Wednesday, June 11, 2008

In Defense of Jose Canseco (sorta)

Everybody is joining in the zinger-fest in the wake of Jose Canseco's lawyer suing him for unpaid legal fees, but you know what? I wouldn't pay the sumbitch myself.

Why? Like most everyone else, I was introduced to Canseco's lawyer -- Robert Saunooke -- in Pat Jordan's transcendent "Searching for Canseco" piece on Deadspin back in March. Saunooke -- a guy who, at the time, claimed to be representing Canseco's best interests -- was obviously Jordan's biggest source for the story. Among the many choice quotes and/or pieces of information revealed by Saunooke:

  • In the four years that Rob has been Jose's agent, Jose has racked up about a half-a-million dollars in legal fees. Rob hasn't been paid anything yet, although he said that Jose did give him his five World Series rings, worth about $50,000, as a down payment.

  • Heidi, Rob told me, is Jose's girlfriend/publicist. She's a cute, little, junior college graduate, who lives with Jose," said Rob. "She likes to let Jose think she's working hard for him when really all she is doing is fucking things up for him." Rob said Heidi lives with Jose without paying anything, which may be literally true, but not figuratively.

  • After a little prodding, Rob did admit to me that as of the moment no actual offers for that Kung Fu movie have come Jose's way. In anticipation of that call, Jose showed off his martial arts moves to the man who choreographed "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." The man watched Jose's 250-pound body spin and kick and leap into the air for a few minutes and then he told Jose that his moves "were stiff, not very fluid, and you don't kick very well. . . "

  • Admittedly, Jose's philosophy of life has brought him some success with girls and fancy cars, but it has not, of late, brought him much success with money. Rob said, "Right now, Jose has zero money." In fact, Rob has a lien on one of Jose's two houses, and "Whenever Jose pisses me off, I threaten to foreclose."

  • Rob said that like all men Jose has changed over the years, learning, I presumed, that an unexamined life is not worth living. Rob said, "Yeah, Jose has evolved. But it hasn't been a positive evolution. He's still as opportunistic and self-absorbed as ever. only now, he's even more desperate."
We laugh at Scott Boras for putting together 300 page reports about how awesome his clients are, but that's certainly better than being the primary source for 5,000 word essays about how much they suck. About how bad they are at business. About how their wives and girlfriends are fraudulent gold diggers. About how their bodies have been ravaged by drugs. About how in almost every other aspect of their lives, they are sad, pathetic, and stupid.

Jose's career (pick one) is in the toilet, but to the extent there is any bit of it which hasn't made it to the septic tank yet, it's based on the image, however erroneous, that he's a fast-livin', designer clothes-wearin' ex-athlete who, for better or worse, doesn't have a care in the world. I'd rather be dead than have to play up that angle of my life in order to get on reality shows, but that's his deal. By telling Pat Jordan that Canseco is a broke, petty, and pathetic shell of a human being, Saunooke has effectively foreclosed Canseco's ability to exploit even the exploitation business. "Rock of Love" is probably the worst thing ever created by man or beast, but Canseco probably couldn't even get on that now that he's been revealed by his own lawyer to be a deluded deadbeat.

Obviously Jose Canseco is his own worst enemy, but no one would know that if his lawyer -- a guy duty bound to serve his client's best interests -- hadn't spent hours telling a national journalist writing for one of the world's most trafficked websites all about it. Jordan's piece is going to be the touchstone story about the wretched life of Jose Canseco for years. It wouldn't exist if his lawyer knew the first thing about discretion.

Should Jose Canseco have paid for his services? Maybe. Do I blame him for not paying him? After the Deadspin piece? Hell no.


Ironic Goat said...

Is not disclosing all that illegal? At least, legal fees should be private, right? And does this guy really have no interest in ever having another client?

Craig Calcaterra said...

Not "illegal," as such, but certainly ill-advised and not in his client's best interests. Depending on what was already in the public record already, a lot of that could violate attorney-client privilege and the lawyer's ethical obligations at large. Far less damning utterances have led to attorneys getting disciplined by the state bar and/or sued for malpractice.

Ironic Goat said...

I guess I was thinking malpractice rather than illegal.

Crowhop said...

Is it at least somewhat feasible to consider that Canseco could now get rich suing his own lawyer? Now THAT would be a Hollywood ending.

Daniel said...

I'm not sure about the client-attorney privilege laws or malpractice or anything, but just on its surface, I don't blame the lawyer. Sure, it's probably not great for business (although that may be countered by him getting more publicity), but he also comes across as a straight shooter. I remember being surprised when I read that piece that the lawyer was so forthcoming, but surprised in a refreshing way.

It seems like every time you get a quote from a high profile athlete's lawyer, the quote says essentially nothing. These quotes are actually interesting, however damning they might be (to him or Canseco). And on some level, you have to feel that the lawyer is frustrated beyond belief with his client and found an outlet to vent. Let's not forget that Canseco has done some ridiculously foolish things and this guy's been putting up with it (presumably in the hopes that Canseco will turn it around) for a long time.

Craig Calcaterra said...

I understand the appeal of that Daniel, but the thing about being the guy's lawyer -- and the thing about being a lawyer that I myself chafe at an awful lot -- is that you are not ALLOWED to be a straight shooter. You are paid and are ethically obliged to zealously defend and represent your client's best interests.

While you are prohibited from lying or otherwise acting unethically in doing so, you are likewise prohibited from gratuitiously telling the tough thruths, so to speak, when those tough truths harm your client.

We all have the luxury of being objective about Jose. His lawyer -- and that the time he said that stuff he was still his lawyer -- is obligated to drink the kool aid, or at least appear to be doing so.

Daniel said...

Craig - I see what you're saying. It will be interesting to see if his lawyer sees any repurcussions from this. And the bottom line is that we knew Jose was a womanizing, egotistical train wreck before his lawyer said anything, so I hope that getting all of that off his chest is worth whatever consequences arise because of it.

John Henning said...

I admire your optimism, but I can't help but believe that VH1 or E! would happily sign Canseco on to be the star of a reality show. They could call it "Jose Canseco: Man/Beast" and center it around his struggle to contain his baser, more animalistic side. Alternately, they could call it "Jose Canseco: It's Complicated."