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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Barra: Brad Pitt Aside, Here’s a Baseball Quiz: Why Does Moneyball Leave Out Steroid Ball?

As “Franko” Cassavetes repeatedly repeated in The Dirty Dozen...“You SLOB! You SLOB!”

Why are Beane, author Michael Lewis and the A’s getting a free pass from the sports media on this?

...What other dopers did the A’s have on that team? Well, Jeremy Giambi later confessed to the use of anabolic steroids, but did not specify 2002. Reserve outfielder-third baseman Adam Piatt says he dealt steroids to other players but has been ambiguous about whom besides Tejada he dealt them to.

Is it possible that Piatt was dealing but had only one customer among his teammates? It certainly seems unlikely. But something else also seems unlikely: that Billy Beane could have been the team’s general manager during those years and not have known what the researchers for the Mitchell Report knew. And what did Michael Lewis know, and when did he know it?

...Though Tejada is mentioned eleven times in Moneyball, there was no reference to any drug use in any edition. Nor is Tejada’s admission to having used drugs included in even the newest edition.

The subject of steroids and Beane and Moneyball has been brought up in the past (in Tom Scocca’s 2007 Slate story “Mitchellball: How the steroids report changes the Moneyball story,” for instance). But especially now that the movie is stirring up such publicity, shouldn’t the A’s, after the revelations regarding Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire and steroids, merit more scrutiny from the media instead of less?

Repoz Posted: September 24, 2011 at 02:21 PM | 37 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: books, history, media, sabermetrics, steroids

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 24, 2011 at 03:21 PM (#3934733)
For the love of Chr&st;, will folks give it a rest already.

Nobody is paying attention to the broadsides people.

Geez oh pete. Only baseball would have a movie about its sport and have every godd*mned article by its sportswriters b*tching and moaning about the publicity.
   2. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 24, 2011 at 03:34 PM (#3934748)
Though Tejada is mentioned eleven times in Moneyball, there was no reference to any drug use in any edition. Nor is Tejada’s admission to having used drugs included in even the newest edition.


Doesn't the story told in the book and movie take place at a time when nobody was really talking about any of the principals as juicers? If you're describing the perception of Miguel Tejada circa 2002, how do steroids enter into it? Even if one grants that things learned in 2007 change a story told in 2003, it's difficult to criticize the 2003 storyteller for not knowing those things, and it would be a rather unusual standard to require a revision or a retraction every time something like this happened.
   3. Bob Tufts Posted: September 24, 2011 at 03:36 PM (#3934752)
Barra appears to be obsessed with pannng the book and movie. I suggest a good legal sedative.
   4. Dale Sams Posted: September 24, 2011 at 03:57 PM (#3934770)
And what did Michael Lewis know, and when did he know it?


This is a variation of the "Why didn't Mitchell catch Papi and Manny". So I'll vary my responce accordingly.

Why didn't Lewis solve the 'Zodiac Murders' while he was writing Moneyball?
   5. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: September 24, 2011 at 04:12 PM (#3934781)
Why didn't Barra cure cancer while writing this article?
   6. Tricky Dick Posted: September 24, 2011 at 04:43 PM (#3934817)
Nor is Tejada’s admission to having used drugs included in even the newest edition.

Tejada has never admitted to using steroids. Tejada pleaded guilty to making a false statement because he told an investigator that he had never discussed the subject of steroids with anyone on the Orioles.
   7. ray james Posted: September 24, 2011 at 04:50 PM (#3934830)
Allen, while I think the role of steroids in modern baseball would make an excellent movie, this movie is not about that. If steroids were brought into it, it would have been such a distraction, it would have destroyed the whole plot structure.
   8. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: September 24, 2011 at 05:26 PM (#3934866)
I'll have a try. Because steroid use was so widespread throughout the game, and so was the knowledge of it, that no one team or GM could take unique advantage?
   9. James Kannengieser Posted: September 24, 2011 at 05:42 PM (#3934887)
Because nobody cares. They'll care even less in a few decades too.
   10. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: September 24, 2011 at 06:09 PM (#3934920)
How come the movie Titanic didn't talk about the Italo-Turkish war? Huh? What were they trying to hide?
   11. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: September 24, 2011 at 06:19 PM (#3934939)
Reds was my favorite movie of all time till about 30 seconds ago. Its turning a blind eye toward the Black Sox scandal suddenly strikes me as utterly unforgivable.
   12. Steve Treder Posted: September 24, 2011 at 06:26 PM (#3934950)
It's disgusting that The Sound of Music doesn't address the Holocaust.
   13. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: September 24, 2011 at 06:29 PM (#3934958)
I'll have a try. Because steroid use was so widespread throughout the game, and so was the knowledge of it, that no one team or GM could take unique advantage?


