Whether Jose Canseco is a scandalous provocateur or the lone voice of reason, we have to listen.
Has Canseco passed the truth test yet? He blew open the steroids issue with a tell-all book on the matter, describing himself as Patient Zero for Major League Baseball's steroids era. And he named players, players who have, almost universally, been later revealed as steroid users.
When Canseco named A-Rod, the reaction was virile. Most were convinced Jose was simply lying -- picking top players out of a hat -- in order to maintain his waning relevance. And yet, here we are, full in the knowledge that Canseco was, yes, right: Alex Rodriguez did steroids.
So when Canseco names more players, what are we to think? He's slimy and not above lying about someone to keep his name in the news? But he's been right before. His latest target is Manny Ramirez, who doesn't much "seem" like a 'roider and was not named in the Mitchell Report or any other official list of juicers. So what are we supposed to believe?
Why didn’t Ramirez get a long-term deal? Canseco asks. Why were owners gun-shy about signing arguably the game’s best hitter?
Never mind that Ramirez was asking for a mega-deal at age 36. Or that he was negotiating in a sickly economy, while weighed down by the heavy baggage of a surly reputation. Canseco will have none of it. To Canseco, the drawn-out negotiation, the lack of a long-term deal, the lack of interest all raise red flags, and so he tells the Bovard crowd that Ramirez’s “name is most likely, 90%,” on the  list.
Is it a valid question? Canseco himself admits that he has no proof, and that he's just guessing, which makes him far less sure than when he claimed to have had conversations with A-Rod about 'roids. If we're speculating here, we'll go ahead and argue that Manny wasn't a steroids user, because Manny is basically a child, and not someone with the killer instinct, competitive desire, or flagrant inferiority issues of a guy like Rodriguez.
But we, like Canseco, have no proof. Maybe he's right. He's certainly been right before.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger who really can't imagine Manny using a needle. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.