Sunday, February 20, 2011

Familiar Faces / Strange Places: Jose Canseco / Expos

Once considered the prototype of the modern day major league star, Jose Canseco burst upon the baseball scene as the American Rookie of the Year in 1986. Two years later (1988) he won the American League MVP and became the first player ever to record 40 home runs and 40 steals in one season. His Oakland Athletics team won three straight AL pennants and the 1989 World Series... but then it seemed wheels came off the tracks.

In August of 1992 he was traded to the Rangers. The next season he was allowed to pitch in a meaningless blow out loss to the Red Sox and injured his elbow, requiring Tommy John surgery. After a stop in Boston and a failed return trip to Oakland, he had a very productive season in 1998 with 46 HRs and 29 steals in Toronto. His accomplishments were lost in the HR derby media circus surrounding former teammate Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa that season. He next went to Tampa (where he made an all star appearance) and the New York Yankees (Where he got a second ring). By 2001 he was basically done when he was cut by the Angels in spring training and ended up playing half of a season for the White Sox. The next spring he was wearing an Expos uniform, but failed to make the club when the season began.

His 462 career home runs rank him 32nd on the all-time list. Instead of being a baseball legend and hall of famer -- Canseco turned out to be the "canary in the coal mine" for the steroid era of major league baseball.


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