I missed almost the entire Jose Canseco era, so I'm not sure exactly what everyone seems to hate about the guy. What I know is that the hatred and distrust ran deep enough for everyone to write off a book called Juiced that Canseco wrote around 2005. I've only read a few snippets of Juiced, and I don't know enough about Canseco to try to be a judge of character. All I know is what I learned in the aftermath of the publication of Juiced: First, that he was a raging douche bag without a shred of credibility to his name. Second, he was an honest man who was right all along. I picked up his second book, Vindicated, in order to try to have some of it explained.
Judging strictly on the reputation of Juiced, I can say that Vindicated is part epilogue to everything Canseco said in that book and part middle finger extended to all the journalist hacks who tried to write it off. It's a rub-in, a big I-told-you-so to the people who tried their hardest to keep their heads buried in the sand, oblivious for the sake of keeping the Great Keepers of America's Pastime deified. And you know what? Canseco has every right to say it. No one wanted to listen to him, but Uncle Sam landed on his side and now we don't have a choice. Jose Canseco takes some great satisfaction in telling us off, and he's earned the right to say it all.
Vindicated is an angry rant disguised as the story of what happened to Canseco after the publication of Juiced. Juiced is basically the focal point of Vindicated. Canseco writes about what he had to put up with and the things he did, including lie detector tests, to prove that he was telling the truth. He even covers the notorious incident in which he offered to keep Magglio Ordonez's name out of the book in exchange for something, going as far as to take a lie detector test for that too, and placing every question he was asked during every lie detector test into Vindicated.
Jose Canseco writes Vindicated with a huge chip on his shoulder, and that's apparent even from the first chapter when he writes about the hacking of Roger Clemens's name from Juiced. Disrespect is the recurring theme of Vindicated. Throughout the book, Canseco reiterates the fact that although the media and baseball tried to write him off, the fans loved him for writing Juiced. He also mentions fairly frequently that he wrote Juiced in order to get back at baseball for blacklisting him. Again, he has every right to do that because Juiced caused more controversy within the mighty halls of the reigning gods of Major League Baseball. But the fact that Canseco was blacklisted doesn't need to be constantly mentioned. It's more of a public secret than anything. People who follow baseball, whether they love or hate Jose Canseco, already know MLB forced him into retirement by blacklist. The same thing happened to Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. If there are people who couldn't figure it out then, you bet your ass they figured it out when Canseco was voted down by the Cooperstown committee.
Speaking of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, Canseco is notorious for his almost rabidly promotional views on steroids. That's one of the few sections of Juiced that I did read. So it was a little surprising to find him taking such a repentant stance toward them in Vindicated. He acknowledges what he wrote in Juiced, saying that it may be that maturity got to him, and directly takes back what he said earlier. He doesn't come off as completely anti-steroid, but he does say that he wouldn't take steroids if he could do it all over again. He also brings up his days as the Godfather of Steroids, although he doesn't write at length about it.
Surprised I was again at the way Canseco writes about baseball itself. The final chapter of Vindicated, in fact, is a rave about how much he loves baseball and why. It does a lot to remind people who may hate Canseco that he, like most people, got into baseball because he loves it. It's Jose Canseco being sentimental, a mode of him we're not used to seeing, and he writes about his joining a Sunday league and a minor league just for fun after his time in Major League Baseball is over. Even when he writes about steroids, you can tell he has a deep love for the game and the way it feels to hit a home run. And when he writes about hitting home runs, he always mentions that he bulked up to be a home run hitter because the fans love home runs.
That's really all there is to say. Canseco writes in a very breezy, easy-to-read fashion with a matter-of-fact tone. Otherwise, Vindicated is a fun little story to read on a short airplane flight. It lacks meaningful substance, but it isn't bad. In order to get anything out of Vindicated, it would probably help if you look at it like an epilogue to Juiced. Of course, having not read Juiced, I'm not in a position to say that for sure.
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