King Kaufman's Sports Daily

Jose Canseco is an attention whore, but that doesn't have to mean his steroid accusations are all lies. Plus: The Go Daddy Girl and the rest of the Super Bowl ad crop.

By Salon Staff
Published February 9, 2005 8:00PM (EST)

Jose Canseco has pushed back the release date of his new book so he can write a chapter about the Go Daddy Girl. He claims she's juiced, and also that he never slept with her.

Actually, Regan Books moved up the release date by a week to Valentine's Day after the New York Daily News ran a report Sunday that detailed some of the more colorful revelations in Canseco's tome, which is called "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight," or something like that.

Too bad for Canseco. He could have used a little publicity for his book but all anybody wants to talk about is the Go Daddy Girl.

Even Canseco's confession that he made out with Madonna but never slept with her seems like small potatoes compared to the confusing, mildly amusing Super Bowl commercial that got the NFL bluenoses in a snit because of a broken spaghetti strap and some cleavage. Poor Jose. First he was overshadowed by Mark McGwire, and now by an obscure cheesecake model and "WWE Diva" named Candice Michelle.

Among Canseco's literary doozies, according to the Daily News: He injected McGwire's keister with steroids during their "Bash Brothers" days in Oakland, and he watched McGwire and Jason Giambi inject each other during a later stint with the A's. The Daily News reported that Canseco takes credit for introducing steroids to baseball, and that he taught Ivan Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez about them after he was traded to the Rangers.

Rodriguez, Palmeiro and Gonzalez have issued denials. McGwire released a statement saying he'd wait to review the book before commenting, which is a fascinatingly measured response even from a media recluse.

Even more eyebrow-raising -- and publicity-generating -- is Canseco's reported charge that President Bush, who was a part owner of the Rangers when Canseco played for Texas, must have known about the rampant steroid abuse on the team. White House spokesman Ken Lisaius didn't comment directly on the charge, but he noted that Bush called on baseball to get rid of steroids in his 2004 State of the Union address and that Bush's "position on steroids has been clear for some time."

Well, if a year is "some time," that's true, but it's not ridiculous to suggest that Bush's "position on steroids" might have evolved between 1992, when he was managing general partner of a baseball team that stood to profit from juiced-up sluggers hitting home runs, to 2004, when he was out of the baseball business and running for reelection as president.

Having said that, I also should say I think it's ridiculous to suggest that Bush must have known what was going on in the Rangers' clubhouse. He'd have had to have been a very savvy owner indeed to know what was going on, and I don't know of anyone who ever thought of him as anything like a savvy owner.

"Juiced" -- the real subtitle is "Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big" -- is embargoed until Monday. I'll read it then so you don't have to. The Daily News reports that it's a love letter to steroids, that Canseco thinks they should be legal and all ballplayers should use them, though they shouldn't abuse them.

Steroids or no, Canseco is one of the great wasted talents of all time, the "Clambake" Elvis of baseball. He's also an attention whore, and he thinks his career spiraled into the toilet because baseball blackballed him, not because he refused to work on his game once he became a star.

But I found Dave Stewart's comments about the revelation interesting. Stewart, the A's ace during Canseco's great early years in Oakland, told's Albert Chen, "I don't know Jose to be a liar, that's not one thing I'd call him."

Stewart made it clear he didn't like the idea of Canseco's book, which breaks the ballplayer's code that what happens in the clubhouse and on the road stays there. Stewart also said that while he didn't like Canseco as a teammate because of his lackadaisical approach to the game, he did like the slugger off the field. "He had an 'I don't give a damn' attitude. But that doesn't mean I can call him a liar. What he's saying, I can't deny it or verify it," Stewart said.

Probably no one can. "Juiced" appears to be a series of difficult-to-refute allegations. Canseco allegedly shooting up McGwire is a he said-he said kind of deal, for example. We may never know how much of what Canseco says is true and how much is just his latest desperate attempt to remain relevant and rich. And in the end "Juiced," filled with truth or lies, might end up telling us more about its author than about the game it purports to expose.

But Canseco was a major figure in baseball a decade and a half ago, and he's a central figure in the sad history of steroid abuse in the game. Whatever he has to say, it's worth taking a look, which we'll do next week.

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Those weak Super Bowl commercials [PERMALINK]

Salon has already run its official review of the Super Bowl ads, but I had to sit through them in case one of them became a national hot button, so gosh darnit, I'm going to tell you what I thought of them.

As you know, one of the spots did become a national hot button, and I have to say, we as a nation really have to get our act together on this hot button thing, because this is a pretty weak affair.

The Go Daddy ad featured Candice Michelle, a fitness model and actress, playing the part of Nikki Cappelli, presumably a fitness model and actress, testifying before a "censorship committee." The spaghetti strap of her tank top breaks as she talks about doing a commercial for the Web site, and the old men on the panel have conniptions.

