LAS VEGAS – Jose Canseco sits at one of the two long poker tables in the living room of his Las Vegas home, his massive biceps bulging through his tank top, and he’s ready to take a swing at any topic thrown at him.
His perceived banishment from the game? He’ll give you chapter and verse on that.
Regrets over writing the book that made him a pariah in baseball? Yes, plenty.
Do steroid users belong in the Hall of Fame? Hell, yeah, and there are some in there already.
His chances of one day managing in the majors? Better than zero.
Blowing through the $46 million he made as a player? It’s easier than you think.
His choice of attire – tank top and skull cap – on his TV appearances? Fans love it.
Through a good portion of his 52 years on this planet – and some may suggest he belongs in another one – Canseco has earned a reputation for speaking his mind, and he did so for more than an hour in an interview with USA TODAY Sports.
His outspoken nature is part of what made Canseco attractive to the Oakland Athletics and their TV partner, NBC Sports California, who hired him to do pre- and postgame analysis on 25 of the team’s games this season.
This is his first job in the majors since, he believes, being forced into early retirement after the 2001 season at age 37 when no team would offer him a contract, even at the minimum salary.
Canseco is convinced he could have played another five years but was blackballed from the game because of his strong links to performance-enhancing drugs, which he chronicled in the 2005 book Juiced. He went down swinging, accusing big stars like former teammates Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez and Jason Giambi of using steroids. Many of his claims were later confirmed.
Canseco didn’t envision the day he would return to baseball’s good graces – he doesn’t think his current gig meets that description – but the A’s saw their former slugger as a great fit for their needs.