(if nothing else, Lou Ferrigno might’ve found the breakout part he’s been coveting since “Cage”)

Select quotes from the newly released “Juiced : Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big”

“I don’t know Sammy Sosa personally, so I can’t say for a fact that he ever took steroids. But I remember thinking that his transformation looked even more dramatic than Mark McGwire’s. … He gained 30 pounds, just like that, and got up to 260 so fast, you could see the bloating in his face and neck. It seemed so obvious, it was a joke.”

“Throughout his career, Cal Ripken Jr. was completely protected by the media. … He even got a pass on the way he dealt with the other players. He used to stay at a separate hotel from the rest of the team, and take a separate car from the team bus. The official explanation was that it was for security reasons, but we minority players couldn’t help feeling otherwise.”

“There was a huge double standard in baseball, and white athletes like Mark McGwire, Cal Ripken Jr. and Brady Anderson were protected and coddled in a way that an outspoken Latino like me never would be. Canseco the Cuban was left out in the cold, where racism and double standards rule.”

Is Jose Canseco a self-serving creep? Hell, yeah. Does that make him less than credible? Absolutely not. In what probably wasn’t the sort of launch Major League Baseball had in mind for their XM Home Plate Channel, Canseco sat down with former manager Kevin Kennedy and fellow brother-in-bulk Rob Dibble, and continued his less-than-contrite spiel, further implicating Sammy Sosa in the process (“the Sammy and Mark show, they were both juiced, no ifs, ands or buts about it.”_

Afterwards, XM’s somewhat overmatched Ronnie Lane struggled to contend with hysterical callers. Among the knee-jerk reactions aired :

Isn’t Jose just doing this for the money?

Well, sure. But the host of the show isn’t working for free, either. Maybe if someone would invite Jose to Spring Training ala Darryl Strawberry, he wouldn’t be writing nasty books or auctioning off the chance to hang out with him for a day.

How come we’ve never heard any other player talk about this until now?

Indeed, Canseco’s revelations are mindblowing, especially if you’ve not paid attention to the comments of Ken Caminiti, Andy Van Slyke, or Jason Giambi or Gary Sheffield’s own grand jury testimony. And you also might be, y’know, blind.

How come Jose is only trashing superstars? If ‘roids make such a dramatic impact on marginal players, why aren’t we hearing about any of them?

What, you’re gonna pay $25 to find out that Randy Velarde was on the juice?

Lane and his genius callers have been bringing up the notion of putting an asterix on the home run records of Bonds, McGwire and Sosa. Which is a stirring idea, except the only player from that trio that actually holds the single-year record is Bonds. Had Barry not passed McGwire, on what grounds would the latter’s ’98 total be qualified? Because he used substances that weren’t illegal at the time?

The prevaling sensibility of XM’s callers was summed up by the bozo who described himself as a “baseball purist”, whose fantasy would be to “climb into a time capsule and go back to watch Babe Ruth play.” Night Train Lane neglected to make a distinction between a time capsule and a time-travel machine. Climbing into the former would result in quick suffocation. Climbing into the latter, under the best of circumstances, would let you watch Babe Ruth play, and under the worst of circumstances, you’d find out that Crispin Glover was your dad. That small point aside, baseball purity can also be considered code for “whites only”.

For once, Dan Patrick deserves credit for accepting some small share of blame today, admitting that he, like 99% of the public, “bought into” baseball’s long ball barrage and was in denial about where the power came from. “You don’t want to know how they make the hot dogs.” said Patrick on his ESPN afternoon show. And while Jose Canseco is no Morgan Spurlock, I respectfully disagree. Let’s find out how they make the hot dogs.