Designer steroids are the new market inefficiency.
   14. Dan Szymborski Posted: September 24, 2011 at 07:18 PM (#3935003)
It's disgusting that The Sound of Music doesn't address the Holocaust.

I can't think about Sound of Music without laughing hilariously, simply because of the guy in the audience during the music festival who loudly exclaims "THIRD reich!?!?" As if there were all these reichs in Germany that von Trapp could be serving in at the time. WWII wasn't even over for 15 years at this point!
   15. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: September 24, 2011 at 07:19 PM (#3935005)
8...all that may be true, but there was a lot of resistance to that here, back in the good old days of the Bonds arguments.
   16. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: September 24, 2011 at 07:28 PM (#3935009)
Moneyball barely mentioned my mom dying of cancer during the 2002 season. Billy Beane never should have invented that disease.
   17. JRVJ Posted: September 24, 2011 at 07:53 PM (#3935031)
Ok, let's back-up for a second here.

Barra is doing his best to imitate Murray Chass here, but he does have a kernel of a point: could the real story of the success of the Oakland A's in the early 00s in fact be a consequence of them having some notorious roiders?

The short answer would be that until somebody can produce evidence to the effect that the A's knew that their players and/or the players they were targetting were roiders (and successful roiders at that), AND that the A's purposefully considered that (roiding) as an undervalued skill in MLB, there really is no story.

I should point out that a real guerilla operation based on the underlying tenets of Moneyball (look for undervalued assets and obtain them to compete with better funded competitors) should have actively signed roiders if roiding is not forbidden by league rules. However, I have no reason to believe the A's of the early 00s were that organization.
   18. JRVJ Posted: September 24, 2011 at 07:54 PM (#3935033)
Sorry, double post.
   19. Walt Davis Posted: September 24, 2011 at 09:14 PM (#3935167)
Geez oh pete.

That's a new one.

Only baseball would have a movie about its sport and have every godd*mned article by its sportswriters b*tching and moaning about the publicity.

Nah, they got nothing on us jazz fans. We don't even like Ken Burns or Clint Eastwood which I think puts us in violation of the Constitution. We also don't like Spike Lee but that's not so unusual.

I am reasonably confident that no A's hitter has used steroids since at least 2007. In fact I'm not sure an A's player has hit a home run since 2007.
   20. Steve Treder Posted: September 24, 2011 at 09:18 PM (#3935173)
Nah, they got nothing on us jazz fans. We don't even like Ken Burns or Clint Eastwood which I think puts us in violation of the Constitution.

And we especially don't like Wynton Marsalis and Stanley Crouch.

In fact I'm not sure an A's player has hit a home run since 2007.

Came close several times, including a few that reached the warning track. But, you're right, no home runs since then.
   21. Tripon Posted: September 24, 2011 at 09:27 PM (#3935191)


The short answer would be that until somebody can produce evidence to the effect that the A's knew that their players and/or the players they were targetting were roiders (and successful roiders at that), AND that the A's purposefully considered that (roiding) as an undervalued skill in MLB, there really is no story.


You couldn't take it further, and ask if any successful team in that 'era' knew that its players were steroid users. Did the Red Sox know, the Yankees, the Diamondbacks? And so on, and so on. The problem with the claim that the A's success has to do mainly because of steroid use seems to imply other teams did it 'clean'.

Or to put it another way, other teams did it with plain old traditional methods with gumption like juicing the #### up.
   22. Ephus Posted: September 24, 2011 at 09:40 PM (#3935214)
When Spike Lee did "Do The Right Thing", he was criticized for not showing the effect of crack on Bed-Stuy, which was pervasive in the late '80s. His response was that "Do The Right Thing" was already overflowing with narrative, and he could not do justice to the story in just a few moments. He stated that when he did something on crack, it would be unvarnished. True to his word, the Samuel L. Jackson scenes from "Jungle Fever" are spectacular (deserved a best supporting actor Oscar IMHO).

To throw steroids on top of Moneyball would likewise be too much.
   23. Steve Treder Posted: September 24, 2011 at 09:47 PM (#3935220)
the Samuel L. Jackson scenes from "Jungle Fever" are spectacular (deserved a best supporting actor Oscar IMHO).

Absolutely.
   24. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: September 24, 2011 at 10:03 PM (#3935241)
It's disgusting that The Sound of Music doesn't address the Holocaust.

