Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds and 5 Retired MLB Stars We Wish Would Just Go Away
The scars of MLB's recent past are beginning to heal and fade. The Steroids Era is growing smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror.
It's been over six years since Major League Baseball was first embarrassed on Capitol Hill in the "steroids hearings" of March 2005. Over three years have passed since the release of the Mitchell Report.
Despite the march of time, there are still a handful of retired MLB stars who, well, we simply wish would just go away—Jose Canseco and Roger Clemens among them.
These players, whether we liked them or not, earned headlines during their playing days for just that—playing the game of baseball and playing it very well.
Now, in retirement, they grab headlines from time to time for all of the wrong reasons—not only adding further public embarrassment to their already tarnished images but, often, also bringing further shame to a sport that is increasingly gaining momentum in distancing itself from a checkered recent past.
Can't these guys just go away?
1. Jose Canseco
Jose Canseco, the self-proclaimed "godfather of steroids," last played in the bigs in 2001, when he appeared in 76 games for the White Sox.
In the subsequent decade of his colorful life, Canseco has not shied from the spotlight, making the requisite athlete-fallen-from-grace moves. These moves included appearing in a TV show with a porn star, writing a self-promoting book that barely rivals middle school locker room gossip and trying his hand at martial arts.
Don't believe me?
In 2003, he appeared in the reality-TV event Stripper's Ball: Jenna Jameson with Dennis Rodman and Magic Johnson.
In 2005, Canseco wrote Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big, in which he admitted taking anabolic steroids.
Canseco named Jason Giambi, Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro as fellow juicers, which led to Giambi, McGwire and Palmeiro all joining Canseco in testifying before Congress in the infamous "steroids hearings."
Finally, over the past four years, Canseco has taken up an interest in various martial arts. He holds black belts in both karate and taekwondo and has appeared in various celebrity boxing matches and MMA fights.
Most recently, Canseco appeared in the current season of The Celebrity Apprentice. He withdrew in the fifth week, however, citing the health of his ailing father.
2. Roger Clemens
In his later years, Roger Clemens' contracts were outstandingly lavish and full of sweeteners, like his "family plan" which allowed to skip New York's road trip in 2007, his final year pitching.
With a polarizing character and a fiery edge, there were enough reasons to hope that The Rocket's exit from baseball would be clear and quiet.
It has been neither.
Clemens was one of the top names linked to the Mitchell Report of Dec. 2007. In the report, his former trainer, Brian McNamee, alleges that he provided steroids and other PEDs for Clemens from 1998 through 2001.
Since the release of the Mitchell Report, Clemens has been involved in two slow-moving judicial processes as he vehemently denies the allegations of doping levied against him.
His defamation of character lawsuit against McNamee is at a standstill at the present. However, Clemens (and McNamee) will appear in court in July in a separate case, a perjury trial, stemming inconsistencies in Clemens' testimony before Congress in Feb. 2008, for which he was indicted, along with other counts, last August.
In both cases, Clemens will likely have to face testimony against him from former friend and teammate Andy Pettitte, who was also implicated by McNamee in the Mitchell Report.
It is interesting how Pettitte has come out smelling like roses with his measure of humility, his stance on Clemens, his own performance over the recent year and, perhaps most importantly, how he has otherwise kept his mouth shut.
If Clemens' legal saga was not enough to disgust, Clemens was accused of having an affair during the 1990s with country singer Mindy McCready in a New York Daily News story in May 2008. In wake of the McCready story, Clemens has also been linked to John Daly's ex-wife, Paulette Dean Daly. Other stories, some with more legs than others, sprouted up regarding The Rocket's knack for sexual liaisons in various other American League cities.
Clemens may very well be the best pitcher of his generation, however his reputation has been severely sullied by his connection with steroids, his subsequent handling of said accusations—not to mention the claims of adultery.
3. Barry Bonds
Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron's career home runs record on Aug. 7, 2007, in what has come to pass as his final season. Bonds' presence, however, endures.
