When I look back into the depths of my memory there are few teams that I associate with dominance. The few that come to mind are the 90’s Bulls, the 80’s Edmonton Oilers, the late 90’s Yankees, the early 90’s Cowboys, and the 1988-1991 Oakland A’s. The funny thing is with hindsight being 20/20, one of these things is not like the others. That being the Oakland A’s. I mean they only won a single championship (1989). Outside of the pitching, Ricky Henderson, and the two power hitters in the middle of their lineup, none of the numbers were that outrageous. Still they just seemed like this juggernaut to my 7 year old self. Maybe it was the consistent impersonating of the bash brothers in backyard ball games. It could be that Dave Stewart was the first pitcher I hated and feared. Maybe it was Ricky Henderson’s mix of power and speed, or Dennis Eckersley’s shutdown stuff at the end of games. Whatever it was it looms large in my memory. More than anything it’s probably the legend of Jose Canseco. Before Jose was a C list celeb, steroid snitch, and a certified internet age laughing-stock he was a monster of a ball player, literally. Just look up his 1988 MVP numbers. He was a powerhouse, hitting measuring tape homers, swiping bases, and slaughtering tail. This guy was boinking Madonna when that still meant something. Now don’t get me wrong his brother in bash Mark McGwire was no slouch either, but being McGwire in our backyard games was like being Robin to Batman. Canseco was just as polarizing then as he is now. The difference is now you either despise him or laugh at him. Back then you either idolized him or despised him. At one point I think he may have been a bigger deal than Michael Jordan. Granted it was pre-championship Jordan, but you get my point. The list of Awesome Athletes with posters on kids walls in my neighborhood consisted of Canseco, Bo Jackson, Jordan, and that’s it. Well maybe a couple of Roger Clemens posters too but he was outside the big three. What I’m getting at was Jose was a big deal. Unfortunately for Jose steroids don’t make for staying power and he was always enough of an idiot that his star faded quickly. After getting traded to Texas he bounced around for another decade playing for a handful of teams before being blackballed from baseball. We here at The Dirty Turban raise a cold one to you Jose Canseco and all members of the 1988-1991 Oakland A’s. May you forever be a dynasty in the recesses of my memory.
Contributing Writer: Ralph Lifshitz