” Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.” Nietzsche
I recently read John Updike’s short story entitled “1960: hub fans bid kid adieu;” a glorified monument to Ted Williams’ final game at Fenway park. The long and wordy piece was impressive in its literary and authoritarian tone, reminding me of my own inadequacies when it comes to the English language, but also reminding me that the reader shouldn’t be bored out of their minds while the writer achieves some sort of mental jerk-off. Story finally completed and compartmentalized, one line stuck out like a huge pair of bosoms in the crowded bleachers; “Gods never answer letters.”
Jose Canseco was a god to me as a freckle faced, no girlfriend -having Jr. high schooler; he was the young, handsome baseball phenom, an Oakland A’s outfielder with unlimited potential, a muscular slugger with mythical power. After retiring, he wrote a book, “Juiced,” that rocked the baseball world, outing several superstar big leaguers as steroid users, or “juicers.” (The best part of the book being Canseco telling A-Rod that he ” hated him” after Mr. Yankee tried numerous times to fuck his wife) After a long and tiresome “sting operation” by the powers that be in the MLB kingdom (pathetically, i may add, as they knew this behavior was happening but thought home runs would bring the pissed off fans back after the strike of ’94.) they installed a new, more thorough way of testing players, all but eliminating steroid use in baseball and lowering home run totals dramatically. MLB needed a scapegoat, and they got it. Canseco was universally seen as a pariah for writing the book which all but astounded me for 2 reasons. 1) he was “cleaning up the game” single-handedly, (or at least bringing media attention to it) and 2) making some bread while he was doing it which seems to follow the age-old baseball adage of making money unethically and in a clownish manner at all costs no matter what the cost. Here we had a someone ready to speak out and debunk the myth of a “tighter wound ball” and baseball fans (mostly working class may i add) were siding with the money hungry, uber-capitalists that disrespected the hallowed home run totals for a quick buck at MLB. (reminding me of the controversy and backlash Jim Bouton received after his 1970 book, “Ball Four” was released. I had a chance to meet him, he is a wonderful man and I absolutely adore that book.)
Canseco continued his “career” playing for virtually peanuts for the Yuma Scorpions of the North American League in 2011, was banned in 2012 from playing with a Mexican team, the Quintana Roo Tigers for using testosterone; and finally in April, was signed by the Worchester Tornadoes of the Canadian/ American Association of Professional Baseball. Reading the latter story made me feel as if Canseco was a sad specimen, holding on to his youth and past glory; but also a bit of admiration because of his love for the game that keeps us all clicking the turnstiles no matter how uninterested the players are with our historical musings and passionate regional rivalries. I suppose then, I owe Mr. Updike a posthumous apology, as his admired, single statement above jolted these feelings lose and vehemently spread upon the page before you. It also reminded me of a fan letter I had written to Canseco in 2011, hoping that he would answer because of his bush league status. Hoping that perhaps he was humbled and ready to give something back to the fans that had enjoyed him as a player, author, cheater and jackass. Alas…. Gods never answer letters.