Jose Canseco drew fewer than 50 persons to a yack fest at USC’s Bovard Auditorium Friday night, an event that briefly came to life when one of the unlucky attendees asked the former slugger his opinion on Manny Ramirez. From the LA Times’ Kurt Streeter :
Canseco laughs and offers his theory. A-Rod was exposed only when his name was leaked from a list of 104 major leaguers who in a 2003 test showed up positive for steroids. Because the test was anonymous, those names were not supposed to be made public. But in Canseco’s mind, baseball’s power brokers know who is on it: players he is sure will be seen as toxic if the truth comes out.
He says this, despite the fact that A-Rod isn’t being treated as toxic, nor are other players who were caught up in the steroid scandal but publicly apologized, including Miguel Tejada, starting shortstop for the Houston Astros, and Andy Pettitte, a starting pitcher with the New York Yankees.
Why didn’t Ramirez get a long-term deal? Canseco asks. Why were owners gun-shy about signing arguably the game’s best hitter?
Never mind that Ramirez was asking for a mega-deal at age 36. Or that he was negotiating in a sickly economy, while weighed down by the heavy baggage of a surly reputation. Canseco will have none of it. To Canseco, the drawn-out negotiation, the lack of a long-term deal, the lack of interest all raise red flags, and so he tells the Bovard crowd that Ramirez’s “name is most likely, 90%,” on the list.
Canseco admits later that he has no way of knowing. But it makes sense to him, so he threw it out there — kaboom! — swinging for the fences, still.
Late Saturday, I tracked down Ramirez to tell him what Canseco had said. The immediate response is pure Ramirez: He laughs. Sitting at his locker, he says, “I got no comment, nothing to say about that. What can I say? I don’t even know the guy.”