes that he helped make steroid use a norm in the sport and explains why he thinks the drugs are the future of the game. Read an excerpt.
A Look to the Future
These past few years, all you had to do was turn on a radio or flip to a sports cable channel, and you could count on hearing some blowhard give you his opinion about steroids and baseball and what it says about our society and blah blah blah. Well, enough already. I’m tired of hearing such short-sighted crap from people who have no idea what they’re talking about. Steroids are here to stay. That’s a fact. I guarantee it. Steroids are the future. By the time my eight-year-old daughter, Josie, has graduated from high school, a majority of all professional athletes — in all sports — will be taking steroids. And believe it or not, that’s good news.
Let’s be clear what we are talking about. In no way, shape, or form, do I endorse the use of steroids without proper medical advice and thorough expert supervision. I’ll say it again: Steroids are serious. They are nothing to mess around with casually, and if anything, devoting yourself to the systematic use of steroids means you have to stay away from recreational drugs. I was never into that stuff anyway, cocaine and all that, but if you’re going to work with steroids, you have to get used to clean living, smart eating, and taking care of yourself by getting plenty of rest and not overtaxing your body.
I’m especially critical of anyone who starts playing around with steroids too early, when they are barely old enough to shave and not even fully grown yet. Your body is already raging with hormones at that age, and the last thing you want to do is wreak havoc with your body’s natural balance. If you want to turn yourself into a nearly superhuman athlete, the way I did, you need to wait until you have matured into adulthood. That way your body can handle it. And you shouldn’t fool yourself into thinking that all you need to do is just read a few articles on steroids, either. What you need to do is to absorb every scrap of information and insight on the subject — to become an expert on the subject, the way I did.
We’re talking about the future here. I have no doubt whatsoever that intelligent, informed use of steroids, combined with human growth hormone, will one day be so accepted that everybody will be doing it. Steroid use will be more common than Botox is now. Every baseball player and pro athlete will be using at least low levels of steroids. As a result, baseball and other sports will be more exciting and entertaining. Human life will be improved, too. We will live longer and better. And maybe we’ll love longer and better, too.
We will be able to look good and have strong, fit bodies well into our sixties and beyond. It’s called evolution, and there is no stopping it. All these people crying about steroids in baseball now will look as foolish in a few years as the people who said John F. Kennedy was crazy to say the United States would put a man on the moon. People who see the future earlier than others are always feared and misunderstood.
The public needs to be informed about the reality of steroids and how they have affected the lives of many star baseball players, including me. Have I used steroids? You bet I did. Did steroids make me a better baseball player? Of course they did. If I had it all to do over again, would I live a steroid-enriched life? Yes, I would. Do I have any regrets or qualms about relying on chemicals to help me hit a baseball so far? To be honest, no, I don’t.
We human beings are made up of chemicals. High school chemistry students learn to recite “CHOPKINS CaFe,” which is all the chemical elements that make up the human body: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorous, potassium, iodine, nitrogen, sulfur, calcium, and iron. Maybe it bothers some people to think of our bodies as just a collection of those elements, but I find it comforting.
I like studying the body and how it works. I like knowing all about what makes us stronger and faster. If you learn about the chemicals that make up life, and study the hormones coursing through our bloodstreams that give our bodies instructions, you can learn how to improve your health through controlled use of steroids. And you can do it safely.
Yes, you heard me right: Steroids, used correctly, will not only make you stronger and sexier, they will also make you healthier. Certain steroids, used in proper combinations, can cure certain diseases. Steroids will give you a better quality of life and also drastically slow down the aging process.
If people learn how to use steroids and growth hormone properly, especially as they get older — sixty, seventy, eighty years old — their way of living will change completely. If you start young enough, when you are in your twenties, thirties, and forties, and use steroids properly, you can probably slow the aging process by fifteen or twenty years. I’m forty years old, but I look much younger — and I can still do everything the way I could when I was twenty-five.
When I talk in detail about steroids and how I single-handedly changed the game of baseball by introducing them into the game, I am saying what everyone in baseball has known for years. To all my critics, to everyone who wants to turn this into a debate about me, Jose Canseco, let me quote my favorite actor (besides Arnold Schwarzenegger, that is) and say: You can’t handle the truth.
That is the story of baseball in recent years. Everyone in the game has been hoping the lie could last as long as possible. They wanted steroids in the game to make it more exciting, hoping they would be able to build its popularity back up after the disastrous cancellation of the 1994 World Series. So when I taught other players how to use steroids, no one lifted a finger to stop me. When I educated trainers and others on how to inject players with steroids, there was nothing standing in my way. Directly or indirectly, nearly everyone in baseball was complicit.
How do I know that? I was known as the godfather of steroids in baseball. I introduced steroids into the big leagues back in 1985, and taught other players how to use steroids and growth hormone. Back then, weight lifting was taboo in baseball. The teams didn’t have weight-lifting programs. Teams didn’t allow it. But once they saw what I could do as a result of my weight lifting, they said, “My God, if it’s working for Jose, it’s gotta work for a lot of players.”
So all of a sudden ballparks were being built with brand-new, high-tech weight-lifting facilities, and at the older ballparks they were moving stuff around and remodeling to make room for weight rooms. I definitely restructured the way the game was played. Because of my influence, and my example, there were dramatic changes in the way that players looked and the way they played. That was because of changes in their nutrition, their approach to fitness and weight lifting, and their steroid intake and education.
If you asked any player who was the one who knew about steroids, they’d all tell you: Jose Canseco.
Who do you go to when you want information on steroids?
Who do you go to if you wanted to know if you were using it properly?
If you picked up this book just for a few juicy tales about which players I’ve poked with needles full of steroids, or what it was like when Madonna sat on my lap and asked me to kiss her, that’s fine with me. I’ve lived a colorful life, and people have always been curious about the things I’ve done. If you want to flip through the chapters looking for the highlights, I have no problem with that (as long as you pay the cover price, of course).
But let me be clear that I’m writing this book for people who are ready to think for themselves. That’s all I’m asking. Hear me out, listen to what I have to say about baseball and other things, and come to your own conclusions. That might sound easy, but believe me, coming to terms with a true picture of what has been going on in baseball in the past ten years or so might not be what you really want.
Do I expect some skepticism from people? Of course I do. I’ve made some mistakes in the past. I’ve made mistakes in my personal life, and I’ve made mistakes in public, too. There have been times when I spoke out without realizing how my comments might sound to people. That’s all water under the bridge. Now, I’m looking to the rest of my life, not dwelling on what might have been.
I’m telling the truth about steroids in this book because someone has to do it. We’re long overdue for some honesty and, as any ballplayer will tell you, I know the real story of steroids in baseball better than any man alive. I’m also in a position to tell you the truth because I no longer have any ties with Major League Baseball, and I have no interest in the politics and double standards of Major League Baseball. I’m my own man and always have been.
The foregoing is excerpted from “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ’Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big,” by Jose Canseco. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022