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


It’s a Moneyball media fest out there — the articles on the book Moneyball, the movie Moneyball, the stars of Moneyball and the articles about the articles about Moneyball have created a light industry.

Everything you always wanted to know about Moneyball is currently available on the internet. Except one thing we’re not seeing: the possible contribution of performance-enhancing drugs to Oakland GM Billy Beane‘s best years with the A’s.

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

The 2001 A’s won 102 games, and it now appears that their two best players — by far — Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada, were into PEDs. The next season, 2002, the season that Michael Lewis’s best-selling book was devoted to, featured Tejada, who won the league’s Most Valuable Player award. Tejada played in all 162 games and hit 34 home runs with 131 runs batted in, with a on-base percentage of .354. He later admitted that he was on PEDs for that season as well as the next.

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?

And speaking of the A’s most unrepentant dope fiend, have you seen the brawl of the year? I don’t know why it took so long for this video to make the rounds, but this is one of the best baseball fights we’ve ever seen, involving the independent league Chico Outlaws and Yuma Scorpions.

The Outlaws manager and third base coach, Cy Young Award winner (1974) Mike Marshall, and former New York Met (for one year, 1989) Tony Phillips go at it. The Scorpions are managed by Canseco, who also plays outfield. Jose pulled his team off the field and later twittered, “Emotions were just out of control.”

Sounds like a perfect ‘roid rage.