From 1991 to 1997, Thomas finished in the top 10 of the MVP voting every year. In 1997 , Thomas won the batting title and finished third in MVP voting. However, due in part to personal strife off the field, his offensive production wavered during the next two seasons. Never a defensive standout at first base during the early part of his career, Thomas nonetheless preferred playing in the field to serving as a designated hitter , saying that it kept him focused; the fact that he did generally hit better as a first baseman created a dilemma over the years for the White Sox as to whether to use him as a DH, which would reduce wear on his body but might cost some offensive production. By the late 1990s, minor injuries were tending to keep him unavailable for short periods, and 1997 was the last year in which he played more in the field than as a DH. Thomas rebounded with force in 2000 when he hit .328 with a career-high 43 homers and 143 runs batted in. Thomas finished second in MVP voting that season, behind Jason Giambi of the Oakland Athletics . Thomas also won the 2000 AL Comeback Player of the Year Award . But this would not mean an end to the rocky path he would follow later in his career.
You’re 24 years old. It’s the bottom of the eighth, down 1-0, you and Clemens. ‘Visualize,’ you tell yourself, ‘visualize.’ You need this, because the fear still keeps you up at night. What if some young kid coming up takes away your at-bats, then your position, then your father’s approval? It’s the reason you watch endless hours of tape, keying in on every pitcher’s tendencies. That’s why you know a fastball is coming — inside. You can still see the threads spinning. In your darkest hours, this is what you cling to, like a child sucking a pacifier. Head down. Hips turn. Boom. Rounding the bases, your feet never touch the ground.
Which made Canseco’s second benefactor — Mike Wallace — all the more important. John Hamlin, a producer at 60 Minutes , had gotten a tip about Canseco’s book from a friend at another network. (The friend couldn’t act on it because his employer was a Major League Baseball rights holder.) Hamlin began calling baseball people and confirming the details. Almost no one would talk on the record, but they suggested that Canseco’s account was true. One of the few allegations Hamlin couldn’t verify was Canseco’s insistence that Roger Clemens was juicing.