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Want to talk to Jose Canseco? Prepare to pony up for ‘charity’

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

The e-mail’s tagline was, ‘‘I am Jose Canseco’s manager.’’

I’m always curious about the former American League Rookie of the Year, AL MVP, World Series champ, comeback player of the year, Silver Slugger winner, ­hitter of 462 career home runs, scam artist and baseball’s self-­proclaimed ‘‘Godfather of steroids.’’ So I opened the e-mail:

‘‘Hello, I noticed that you wrote a piece today about Bonds and Canseco,’’ it read. ‘‘I represent Canseco and wanted to reach out to you to see if you wanted to interview him about Bonds, steroids, boxing fiasco, etc.

Ryan Sacks

VP Business Development

9454 Wilshire Blvd Ste# 525

Beverly Hills, CA 90212’’

Shoot, yes! Fun!

How could I not want to talk to Canseco, the man who wrote the tell-all book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ’Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big’’?

Maybe the 6-4, broad-shouldered guy I sat two rows behind when he testified about doping in baseball on Capitol Hill six years ago was way-washed up. Maybe fighting 5-4 former child actor Danny Bonaduce (a draw) and getting knocked senseless in the first round by former NFL player Vai Sikaheima (all of 5-9) kind of points that out.

But Canseco had done just enough in his baseball career, been right about just enough dopers, that .  .  . what the heck?

When I had used his name the other day in a column, it was only to ridicule him for sending his twin brother Ozzie to fight as him against some palooka at a Florida nightclub.


There was a business phone number underneath, and as I dialed, I recalled that Canseco claimed to have once run a 3.9 in the 40, to have shot up about half the players in the league, to have been set up by MLB when he failed a 2003 drug test, to have been driving carelessly when he rammed his ex-wife’s car.

No one answered, so I left a voicemail on the business line. Then I sent a text to manager Sacks’ cell phone: ‘‘Ryan — can Jose do an interview Wed afternoon for my column? Please let me know ASAP. Thanks much — Rick Telander, Sports Columnist, Chicago Sun-Times.’’

Sacks texted a response: ‘‘Call him at [an L.A.-based number] — this is a number he can be reached at that raises money for charity. He will be available when u need him.’’

RT: Will he be there at 5 Eastern, 4 Central? If so, great. I’ll call from home office. —Rick

RS: I don’t think you understand — talking to Canseco charges a rate per minute that goes to charity. I would urge you to call ahead of time to set up an account. Once set up you get connected to his cell phone directly. This is how myfanline works.

RT: How much per minute?

RS: 50

RT: 50 dollars or cents?

RS: Dollars.

RT: (Note: Occasionally I’ve wanted to use the ROTFL symbol — ‘‘Roll On The Floor Laughing’’ —on my phone, but it just seemed too overstated and junior high. Not this time.)

RS: It’s for charity. It’s a story in itself.

RT: What charity?

RS: The same one for celebrity apprentice. BAT baseball assistance team.

RT: What’s Jose’s cut? I think it’s fair to know.

RS: You’re a great reporter. The maximum he can take is 10 percent of total revenue as per myfanline guidelines.

RT: OK, I don’t know how great a reporter I am, but I personally might be willing to spend, hmm, well, something on a charity, if Jose speaks fast.

RT: (Note to readers: I quickly sent another text) Kind of like extortion, though.

RS: If spending money on a charity to get an exclusive that will help your column is extortion .  .  . I dunno about that. But let me know if you want him at 2.

(Who said anything about 2?)

RT: This is not how we do business, but is he there at 3 Central?

RS: Yes.

(Note: some minutes went by as I thought about this)

RT: OK. Get his mouth motorized.

RS: I will tell him you don’t have much time.

I decided I would pay for this project myself. It’s not something a newspaper front office should do. You start paying for news, you’re asking for trouble. But a little charity? I looked up BAT. Seemed legit.

So, three minutes, I decided. No more. In, out. It was $150 total — $135 to charity, fifteen bucks to Jose. Enough money for him to buy hair gel.

I wrote down my questions. Six. Thirty seconds or less for each answer. I waited until 3, dialed the number, gave my credit card, got a password.

Away we go.

Coming Friday: Canseco answers. The clock is on.

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