The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Clueless Jose

I have but a few simple rules in life. One is never to be arrested while wearing adult diapers. Another is never to write a book where I'll be forced to defend charges of casual racism and homophobia on a media tour. So on the latter note, it's been several months since I got my snark on at Deadspin. A tip from Alex Belth sent me there yesterday to read Pat Jordan's hilarious trainwreck of an attempt to profile Jose Canseco on the eve of his forthcoming book, Vindicated. Jordan captures the clueless Canseco prattling around his empty life:
I tried to picture Jose writing his book and his movie. Hunched over, his broad shoulders casting a shadow across his desk like a raptor's wings, his brow furrowed in concentration, his massively muscled body tensed in anticipation of that torrent of words about to flow out of him like urine for one of the many steroid tests he'd been forced to take during his baseball career. I wondered, just how does Jose write? Like Shakespeare, with a quill pen on parchment? Like Dickens, wearing a green eye shade while seated at a clerk's desk? Like Hemingway, standing at a lectern in Finca Vigia, with a stubby pencil and unlined paper? Like Thomas Wolfe, in his Victorian house in Ashville, pounding away on a tall, black, manual Underwood? Or maybe the words flow out of Jose in such a torrent, 10,000 an hour, that he can relieve himself adequately of his thoughts only by tap-tap-tapping on a lightning fast computer, like Stephen King?

Anyway, as Heidi said, Jose is writing a book, and a movie, about his life, which he will star in, as himself. Jose is also going to star in a Kung Fu martial arts movie. That's what Rob told me. "Jose is fielding offers," said Rob. Rob is Jose's lawyer and agent. He's a Cherokee Indian from North Carolina. In the four years that Rob has been Jose's agent, Jose has racked up about a half-a-million dollars in legal fees. Rob hasn't been paid anything yet, although he said that Jose did give him his five World Series rings, worth about $50,000, as a down payment.

Heidi, Rob told me, is Jose's girlfriend/publicist. She's a "cute, little, junior college graduate, who lives with Jose," said Rob. "She likes to let Jose think she's working hard for him when really all she is doing is fucking things up for him." Rob said Heidi lives with Jose without paying anything, which may be literally true, but not figuratively. The price women pay for living with Jose is actually quite high. All those boring days and nights during which Jose rarely speaks, except to say, "Where's the Iguana?" because of Jose's fervent belief that when "women talk only bad things can happen."

...After a little prodding, Rob did admit to me that as of the moment no actual offers for that Kung Fu movie have come Jose's way, which, considering his fielding prowess (he once camped under a fly ball which hit him in the head and bounced into the bleachers for a home run), might be a good thing. Still, Jose spends his days at his house in Sherman Oaks, California, off the Ventura Freeway near the San Fernando Valley, home of the porn industry, waiting for producers to call to inform him that the time is ripe, America is now hungry for a Kung Fu movie starring a steroid-inflated, Cuban, ex-baseball player in his forties. In anticipation of that call, Jose showed off his martial arts moves to the man who choreographed "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." The man watched Jose's 250-pound body spin and kick and leap into the air for a few minutes and then he told Jose that his moves "were stiff, not very fluid, and you don't kick very well." Jose told Rob, "That guy doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about."
Rules for living number three and four: don't hire a lawyer who will discuss my financial affairs with a reporter, and keep those martial arts movie ideas under wraps.

Whether or not you're tempted to put any stock in Canseco's desperate attempt to grab headlines by trying to extort the likes of Alex Rodriguez and Magglio OrdoƱez, or if you're simply up for a bit of schadenfreude, Jordan's piece is well worth your time. The man has a hard-boiled style, a deadpan sense of humor and a knack for catching those second acts of athletes for whom the cheering has stopped, not all of them as tawdry as that of Canseco. One of the best -- a piece I blogged an eternity ago -- is his New York Times Magazine profile of Rick Ankiel, told like a ghost story from beyond the grave by a haunted soul who went through a similar, career-ending bout of wildness 40 years earlier. Jordan devoted an unflinching book to his own demise, A False Spring and even wrote about his own second act in A Nice Tuesday.

Belth recently linked to Jordan's Fortune profile of the unlikely jock-to-stock savant story of Lenny Dykstra and offered some choice outtakes form the original manuscript (Nails, incidentally is everywhere this month via an HBO Real Sports segment, a Ben McGrath New Yorker profile, and a New York Times profile of his son Cutter, a touted high school prospect whom Alan Schwarz presents as a possible first-rounder this June).

And if that's not enough Jordan, you can look forward to the upcoming release of The Best Sports Writing of Pat Jordan, an anthology of the pugnacious freelancer's work edited by Belth, now slated for a mid-April release from Persea Books. I'm itching to get my hands on a copy.


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