If Jose Canseco were to have his way, he’d have a bare-knuckle brawl with Alex Rodriguez. There doesn’t appear to be any immediate reason for Jose to make this challenge, but let’s just say there is no love lost between the two.
Each slugger is no stranger to both success and the scrutiny of the media throughout their careers, as each is a unique pillar in the pantheon of PEDs. How would we size up these two titans for a potential match? We could take a look at their height, weight, training regimen, blah blah blah. I don’t wanna do that. We could always take a trip back a few decades to when both players were featured in the same video game, Backyard Baseball 2001. The game came out at the tail end of Canseco’s career, and just as A-Rod was about to enter a new stratosphere, but that doesn’t change the fact the work is done, so I’m running with it.
In Backyard Baseball, each player had four categories and a ranking between 1-10 indicating their skill level; batting, running, pitching, and fielding. We are going to need to Google Translate those over to bare-knuckle fighting metrics. The EA Sports boxing game Knockout Kings was the first boxing game bio I found via asking Jeeves, and it has the following characteristics; power, speed, stamina, chin, heart, and cuts. So let’s call it this way; batting = power, running = speed/stamina, pitching = chin/cuts (like a cutter, get it?), and fielding = heart. Is it perfect? Absolutely not.
Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez
BattingPower: 7 RunningSpeed/Stamina: 9 PitchingChin/Cuts: 3 FieldingHeart: 9
“No Way” Jose Canseco
BattingPower: 8 RunningSpeed/Stamina: 8 PitchingChin/Cuts: 6 FieldingHeart: 4
For our two gladiators, we are pretty much a wash in the power department. They are mountains and have stayed in shape in their post-baseball careers. Through an openness to go the chemical route and a desire to be the best, both would die of blows to the head before losing their strength. That said, “No Way” is juuuuust a bit bigger, so we’re gonna give it to him. The game calls are 8 to 7 in his favor as well.
You can basically take everything I said above and apply it to our behemoths. Canseco was the inaugural member of the 40/40 Club (40+ HR and 40+ SB in a season. Also the name of Jay-Z’s former sports bar) and A-Rod joined him ten years later. Mr. Rodriguez was a pretty elite base thief in his prime, racking up 129 more stolen bases than Jose over their careers. Another close one (9 to 8 A-Rod) using the arbitrary game comparison, which is a pleasant surprise.
We finally have a category with some differentiators. While we’ve seen A-Rod take a punch and stay on his feet, we’ve seen how thick Jose’s skull is. While his professional fighting career is an uninspiring 0-1 with a submission at 1:17 of Round 1, he was fighting a Frankenstein-level monster. Per the game, it’s a 6 to 3 win for “No Way” Jose.
Like Kwame, Wheeler, Linka, and Gi, I’m also not exactly sure what heart is, or where it fits in, but I know it when I see it and know it’s damn important.
This is the first one where my arbitrary attribute comparisons really cost one of the competitors. Heart is associated with fielding in the game, and A-Rod was elite. While Canseco was…no way Jose. He wasn’t good throughout his career, and he has an all-time blunder on his highlight reel. I know you’ve seen it, but watch again anyway. The game called this 9 to 4 A-Rod, and why not? A-Rod was always a HOF talent, so there are things where he is just better. I’m too invested in the attributes to change them now anyway.
So who wins this clash of the titans? We set out to settle this debate using Backyard Baseball 2001, and going by the attributes there, A-Rod narrowly edges out Jose Canseco by an attribute score of 28 to 26. A close margin to be sure, but if we are being real, like mad real, the only way Jose loses that fight is if he falls. Maybe one day A-Rod’s bored and we get to find out.