Feb 16, 2011, 10:07 AM EDT
Longtime readers are well aware of my steadfast rule: lips that touch chewing tobacco shall never touch mine. But Major League Baseball has no such code, and two Democratic senators — urged on by none other than Stephen Strasburg — are pushing to change the smokeless tobacco culture in MLB. Sens. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Dick Durbin of Illinois have sent a letter to commissioner Bud Selig urging him to ban smokeless tobacco at all Major League venues, claiming that dip and chew endanger players’ health and send “a dangerous message” to young fans.
And Strasburg, who in addition to being the MLB rookie du jour is also based in D.C., tells the story of how he started chewing tobacco because he wanted to emulate his heroes, and how he has struggled to quit.
“I’m still in the process of quitting,” Strasburg, 22, told the Washington Post. “I’ve made a lot of strides, stopped being so compulsive with it. I’m hoping I’m going to be clean for spring training. It’s going to be hard, because it’s something that’s embedded in the game.”
Strasburg recently sent a letter to the MLBPA, echoing Durbin’s plea to ban chew. But this stuff has been around since Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner, and people have been crippled and have even died from it. So why hasn’t there been a ban before now? Politics, of course.
Tobacco has not been banned in the majors, experts say, because MLB and the players’ union view smokeless tobacco as a collective bargaining issue rather than a health issue. The players’ association will not yield to a ban without a concession, and the league has been unwilling to cede anything to implement a ban.
Beautiful. Fortunately, though, we have a strong commissioner who will not be held hostage to the political shenanigans of … oh wait, no we don’t. Here’s a spittoon.
Look, baseball … our economy’s in the crapper, the Middle East has gone bonkers and Republicans in South Dakota are introducing a bill to legalize the killing of abortion doctors. With all those fires to put out, our politicians do not have time to play school nurse to a bunch of ball-whacking millionaires. It is time to literally clean up your act, you knobs.
If Tiger can be fined and ridiculed for regular spit, baseball can figure a way to rid itself of the Demon Chew.
Senate Democrats Want Tobacco Outlawed In Major League Baseball [Huffington Post]
Stephen Strasburg attempts to quit smokeless tobacco [Washington Post]
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