How do you solve a problem like Mengele?
   25. JRVJ Posted: September 24, 2011 at 10:31 PM (#3935276)
Tripon,

You make good points, but let's turn this point around: the fact that the Moneyball A's were part of the steroid era, and that steroid use seems to have been pervasive across the board in MLB does not preclude the possibility that a specific team (or small group of teams) had a much higher percentage of roiders on their franchise than other franchises.

And to take that point even farther, it's not beyond the realm of the possible that a team (and I'm not pointing ot the A's here) knowingly (even if only "wink wink" knowingly) actively fostered the hiring of roiders, especially since the story of the steroid era has certianly not been written (and may never GET written, but that's another point).

My two bits.
   26. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: September 24, 2011 at 10:36 PM (#3935280)
The steroid thing is very relevant to Moneyball. I.e. Jason Giambi was used as an example of somebody developing power and why having plate discipline is much more important for draft selections. But the way in which Giambi developed that power is no longer able to be used.

So perhaps the guys that the A's drafts favored, those who were not as liked by the scouts, ended up being, even if inadvertently, those who would be most helped by steroid use once they hit the professional leagues.
   27. Lassus Posted: September 24, 2011 at 11:11 PM (#3935318)
And we especially don't like Wynton Marsalis and Stanley Crouch.

I understand this, having paid some attention over the years; but without Wynton jazz would be far closer to dead now than it already is.

It's the same love/hate relationship the residents of a small town like Winter Park has in CO has with the skiers. They bltch and moan, but without them, you have no life or as much money.


Barra has really written some shrill stuff over the past few years. Was he always like this? Because it seems somewhat new.
   28. Downtown Bookie Posted: September 24, 2011 at 11:19 PM (#3935331)
But the way in which Giambi developed that power is no longer able to be used.


If Giambi's power came from steroid use, why didn't his power go away once testing began?

DB
   29. Steve Treder Posted: September 24, 2011 at 11:19 PM (#3935332)
I understand this, having paid some attention over the years; but without Wynton jazz would be far closer to dead now than it already is.

I don't know about that. Seems to me it was humming along pretty good until he came along. The fusion explosion of the '70s might well be considered the last great period/style for jazz.
   30. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: September 25, 2011 at 12:39 AM (#3935369)
Last I checked, Moneyball is not a documentary.
   31. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: September 25, 2011 at 01:01 AM (#3935379)
Nah, they got nothing on us jazz fans...We also don't like Spike Lee but that's not so unusual.


I thought Spike rooted for the Knicks, not the Jazz.
   32. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 25, 2011 at 01:15 AM (#3935384)
Geez oh pete.

That's a new one.


no it isn't--my high school coach used it 45 years ago--it was a Catholic school and he wasn't allowed to swear--so he would alternate between "Geez oh Pete" and "Geez oh man"
   33. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 25, 2011 at 01:31 AM (#3935390)
I though Barra was a good writer once, unti I realized he was actually a troll who rarely checks his facts. I wonder if he has some deep seated animus against the Village Voice and WSJ, and his goal is to destroy their reputations from within.

And his point here is ludicrous, based on the dumbest possible speculation. He doesn't have any source or info that the A's benefited from steroids more than other teams, and ignores the fact that the collective bargaining agreement meant teams didn't have any say over players use.
   34. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 25, 2011 at 02:05 AM (#3935409)
And we especially don't like Wynton Marsalis and Stanley Crouch.

What you mean, "we"?

The fusion explosion of the '70s might well be considered the last great period/style for jazz.

Lucky in gambling, unlucky in love.

Sane about baseball, insane about jazz.
   35. Walt Davis Posted: September 25, 2011 at 05:15 AM (#3935498)
All the good points about why it's superfluous to the story aside, I find it rather hard to believe that front office staff during the sillyball era weren't speculating like crazy. Actually I find it hard to believe that managers, front offices and owners weren't fully complicit but I'm willing to let them slide on "I see nuthink!" as long as they hold to the "speak no evil" part as well.

Anyway, I would agree that a "behind-the-scenes baseball documentary" of that era would have to touch on steroids. But Lewis wasn't after a behind-the-scenes baseball documentary, he was after a story about a new business model and the battle between traditionalists and young Turks.

Which brings us to moldy fig Andy ... :-)
   36. whoisalhedges Posted: September 26, 2011 at 02:20 PM (#3937207)
Scott Hatteberg never should have edited that trailer.
   37. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: September 26, 2011 at 02:31 PM (#3937222)
No one cares about steroids. The more important question is why a movie set in the 2001-2003 time period doesn't make any effort to address the impact of 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq on the baseball community and the nation's psyche more generally.

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