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Major League Baseball tried to get tobacco taken out of “Moneyball”

Sep 26, 2011, 12:02 PM EDT

moneyball poster

Major League Baseball has made no secret of the fact that it wants players to stop using smokeless tobacco while at the ballpark.  It’s a push they’re likely going to take to the MLBPA during collective bargaining this fall. That may be problematic and may meet resistance, but as I’ve written many times, it’s something worth doing. It’s one of the few times where I give any credence to “won’t somebody think of the children” kinds of appeals, because I’ve seen guys pick up dipping precisely because it’s seen as the “big league” thing to do.

But even if wanting to wipe out smokeless tobacco is a laudable goal, one can get carried away with it.  Major League Baseball tried to get a bit carried away, but Hollywood wouldn’t let them:

Major League Baseball is so keen on scrubbing tobacco from the sport that it asked Sony Pictures to remove scenes depicting its use in the movie “Moneyball,” though the studio declined to do so. In the new film, Brad Pitt plays Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, and incorporates several of his habits, including dipping … Baseball spokesman Pat Courtney said the studio agreed to many of MLB’s suggestions in the film, but decided to keep Beane’s tobacco use as a matter of authenticity, because he used the product at the time the movie is set (Beane has since quit dipping).

“Moneyball” is a movie aimed at grownups depicting events that, for the most part, actually took place.  You start to get into real trouble when your zeal to make a better future causes you to whitewash the past. Just ask the ghosts of Robert Johnson, Jackson Pollock and Winston Churchill.

Did they have to have Brad Pitt dipping in “Moneyball?”  No.  But it’s part of the character he was portraying. And we should be able to handle that.

  1. dailyrev - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    This reminds me of the time, a few years back, when a very good liberal blogger at The Nation named Alterman delivered a harsh rant against movies that showed people smoking. I wrote him a note in his comments basically asking him if he’d like every film from Citizen Kane to The Godfather grossly altered to have the offending smoke-bits edited out. I mean WTF is art if not a mirror to society, a reflection of a culture?

    • thefalcon123 - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:23 PM

      Oh, Eric Alterman…. Alterman was featured prominently in the documentary “An Unreasonable Man” about Ralph Nader. Alterman comes off as a hate-filled, intellectually dishonest idiot in that film. Watching him in that makes it pretty hard to take him seriously about anything.
      And for the record, I’m not saying this as a Nader supported, but I most assuredly am not.

  2. yankeesfanlen - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:21 PM

    Why does MLB get so worked up about a couple of Brad Pitt “PTUIs”? Wait til they get to “The Jim Leyland Story”!

  3. hermitfool - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    What’s authentic about a tobacco company paying a movie studio to include smoking actors in a picture?

  4. Francisco (FC) - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:49 PM

    Which is why you see Craig only with a bubble pipe in the Lair.

    • nolanwiffle - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:21 PM

      You took money from the unscrupulous liquid soap people?

      • cur68 - Sep 26, 2011 at 3:06 PM

        He had no choice. The Palmolive lobby is pretty powerful.

  5. addictedzone - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:33 PM

    It’s damn Un-American to whitewash baseball by eliminating the dipping of Skoal or choking on a chaw of Red Man in movies. Let’s stick with the true American way and just whitewash the history books.

  6. gostros19 - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:29 PM

    No matter what MLB tries to do major league baseball players are not going to stop dipping. its already a hard habit to break already…waste of time to prevent using smokeless tobacco.

  7. contraryguy - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    Taking tobacco use out of a baseball movie is like taking the violence out of Slap Shot.

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