FORT WORTH, Texas – Jose Canseco is a long way from The Show. He's a long way from the glamour and majesty of the bright lights. And, if we're being completely honest, he's a long way from respectability.
In what Canseco's world has become, dinner at Chili's is apparently reason to celebrate.
The 1988 American League MVP is once again in the public consciousness for reasons that venture far beyond good taste and sound judgment, and have little to do with his stint this week as a player/coach for the Fort Worth Cats of the United Baseball League.
On Wednesday, Canseco, who lives in Las Vegas, took to Twitter to break the news that he was being "charged with rape" and took the opportunity to out his accuser, belittle her and demand polygraph tests. Of course, he couldn't even get that right as Las Vegas police later released a statement saying no charges had been filed but that an investigation is ongoing.
At least we can believe Canseco, 48, did in fact dine at Chili's on Wednesday night because the pseudo-Twitter celebrity tweeted photographic evidence of his dinner with Cats manager Jim Essian, who was in Oakland A's spring training with a 19-year-old Canseco in 1984.
But Thursday was all about Canseco's public appearance before the Cats' season opener, and the six-time All-Star pulled no punches when asked about the sexual assault investigation, which reportedly resulted from an alleged incident on May 10.
"I don't have to rape a woman. I think it's ridiculous," Canseco said. "It's almost laughable for an individual to say I raped them and drugged them at the same time. People who know me know I'm a complete opposite. But my close friends, my ex-wives, my ex-girlfriends, will testify on my behalf. … Let's wait for the truth. The truth will always come out."
Asked if he had any regrets about his tweets, which continued Thursday with more polygraph rhetoric and a photo of Canseco with the accuser, Canseco replied: "Absolutely not. You guys are entitled to the truth."
"I think the fans are entitled to the truth," Canseco continued. "I think the police are entitled to the truth. Why hide the truth? If you have nothing to hide, then why hide from it?"
Canseco certainly didn't do that. He said the tweeting was "mostly me," while casting a dramatic eye to adviser Jose Melendez.
"[Social media is] interesting because you can actually have a lot of fun, make jokes, say some serious things and get away with everything," Canseco said.
It's been a long road to LaGrave Field with the Cats, who were playing the Edinburg Roadrunners on Thursday. The Roadrunners, of course, are managed by Canseco's twin brother, Ozzie. Ya gotta love independent league baseball.
Ozzie says that despite all the negative things that surround Jose – the man with 462 home runs during a 17-year big league career with the A's, Rangers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Devil Rays, Yankees and White Sox – he'll always have a special place in baseball history.
"I think he and Mark McGwire were [the greatest homer-hitting teammates of all-time], bar none," Ozzie said of his brother's early days with the A's. "You'll never see that in the history of the game again. Bar none. Period."
The Cats are in many ways the perfect match for Jose Canseco. They have a rich history that has included names such as Rogers Hornsby and Maury Wills as well as current major leaguers Luke Hochevar and Max Scherzer. In recent years the franchise has been saddled with ownership issues and threats of foreclosure, and it filed for bankruptcy protection in 2012.
Canseco, who in 1988 became the first major leaguer to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in a season, was once the game's best player, but has been arrested numerous times, is an admitted steroid user, has had failed political, boxing and MMA careers and filed for bankruptcy protection in August 2012. Some might say he's right where he belongs.
"I will not let [baseball] go," said Canseco, who has had numerous stints with various independent league teams. "I love the game, and as long as I can play the game in any way, shape or form, I'm gonna play. It's that simple."
Canseco last played in the majors at 36 with the White Sox, but says he could have played 10 more years in the bigs if things were different. But then he wouldn't be Jose Canseco. Too much publicity. Too many problems. And that little steroids issue.
"Back then, before I wrote [the tell-all book 'Juiced' in 2005], all they had to say to me was, 'Jose, help us clean up the game,' " Canseco said. "I could've cleaned up the game in three months, by myself, because I am the one who basically educated everybody and became successful using steroids at that point in time.
"I would have gone to every clubhouse and said, 'Guys, it's over. Stop it right now. That's it. We know what we're talking about. It's gotta end.' … But Major League Baseball decided to use me as an example and get me out of the game."
Canseco, who went 1-for 3 Thursday with a single, an intentional walk and two strikeouts, has lost much in his career: a pair of marriages, an estimated $40-plus million earned playing baseball, the support of MLB, and relationships with former teammates throughout his various stops. It shouldn't be surprising that perspective might be among those things.
At least he'll always have Chili's.
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