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Jessica Canseco's shallow life as a ballplayer's wife

Jessica Canseco is the ex-wife of former baseball superstar and confessed steroid user Jose Canseco. Apparently, that qualifies her to write a tell-all memoir and was enough to convince a major publishing house to pay her for said effort and to market the final product.

"Juicy: Confessions of a Former Baseball Wife," which explores her tumultuous relationship with Jose Canseco, comes out months after the publication of her ex-husband's own memoir, "Juiced." The publication of "Juicy" was tied to her appearance on the cover of and inside last month's issue of Playboy magazine. It is a promotion one hopes is not repeated with Michael Moore's next book.

The book is as thin as a dragonfly's wing. It wallows in her emotionally barren childhood, her emotionally barren marriage to Canseco, the lavish lifestyle she enjoyed as a millionaire ballplayer's wife and -- in uncomfortably vivid detail -- his intra- and extra-marital sexual exploits.

When we first meet Jessica Canseco, she is still Jessica Sekely, a naive, stunningly attractive 19 year old who lives in Cleveland and is a Hooters waitress trainee. Jose Canseco, 28 years old, is one of the top stars in the Major League Baseball firmament, though his best seasons are behind him. He is in Cleveland on a road trip when he goes into Sekely's Hooters with a few teammates.

It was love, or something approximating it, at first sight, according to Jessica Canseco, (who calls her future husband Mister Gorgeous). She said she didn't know who he was, but was instantly drawn to his muscles and good looks. He asked if she'd like to go to lunch, and she wrote her phone number on a napkin and gave it to him. It was the start to a beautiful and terrible relationship.

Throughout the book, Jessica Canseco peddles a kind of amateur psychology that goes something like this: Her father was emotionally unavailable and no one in her family ever said they loved anyone else. Therefore, despite her natural beauty, she suffered from poor self esteem.

Jose Canseco, if this memoir is to be believed, could give Wilt Chamberlain a run for his money when it comes to sexual conquests. Every time Jessica confronts Jose about an affair, he denies it, or admits only as much as is absolutely necessary while promising he will stop and begging Jessica to give him a second chance.

The book is intended to have a happy ending. Jessica Canseco found the will to divorce Jose, found work as a model, appeared in a national commercial for Coors Light and won a spot in Playboy magazine.

This is intended to serve as a message of hope for women trapped in bad relationships. But the message I take away from "Juicy" is a different one: Unless one enjoys wallowing in tawdriness, avoid Jessica Canseco's memoir.

Juicy

Confessions of a Former Baseball Wife

By Jessica Canseco

Regan Books

248 pages, $25.95

Stephen T. Watson is a News staff reporter.

e-mail: swatson@buffnews.com

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