But I will go out on a limb and venture that any list of the one hundred greatest baseball players who ever lived would conform to the pattern of our species, and therefore contain a sizable number of men who spent most of their lives fumbling with an inherent tendency to shirk, ignore the sufferings of others, tell lies, and evade responsibility. Playing baseball well does not make you a better person any more than writing well does. The illusion that lures us into the error of confounding Clemente’s goodness as a man with his greatness as a ballplayer is that when a man is playing baseball well, as when a man is writing well, he seems to himself in that moment to be a better person than he is. He puts it all together, he has all the tools, in a way that seems impossible outside the lines of the ball field or the margins of the page. He shines, and we catch the reflected glint of that and extend the shining on an overall credit for luminosity that almost nobody could merit. Clemente, I think, shone with the grace and integrity of his play even when he was not on the field.
On Canseco, Michael Chabon