Like Roger Clemens, Bonds is involved in a perjury trial. As Clemens sits twiddling his thumbs waiting for July, Bonds' case is going on right now in San Francisco.
Bonds' perjury charges stem from grand jury testimony he gave back in Dec. 2003 regarding his association with BALCO. In April 2006, CNN reported that Bonds' testimony from 2003 was under investigation from a federal grand jury.
This jury ultimately indicted Bonds on perjury and several other counts in Nov. 2007.
The charges dispute Bonds' denial about knowingly taking steroids as well as his denial that his former personal trainer, Brett Anderson, had been the one to provide PEDs for him.
Bonds spent virtually his entire career at odds with the media, his teammates, his friends and even his family. He is a man we don't want to know too well but we can't help ourselves from gawking at his blunders, both private and public.
As other 'roid users faded into the background of the American conscience, Bonds stuck around with his brutally slow march toward breaking Aaron's record.
Well he broke the record, hasn't played in three seasons, and his team has completely turned around its image and perception.
To heck with LeBron, can Barry Bonds please just disappear?
4. Sammy Sosa
Sammy Sosa will forever be linked to Mark McGwire; his rival home run smasher over the summer of 1998. And indeed, much of Sosa's ill repute is realized in comparison to McGwire, who has enjoyed a significantly smoother ride and kinder reputation in recent years.
McGwire would win the race to 62, fittingly against the Cubs, and Sosa played a proud and gracious runner-up. He did all of the right things, said all of the right things and the pageantry of the moment was further advanced by the magnanimity of Sosa.
How can we ever forget that bawling bear hug between the two men at the home plate of old Busch Stadium?
We can't. And we also can't forget the ugliness that has ensued for these two men in the subsequent decade. Both were also subpoenaed and appeared before Congress in 2005.
McGwire infamously rambled and declared, multiple times, that "he was not here to talk about the past."
Sosa, meanwhile, seemingly lost his proficient command of the English language and said not a word himself, relying upon statements from his lawyer.
In 2009, former manager Tony LaRussa reached out to McGwire and named him the Cardinal's hitting coach. Prior to the 2010 season, McGwire came clean, more or less. He has done his job in St. Louis quietly and professionally, and, for that, the media has stopped hounding him, which is perhaps the most acceptance the man can hope for given his circumstances.
Sosa, on the other hand, has admitted to no ill-doings. He last played baseball in 2007, when he suited up for the Rangers. In 2009, in an interview with ESPN Deportes, Sosa arrogantly declared that he was awaiting his induction into Cooperstown patiently because he knows his statistics merit his selection.
Not much has been heard from Sosa as of late. However, in late 2009, he made splashes with his visibly whiter appearance at that year's Grammy Latino Awards in Las Vegas.
Can Sammy Sosa quit his Michael Jackson impersonation and just go away?!?
5. Pete Rose
We wish Pete Rose would go away? What's he doing on this list?
Yes, we wish Pete-Rose-as-we-know-him would go away.
How does that happen? Well it is quite simple: Charlie Hustle needs to be reinstated by commissioner Bud Selig.
If Rose is reinstated, his life will quite literally change overnight.
The man has been forced to prostitute himself and liberally and tirelessly pawn his memorabilia to make ends meet. He can't sell anything that is an MLB product, and, likewise, he cannot have MLB sell any products related to him. There is nothing good about this situation for anyone, but, in particular, in affects Rose, who has not enjoyed a smooth life after baseball.
If Rose is reinstated, he will, in due time, end up in Cooperstown—the rightful spot for the game's career leader in hits, at-bats and games played, for man who was a 17-time All-Star, a .303 hitter over 24 seasons and a three-time World Series champion.
Selig allowed Rose to appear in Cincinnati last September at the 25th anniversary ceremony of Rose breaking Ty Cobb's hits record. Rose got a tremendous reception and he gave it backsaying all of the right things for, seemingly, the first time since his disgrace.
We wish the current version of Pete Rose would go away because his current state is both an embarrassment to himself and, moreover, to the sport of baseball.