OAKLAND, Calif. — I see the problem. I am here to help. It is obvious that all those girls and all that money and all those fast cars are just no fun for Jose Canseco. The man needs space. The man needs freedom. The man is a stallion, born to run.

Which is where I come in.

Jose, big fella, I can relate. I know what it’s like to be boxed in by fame. Actually, not by fame as much as by six other reporters in a small elevator. We could hardly breathe. And one of us had just eaten a salami sandwich.

But, hey, boxed in is boxed in, right? And so I sympathize. I hear you say,
“I feel like a gorilla in a cage,” when you speak of your fame to Sports Illustrated. I hear you wish you could be “like a normal person.” I hear your agent lament “Jose is the biggest fish in the ocean.” Gee. That doesn’t leave much room to flap your fins, does it?

Jose. Buddy. I can’t bear to watch it. Seeing all those screaming fans Tuesday night in Game 1 of the American League playoffs. Especially those blonds. How awful. I don’t know how you swung the bat. But have no fear.

I am about to solve your problems.

Somebody’s got to do it. Here’s the deal: For the next two weeks, or however

long this postseason lasts, you can drop all those shackles of fame that are so darn inconvenient. Really. From the stereo system to the jewelry to the bank accounts. Right here. In my hands. Got those car keys, Jose? That-a- boy.

I am here to help. Let me carry your burden

I know. I know. You are not used to reporters helping. You think we are all maggots. But you can believe this offer. The whole load. Paycheck. House. Fan mail. Lemme have it. Did I mention the new speedboat? Put ‘er there, Jose.

Lighten your load.

You should be free to be a normal person, Jose, like you asked to be on your hot-line number 1-900-234-JOSE, which costs callers a mere two dollars for the first minute. By the way, I’ll take care of that for the next two weeks, big man. It must be so exhausting doing a different message every day
— especially with the in-depth subjects you cover! What was it you said the other night? About you and your wife watching “Couples Body Building” on ESPN? And your wife got so excited she jumped on the bed and began flexing her muscles?

“She’s pretty built,” you said on the phone.

You see, Jose? It’s just that sort of Ozzie and Harriet stuff you should have all the time. Be a normal guy. In fact, I’m thinking . . . well . . . yeah, why not? I’m giving you my rent-a-car. It’s a Pinto. Take it, Jose. Drive it around. And I’ll take care of the Jaguar.

Did I ask you for the keys?

Now. I hear you. You’re thinking, “This is too good to be true.” Especially from a reporter. Usually we pick on you, writing these nasty articles which say what a talented baseball player you are, and how strong and good-looking you are, and it only brings on more fans, and more money, and more fast cars. Ooh. I said a nasty word, didn’t I? Cars. What was it, seven tickets in the last 15 months? The white Porsche and the red Jaguar? Or is the white Jaguar and the red Porsche? I always forget.

And all those baseball-card shows? Oooh. Another nasty word. You say they’re bad news. You can’t win. Sure. I understand. Sit around for an hour signing cards for $20 a pop. That’s a no-win situation if I ever saw one. You’re being weighed down

But, hey, for the next two weeks, you needn’t worry about that. I’m your guy. I’ll sign. It’s C-A-N-S-E-C-O, right? I’ll do the commercials, too. And let me worry about all those girls hanging around your driveway. Hey. I know! I’ll drive them all away! I can fit, what, three in the Porsche, and three in the Jaguar? You won’t see them again.

The girls, Jose. Not the cars.

“Going to lunch with Jose is like walking around with Elvis Presley.” Isn’t that what your teammate Walt Weiss said? Well. Sure. And like the Big E, you are a complex man, Jose. So many fans. So little time. Do you throw scarves also?

I can see it’s getting to you. It’s probably why you bumbled that ball in the second inning Tuesday night as a Toronto runner headed for the plate. Or why you struck out three times in four at-bats. Distractions. Nasty distractions.

Let’s face it, Jose. All this stuff is weighing you down. You were born to run. That’s why you go 120 m.p.h. on the highway. In another life, you were a cheetah.

So go ahead. Here is the Pinto and my hotel room keys. Go wild. Don’t mind the dirty laundry. And don’t worry about me.

Where did you say your house was?

Live it up, Jose. Or down. For the next two weeks, be one of us, and I’ll mind the candy store. And when this is all over, we’ll switch back. Just give me a call. My number is 1-900-BIG-FISH.

Leave a message at the tone.

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