Thursday, January 24, 2008

Above the Fold - Did Jose Canseco attempt to blackmail Magglio Ordonez?

Late last night a New York Times story hit the wires, claiming Jose Canseco has been accused of "encouraging" the Tigers Maggilo Ordonez to invest in a movie project, in return for keeping his name "clear" of Canseco's upcoming steroids tell-all sequel to "Juiced." In other words, clear = edited out of the book, and encouraging = extortion/blackmail.

Four people in baseball confirmed that referrals were made from Major League Baseball to the F.B.I. regarding Canseco’s actions relating to the six-time All-Star outfielder Magglio Ordonez, who was not mentioned in Canseco’s earlier book or in any other report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. All four insisted on anonymity because they said they didn’t have authority to speak about the events.

The F.B.I. did not open a formal investigation because Ordonez said he did not want to pursue the complaint.

It's turned into a he said, he said argument, with Canseco denying any such thing happened, and Ordonez not want to talk, other than to say, "I don’t want any problems. He is probably desperate for money. I don’t understand why he is trying to put people down."

There's something to the story, as Ordonez thought it serious enough to inform the Tigers of Canseco's supposed threat, with Dave Dombrowski passing it along to the Commissioner's Office, who in turn involved the F.B.I.

When the Feds get involved, your first thought is that there's fire somewhere in all the smoke. The Feds aren't exactly ones to fuck around.

Personally, I'm somewhat torn. Despite being a juicer himself, damn near everything Canseco wrote in "Juiced," and told Congress, was verified in the Mitchell Report. (As for the veracity of the Mitchell Report, that's another post) To the surprise of all, he wasn't blowing smoke out of the ass in which he was also injecting 'roids.

But you cannot deny that Canseco is also a slimy opportunist, a sleaze who would sell his soul, mother, and reputation for any amount of cash and would do anything and everything to stay in the limelight. More damning was his ghostwriter, Don Yeager, taking a pass on writing the 2nd book saying "I had a chance to review the Jose Canseco (material) that he provided me. I don't think there's a book there."

Canseco is telling all and burning bridges not for moral reasons, but strictly for money. So there's plenty of reason to be skeptical.

Still, there's also the fact Ordonez managed to fully recover from what was considered a career threatening, and likely career ending, knee injury. He went from being a near cripple in a great deal of pain, to AL batting champion, in 3 seasons. At the very least, you have to admit some suspicion.

There's questions left begging, and they're big ones. They did play together with the White Sox in 2001. Was Ordonez involved then, or if at all, was it after the knee injury? Is this just hearsay, or does Canseco have proof? Most importantly, if Ordonez was cycling 'roids or taking HGH, and Canseco has known about it, why wasn't that included in "Juiced?"

Between you an me, Canseco doesn't come across as the brightest bulb around, and with "Juiced" being so through, you'd think he shot his entire information wad with that book. To leave Ordonez, who you have to admit is a star, and would have been one of the biggest names sullied by steroids, out of "Juiced" makes absolutely no sense at all.

That's reason alone to remain very skeptical.

The Tigers blogosphere remains unconvinced. At Bless You Boys, Ian looks into the extortion side of the story.

Asked whether Canseco's alleged actions constitute extortion, Daniel C. Richman, a professor at Columbia Law School and a former federal prosecutor, said it would be a hard case to prove. "A demand for an investment isn't as obvious of a threat, and a jury may be less likely to see it as extortion compared to a demand for hard cash," he said.

Something else to consider is how this affects the veracity of the Mitchell Report. For one thing, Canseco obviously didn't tell George Mitchell everything he supposedly knew. And Mitchell apparently didn't know of Canseco hitting players up for money, nor any F.B.I. investigations into the matter. At least such information isn't in the report.

We're into some murky water here, with Canseco possibly withholding information from the Mitchell investigation. I just don't know if Canseco is canny enough to keep enough in his hip pocket just in order to write another book. Then again, he may have consul that is bright enough.
We've heard Canseco claim A-Rod is on PED's, and nothing more has been heard of that since his denials on "60 Minutes." It leaves me to wonder if Canseco is grasping at straws in order to have enough ammo for another book.

At The Detroit Tigers Weblog, Billfer brings up a very pertinent point, "If Ordonez wanted this to just go away why report it at all?"

We also know that Ordonez took his claim of extortion to the FBI. In fact that’s the only part of this whole story that is confirmed. And me thinks that going to the feds isn’t something that is done on a whim. It’s also likely to be the only part that will be confirmed. Canseco will continue to make his allegations regardless and he got himself some more publicity - which is really what it’s all about. Canseco will also deny the contact with Ordonez, but the fact that Ordonez went to the authorities tends to make me want to believe Maggs a little more than the guy who is pimping a book. The fact that Ordonez isn’t pressing charges may raise some eyebrows in that he doesn’t want what the FBI finds to become public knowledge. At the same time he just may not want the distraction of a federal investigation either. By the same token, if Ordonez wanted this to just go away why report it at all?

It bears repeating, you don't get the Feds involved unless you you seriously believe there's some sort of threat. Why else would Ordonez report the "extortion" attempt? Once he did so, he knew it would go public sooner or later. Guilty people don't go to the authorities.

A woman scorned is a force to be reckoned with, and Sam unloads both barrels of her scorn for Canseco at Roar of the Tigers.

Telling Magglio that his name will be linked to steroids if he doesn’t do Canseco’s evil bidding is, in the world of baseball today, definitely a threat: it’s a straight-up threat to Magglio’s good name and thus to his career and livelihood.

So hey! Jose Canseco! Throw up the names of my players alongside steroids if you think it’ll keep you above the poverty line a little longer. Go ahead. It’s happened to practically every other team out there.

But seriously, sinking to extortion? Way to reach all new levels of sleaze-baggery, you enormous irritated ferret rectum.

I would have used douche-baggery and ferret asshole, but Sam's much nicer and more polite than yours truly will ever be. But the point is made, Canseco is sleazy. He's all about Jose, and no one else. As I said, he's not motivated by a sense of duty, a sense of right or wrong, Canseco just wants to get paid.

It's time that baseball eradicated PED's once and for all, and Canseco deserves credit for bringing MLB's PED problems to the fore. But he's no hero, as steroids just happened to be the dirt that would allow him to make big money, and keep his name in lights. And that's ALL Canseco cares about, not the good of the game.

That's "Above the Fold" for Thursday, 1-24-08!

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