LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. As a practical matter, Gerald Laird was indirectly responsible for Moneyball, the best-selling book (and Oscar-nominated movie of the same name) chronicling the underdog story of the 2002 Oakland Athletics.
Here's the scoop:
Fifteen years ago and fresh out of high school (southern California), Laird subjectively had more physical upside than future luminaries like Adam Dunn, Barry Zito, Matt Holliday, Mark Teixeira, Mark Buehrle, J.J. Putz and Cliff Lee all members of Major League Baseball's 1998 draft class.
That spring, the Athletics snagged the sweet-swinging, smooth-fielding Laird with the second pick of Round 2 (45th overall), ahead of the seven names listed above.
By all accounts, Laird was the future backstop for an A's club that would claim four division titles and make five playoff appearances from 2000-06.
By all accounts, he would be the battery anchor for a dynamic, and potentially dynastic, pitching rotation that featured Zito, Tim Hudson a...