There were no officials from Major League Baseball at Borders in downtown Boston yesterday waiting for Jose Canseco.
Just nearly 150 people, clutching red hardcover copies of Canseco's latest steroid tome, "Vindicated," already at 30 percent off, as the former Red Sox slugger and admitted steroid user sat calmly in the Travel section and autographed books.
That was in marked contrast to the day before, when MLB investigators approached Canseco for information on the steroid scandal that has plagued baseball since the 1990s, the first time baseball officials have asked Canseco for his assistance in the investigations.
"Very strange, very awkward," he said yesterday of his meeting with investigators at a Barnes & Noble Wednesday in Manhattan. "I'm thinking, 'It's about time.' I mean, what do you have to do? The Mitchell Report came out, all these players being mentioned in this report, not one time did [George] Mitchell call me, or any of his individuals say, 'Jose, do you have any information on any of these guys we're reporting on?'
"Not even that the nail in the coffin would be they bring up Roger Clemens and mention him in this report. Never did they ask me, 'Jose, did you have any direct information about Roger Clemens, because you were mentioned with him and Brian McNamee?' So, to me, the thing was extremely strange, extremely awkward. All of a sudden Bud Selig's people come to me, say, 'You know what, Jose, we need you to help us fix this problem.' Isn't it a bit too late, guys?"
Canseco is still willing to help. Once his book tour, which is scheduled to run through next week, is finished, he and his attorney, Robert Saunooke, will meet with MLB officials. Saunooke accompanied Canseco to the book signing in Boston, along with Canseco's girlfriend/publicist, Heidi Northcott. Canseco again alleged that about 80 percent of baseball players were using steroids when he was in the majors, from 1985-2001, though he thinks the percentage is very small now.
"It's gratifying," Canseco said about being approached. "Finally, people are just getting it. They're finally saying, 'Maybe what Jose's saying is the absolute truth.' I mean, you've got polygraphs in the second book, 'Vindicated,' and, obviously, I passed them all. You've got the players in the first book, you've got the players in the second book, you've got the whole event, the whole scenario. I think people are finally getting it: What he was saying in both books is the absolute truth."
In Canseco's first book, "Juiced," many of the allegations were corroborated when the Mitchell Report was released in December.
"I've been totally willing to cooperate with them since Day 1," he said. "They, from Day 1, have blackballed me. They've ousted me from the game, they've turned me into a pariah, they've turned me into a scapegoat. Now, all of a sudden, they want to deal with me? Isn't that strange?"
Yesterday Canseco lashed out at two of his favorite whipping boys, Curt Schilling and Alex Rodriguez. Canseco called Schilling "the strangest man I've ever seen in my life," and "another one of the liars that I had to deal with. He was bought and paid by Major League Baseball," a reference to Schilling's testimony before Congress in 2005. Canseco said Rodriguez got a "$500 million free ride."
In between expressing feelings of surprise and vindication, Canseco offered one last quip, something that should be music to the ears of one former member of the Red Sox.
"I'd be more than happy if I could find it," said Canseco of giving his 1988 MVP Award to runner-up Mike Greenwell. "I think I threw it in the garbage somewhere. He's going to have to look in the dumps of - where did I dump it? - in LA somewhere."
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com.