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Tuesday, February 8, 2005
Can you believe The Chemist?

By Tim Keown
Page 2

Now here's the coolest trick of all: Jose Canseco can write a book and two weeks before its publication have White House spokesmen issuing rapid-fire denials about what the President knew and when he knew it.

You've got to give it up to the man for that.

Jose Canseco
Jose Canseco -- looking very literary.
Canseco has gone from potential participant in some fallen-celebrity reality show to the A-list -- or maybe High B -- over the course of one edition of the New York Daily News. It's enough to make you think Terrell Owens had the second-best comeback of the weekend.

It's good to see Jose bring baseball back to the headlines, especially when football was threatening to get most of the sporting world's attention over the weekend.

HarperCollins, the parent company of Regan Books, which is publishing Canseco's tome, says in promotional material that Canseco was known as "The Chemist" in baseball circles during his career. And to think, everybody says baseball doesn't have any good nicknames anymore.

It just so happens that old "Death to Flying Things" is now "Two Needles, One Stall."

We aren't allowed access to the world where Canseco could walk through the clubhouse and guys would look up from their lockers, nod and nonchalantly say "Chemist" as a salutation.

It makes you wonder how many other good nicknames we're missing out on. There could be a whole underground of good nicknames. Of course, if it had become public knowledge that Canseco was dubbed "The Chemist," baseball people and the media probably would have managed to contort its meaning to suggest Jose was known for using his all-inclusive personality to enhance clubhouse chemistry. That's about as honest as we've all been about the steroid epidemic.

This is a recurring theme, but it's not easy to pick sides in any of this. Is Canseco a liar, a ratfink, or is he the bravest literary provocateur since Rachel Carson?

It's hard to be both a liar and a ratfink, but Tony La Russa apparently thinks Canseco has managed both. And I believe La Russa when he says he has no evidence suggesting McGwire used steroids. You think those guys included him in the two-men-to-a-stall inject-a-thons Canseco claims took place?

"Hey, Skip, check out this needle" -- nah, probably didn't happen. Why do you think they did their business in a stall in the first place?

This Week's List
  • It's the kind of statistic that makes you wonder what you're supposed to think when you're finished reading it: Andy Reid owns the second-highest winning percentage of any coach in the history of the NFL who has not won the Super Bowl.

  • One thing that statistic might lead you to believe but shouldn't: Andy Reid is a good coach who can't win a big game.

  • However, there's one question that will never, ever be answered to anybody's satisfaction: How can you walk to the line of scrimmage and huddle up with three minutes left in a Super Bowl when you need two scores?

  • OK, one more question: How can everybody watching -- Philly fans, New England fans, broadcasters, writers, the chain gang, cheerleaders and corporate drunks -- all see the same thing, and the guys who are paid to see it don't?

  • Up till Sunday, the two most boring words in sports: Clock management.

  • Best old-fashioned drop step since Bill Russell: Utah's Andrew Bogut, odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.

  • Just for the heck of it: Lasalle Thompson.

  • Excuse me, oh advertising potentates, but that must be some awfully good crack you've got there: A rugby game with Gladys Knight taking it in for the try?

  • Here's the easiest prediction to make in the aftermath of the Super Bowl: The Patriots' dynasty (now that we've all agreed on that) will end next season.

  • OK, OK, you're The Man: Terrell Owens.

  • It's clear there's one thing the American public does not want to hear about when it comes to their sports: Cheating.

  • Wow, this sounds serious till you realize you could have done without both the information and the image: An Associated Press story Monday began, "Barry Bonds suffered a minor complication from knee surgery over the weekend when one of the sutures from his recent arthroscopic procedure leaked and had to be re-sutured."

  • And finally, now for "Movie Minute": It's not even out yet, and I feel like I've already seen "Hitch" three times.

    Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.