The commercial ran midway through the first quarter and was supposed to appear again in the second half, but NFL suits grumbled to Fox that it was out of step with the toned-down tenor of this year's ad crop, and Fox pulled it. Go Daddy CEO Bob Parsons, who has a blog linked on the site, was furious and has said he might sue Fox.

Parsons has said that the spot was intended as a parody of the reaction to Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction last year. Well, it was a dumb parody. It was also kind of a weak commercial. When it aired, before it became this week's version of Nicollette Sheridan's towel, I wrote this in my notes: "I like a curvy brunette in an overmatched top as much as the next fellow, but what was that all about?"

And by the way, all those press reports that the Go Daddy Girl was supposed to be testifying before a congressional committee are wrong. Parsons writes that the committee is supposed to be made up of network censors.

What's funny about the silly blue-nose reaction to the Go Daddy spot is that it wasn't the sexiest or most salacious ad of the day. That honor goes to a commercial for Tabasco hot sauce.

In that one, we ogle a young thing in a white bikini with Tabasco logos all over it as she sunbathes, slinks up the beach into a house, mixes some Tabasco into some dipping sauce with a shrimp, then checks herself out in a mirror. As she gives the camera what I can't think of a better term for than a come-hither look, she pulls the top aside just enough for us to see that her skin is burned only where the material had been.

Cute twist. I don't know if it was $2.4 million worth of cute, but it wasn't my money, and the point is it was a lot more R-rated than the goofy Go Daddy spot.

But I don't think I will ever understand the calculus of what gets culture warriors' noses out of joint and what doesn't.

As for the rest of the ads, I agree with Matt Taibbi, who reviewed them for Salon Monday, that it was a pretty weak crop. It's more fun when the ad people really stretch, really get creative, and make crazily awful ads than it is when they play it safe and make boringly awful ones.

But I liked a few.

I think my favorite spot was a house ad: Fox's "24" promo in which that Fox announcer voice guy -- was that really him? -- walks around a supermarket doing his dramatic promo voice, talking about Jack Bauer to uncomfortable-looking shoppers.

Some other decent ones:

  • A DirecTV ad was the only jaw-dropping technical achievement. A guy walks from room to room in a house set, morphing as he goes from little boy watching "I Love Lucy" to grandfather watching the tube with another little boy. Kind of a "Cats in the Cradle" deal, and just as depressing. Did this guy just spend his whole life watching TV?
  • P. Diddy, who as a performer has all the charisma of a medium-sized grapefruit, was the star of a Diet Pepsi spot that made me chuckle. Driving himself through the desert in his tux on the way to an awards show -- sure, could happen -- he breaks down and gets a ride from a friendly Diet Pepsi truckdriver. Diet Pepsi trucks thus become the new pimp ride.
  • The other mildly amusing spots:

  • Fed Ex/Kinko's: The 10 elements of a successful Super Bowl commercial. Kind of obvious humor, but it made me smile.
  • Bud Light: Anheuser-Busch, which usually bats at least .500 on Super Bowl Sunday, had a rough evening, but the camera-phone "and that's your girlfriend!" spot was OK.
  • Ameriquest: Two ads with the tag line "Don't judge too quickly. I found the first, about an apparent convenience store robbery, unfunny and disturbingly violent, but the second, about a woman who mistakenly thinks she's walked in on her boyfriend slaughtering her cat, clever and well-done. If you didn't see it, it was abundantly clear that the guy wasn't hurting the cat.
  • Well, enough of that. Here are the ones I didn't like.

  • Ford trucks: "We don't just make our trucks tough. We make you tough." Last year it was a commercial for a razor that looked like a parody. This year it was the spot that featured the nasty-looking bikers afraid to go into a Ford truck bar. That tag line wouldn't have been funny as a parody. As the real thing, it was uproarious.
  • McDonald's Lincoln fry series. The first one was annoying. When I realized it was a series, I started looking for my TV-shootin' pistol.
  • The Cadillac backing into the tunnel ad. Not that I care, but: Huh?
  • The Olympus N-Robe spot had some nice special effects on the dancing people, but it didn't do much to get its message across. "It's a camera. It's a music player." OK, but why do I need a camera that plays music, or vice versa? Reminded me of that old "Saturday Night Live" commercial parody: "Wait, you two. It's a floor wax and a dessert topping!"

  • An ad that had various sports celebrities saying "I am Diana Pearl." I don't know who Diana Pearl is or what that means and I don't care.
  • NFL Networks "Tomorrow." The first time the NFL did this ad, in which players and coaches on teams not in the Super Bowl sing the insipidly hopeful song, it was genuinely funny. But you know, re-doing it every year with different guys plugged in? Not funny.
  • Previous column: Super predictions: The aftermath

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