Three years ago, the only way you figured Jose Canseco would wind up on "60 Minutes" was in a cautionary tale about steroid casualties.
The only way you could have imagined Mike Wallace interviewing him was if "Mike Wallace" happened to be the name of a district attorney.
About three years ago, Jose Canseco seemed to be begging for his final 15 minutes, not "60." Just 15 more minutes of fading fame. Canseco had written a book, or at least part of one, and it was being shopped so unsuccessfully hard that you envisioned Canseco going door to door saying, "Hi, I used to be Jose Canseco. Would you publish my book?"
You also envisioned people threatening to call the police if he didn't leave their front porch.
I came across an excerpt of the book that was floating around back then. I glanced at it and rolled my eyes. At that point, Canseco was viewed as a washed-up steroid freak whose brain had turned to mutant muscle.
His credibility was lower than an American League pitcher's home-run total.
But there he was on Sunday night, the lead story on CBS's most important show. He was allowed to talk about injecting steroids with and into baseball's beloved Paul Bunyan, Mark McGwire. He was allowed to talk about teaching several of his famed Texas Rangers teammates -- Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez -- how to use steroids (and injecting them, too).
He was allowed to use Jason Giambi in the title of one of his book's chapters: "The Most Obvious Juicer in the Game."
Of course, all these players have denied ever using steroids (Giambi has issued public denials, though his reported grand-jury testimony indicates otherwise). But none of them, said Mike Wallace, would let "60 Minutes" interview them on camera.
This makes me suspicious because -- and I can't believe I'm writing this -- Jose Canseco came across quite convincingly. You got the feeling that if any of the players he has exposed -- or ratted out -- had been sitting there with Canseco and Wallace, their denials would have registered higher on viewers' lie detectors than Canseco's matter-of-fact allegations.
I'm starting to get the feeling that Canseco's book, "Juiced," will be remembered the way Jim Bouton's "Ball Four" was. It just might open a window into our national pastime through which only a few media members have peeked.
So how in the name of Abner Doubleday did Canseco a.) get "Juiced" published; b.) land the lead slot on "60 Minutes;" and c.) have the sports world waiting for the book to hit the market Monday like one of Canseco's 600-foot homers?
The most significant breakthrough in public awareness of steroid use in baseball came when the BALCO grand jury testimony was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle. Suddenly, baseball fans could read the sworn testimony of Giambi and Barry Bonds. Giambi told the grand jury that he purchased illegal steroids and used them. Bonds told the grand jury that his childhood friend and trainer, Greg Anderson, duped him into using the designer steroid THG, which can be taken by mouth.