MESA, Ariz. — Through all of the controversy and sensational headlines that have marked his baseball career and beyond, one constant has stood firm in regard to Jose Canseco:
The man speaks exactly what’s on his mind.
That will serve A’s fans well as Canseco joins NBC Sports California as an on-air analyst for A’s Pregame Live and A’s Postgame Live. He’s part of a revamped lineup of former Athletics who will provide their expert insights and opinions throughout the 2017 season.
“I’ve got quite a bit of experience. I’ve pretty much been there, done all of that whether it’s on or off the field,” Canseco said. “I think the fans can expect the truth — an honest opinion, honest analysis — and hopefully in some shape or form we expand the fan base.”
The 1988 American League MVP and first player ever to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in the same season, Canseco’s baseball resume speaks for itself. For so many fans who grew up with a “Bash Brothers” poster on their wall, he was the defining presence of three consecutive pennant-winning A’s teams from 1988-90.
Those teams dominated with an ensemble cast of contributors. But in a time period when the Bay Area produced some of the biggest superstars across the national sports landscape, no one’s profile stood taller than Canseco’s.
“I pulled his rookie baseball card out of packs, watched him play countless games in person at the Coliseum,” said Brodie Brazil, host for A’s Pregame and Postgame Live. “It still hasn't sunk in that we've added one of the Bash Brothers to our core of analysts. The kid and adult in me are both pretty stoked.”
Canseco retired after 17 big league seasons and 462 home runs, which ranked 22nd on the all-time list when he hung up his spikes. After his playing career, he wrote the controversial tell-all book “Juiced”, which blew open just how widespread steroid use was in the major leagues.
Canseco received a hefty amount of criticism upon the book’s release. But as the years have gone by and it’s become apparent just how many players were using performance-enhancing drugs, Canseco has proven to be much more credible with the claims he made.
“It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” he said of writing “Juiced.” “It made the game better because it made the game look at what was going on internally. On the other end, because I wrote the book and went up against Major League Baseball, I got excommunicated.”
He’s enthused about taking on his first role as an analyst, and he joins NBC Sports California at a time of budding excitement surrounding the A’s and the expectation of them building a new ballpark in Oakland. Canseco, the 1986 AL Rookie of the Year, played for the A’s when they were one of the Bay Area’s hottest sports stories.
He believes a new ballpark would create the needed buzz. And, it’s not surprising that he’s got a unique preference in what he’d like to see built.
“I’m hoping for a dome to be honest with you,” he said. “It can get cold (in Oakland). The ball doesn’t carry. I would push for a dome. I think baseball is so different from other sports. It’s definitely the best sport in the world. The Oakland A’s deserve their own stadium.”
OK, so perhaps a dome isn’t in the forefront of the A’s thoughts. But remember, one fan proposed to team president Dave Kaval the idea of a floating stadium on the Bay, so Kaval has heard wackier suggestions.
Canseco can draw on the experience of having played for seven different big league organizations in providing his analysis.
He was preparing for Game 3 of the 1989 World Series when the Loma Prieta earthquake rocked Candlestick Park. In the 1988 World Series, he was playing right field when Kirk Gibson’s legendary home run went soaring over his head.
He’s traveled a unique road in the game, and he’s willing to speak frankly about the peaks and valleys.
“It’s the first time I’ve gotten the opportunity to do something like this,” Canseco said. “… Maybe fans would like to hear what my thoughts are, how things can be fixed or made better for the Oakland A’s.”