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Now Tigers Fans Can Hate Jose Canseco, Too

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Not to say that fans of the Detroit Tigers wouldn't have had a reason to dislike Jose Canseco before, based on principle, if nothing else. But Canseco's grandstanding about being a whistle blower (book sales pimp) for steroid use is now hitting close to home.

According to today's New York Times, Canseco planned to name Magglio Ordonez as a steroid user in his next "tell-all" book, unless Ordonez invested money in a planned film project. (The film in question, by the way, is a documentary based on Canseco's first book, Juiced.) Sources on this story come from inside Major League Baseball.

Four people in baseball confirmed that referrals were made from Major League Baseball to the F.B.I. regarding Canseco's actions relating to the six-time All-Star outfielder Magglio Ordóñez, who was not mentioned in Canseco's earlier book or in any other report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. All four insisted on anonymity because they said they didn't have authority to speak about the events.

The F.B.I. did not open a formal investigation because Ordóñez said he did not want to pursue the complaint.

As you might have guessed, Canseco denies the allegations. The original ghostwriter of his new project, however, says that Ordonez was indeed going to be named in the book (which will apparently still be released on March 31), and would be the most significant player mentioned.

Ordonez, meanwhile, didn't elaborate, other than to confirm that he told Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski about Canseco attempting to contact him. The Tigers notified the commissioner's office, and MLB registered a complaint with the F.B.I. Ordonez also said that Canseco, who was a teammate on the 2001 Chicago White Sox, did not outright ask for money.

So if you're like me, maybe one of your first thoughts was "Extortion!" The Times reporters consulted a Columbia law professor to see if Ordonez had a case.

Asked whether Canseco's alleged actions constitute extortion, Daniel C. Richman, a professor at Columbia Law School and a former federal prosecutor, said it would be a hard case to prove. "A demand for an investment isn't as obvious of a threat, and a jury may be less likely to see it as extortion compared to a demand for hard cash," he said.

Something else to consider is how this affects the veracity of the Mitchell Report. For one thing, Canseco obviously didn't tell George Mitchell everything he supposedly knew. And Mitchell apparently didn't know of Canseco hitting players up for money, nor any F.B.I. investigations into the matter. At least such information isn't in the report.