OAKLAND, Calif. — When you're on the road and you're lonely, you call a friend, right? But what if you get bored talking to your friend, because he's not rich and famous and a big baseball star with a lot of neat sports cars you might someday get to ride in?
Easy. You call Jose Canseco. He's got his own phone line that dispenses recorded information about the superstar.
Maybe it was the jet lag or the three-hour time change, but for some reason, I woke up Tuesday morning before Game 1 of the American League playoffs with an overwhelming desire to talk to Jose. Probably because we have so much in common. Brown hair. Brown eyes. Speak a little Spanish. Have played baseball. Get our picture in the paper. Plus hundreds of other intimate details there isn't room to go into here.
Unlike Jose, I've never been arrested, but hey, if the cops clamored for my autograph like they do his, I might get arrested on purpose, just to make their day.
Wanna make Jose's? Give him a call.
"Hi, I'm Jose Canseco and thank you for calling my hotline."
Voice: "Press 1 on your touch-tone phone to hear Jose talk about yesterday's game, and about his personal life. To hear Jose discuss the topics of steroids, his ownership of guns or about speeding, press 2. If you'd like to leave a message or a question for Jose Canseco, which may be answered right here on the hotline at a later date, press 7. If you don't have a touch-tone phone, stay on the line and you will hear a specially prepared program, just for you. Make your selection now."
I pressed 1. For seven minutes, Jose talked about what his Monday had been like. It made me feel better about mine.
Jose said there had been no game. He said the A's were getting ready to play the uh, (long pause) Toronto Blue Jays.
Jose said that the A's had had a 3 o'clock or 3:30 p.m. workout. He said that he got there at 2:30 or 3.
"Just hanging around the ballpark, talked to the guys. We decided how we were going to divide the shares (postseason money). We had to get that out of the way. Everyone made out pretty good. Everything (at practice) was normal, except there were 60 or 70 people from the media. It was like a circus attraction."
Jose said he went out to shag fly balls. When he loosened up, his legs didn't feel as sore as usual.
At batting practice, Jose said, he hit in the last group, with Dave Parker, and organized a home-run hitting contest. Jose hit first, but he hit only two of 10 pitches out of the park.
"I tried to use some psychology (on Parker), always telling him, 'Oh, you couldn't hit two out.' Try to make him nervous. And I won the contest, because he hit only one home run. Between pitches, as the ball was in flight, I'd scream at him, try to throw his concentration off."
Jose said that the A's met to discuss Dave Stieb, the Blue Jays' Game 1 starting pitcher, then met the media.
"Some of them will ask some strange questions. Some will ask interesting questions. These are things you have to go through. In a ballplayer's life, you have to give the media the time."
Jose's hotline is Canseco's attempt to get equal time. Canseco says he and his agents -- he has four -- came up with the hotline idea to balance what they feel is negative reporting about the 25-year-old superstar, who has been pulled over by police seven times in the last 15 months and was arrested last year for carrying an unregistered handgun.
Hot, Jose's hotline isn't. Canseco records a new message every night, but the messages are rambling, amateurish and, to tell the truth, boring. If your other friends sounded this interesting on the phone, you'd get it disconnected.
It wasn't game time yet and I wanted to hear what else Jose had to say. Knowing I could put the charges on my expense account, I called Jose back and pressed 2 to hear him discuss steroids, speeding and handguns.
For six minutes, he rambled. His stories weren't nearly as spicy as stories involving steroids, speeding and handguns should be.
Don't believe it? Reach out and touch someone. Call Jose.
But don't call collect.