The Great Lon Simmons once said Jose Canseco has the tools to be one of the greatest players in the history of MLB…. Where did it all go wrong? I grew up an A’s fan, but didn’t go to my first game until I was 14. 1988 was the year. I remember back then the stadium was pretty much packed every night. Maybe a few empty seats up in the nose bleeds, but that was it. That monstrosity in the outfield known as Mount Davis wasn’t there yet, it was a very nice family friendly place to watch a game.. Everyone came to see the Bash Brothers. Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco and company. They were the show in MLB in the mid 80’s to early 90’s. In Canseco’s first year he belted 33 homeruns. Not to be outdone, McGwire comes up the next year and hits 49 homeruns, a rookie record still to this day. Say what you want about the steroid scandal with these players, but back then when they first came up they were’nt on the juice. It’s especially noticeable in McGwire as he was a tall skinny kid with an uppercut swing.
Jose Canseco was the next big thing in baseball.. A big guy with speed on the bases and in the outfield, a very strong arm, hits for power and average. He was one of those rare 5 tool players with a lot of upside. Never was his talent more apparent than In 1988, Canseco’s 3rd full year in the league. That year he hit .307 with 42 homeruns and 40 stolen bases. He became the first player in baseball history to hit at least 40 homeruns and steal at least 40 bases in the same season. He was the original Mr. 40/40, not bad for a guy 6’4″ 240… He took home the MVP award that year, but that’s when I think it started to fall completely apart.
When you are blessed with talent galore, a lot of times you tend to be a little arrogant. Canseco is probably one of the most arrogant guys to ever play in MLB.. The lisence plate on his new sports car read simply 40 40, but still he was amazing to watch. I remember going early to games to watch batting practice. I’d run to the bleachers to try and get into possition to catch a ball off of McGwire or Canseco’s bat. Today, the A’s batting practice is closed to the public. All you’re allowed to see is the visiting team. I wondered why that was. Why don’t they allow fans to watch the A’s take bating practice? Well I don’t know their reason behind it, but I really believe batting practice helped ruin Jose Canseco.
Think about this. He was a guy with more natural talent than anyone else in the game. He could do it all.. But fans come to see the long ball, and being the arrogant guy that he was, he started to buy into that. That’s when steroids came in. He and McGwire were good friends, but they were also fierce competitors. One guy hits a homerun, the other wanted to hit 2. One guy hits a homerun 420 feet the other guy wants to hit one 450 feet. And trust me, the fans were watching.. It got to the point where all Canseco really cared about was killing the ball, hitting it further than anyone could imagine.
For the next few years after his MVP season, Canseco’s batting average stayed around the .260-.270 range then dropping dramatically to the .230’s-.250’s… His playing time deminished as well. Only once since he was traded from Oakland in 1991 did he play in more than 150 games, and that was in 1998 with Toronto when he hit .237, but with 46 homeruns.. He had a few years in between there where his average looked ok, but those were years where he didn’t play everyday as a starter, or was just hurt a lot. If Canseco wasn’t as arrogant and stupid as he was, he would have easily gone down as one of the best players in history, and it may very well be him that everyone is chasing for the homerun record. He chose to put on a show to please the fans that night instead of putting on a great talent filled non cheating career that would have pleased the fans for a life time.
This article was originally published by jrocco525 at rootzoo.com, where he’s very involved in the sports world. All the die-hard sports fans at rootzoo enjoy chatting on the sports forum with him. He’s also very well known for the interesting sports polls he creates on a daily basis.