I think we all look back fondly on the days when Lenny Dykstra would stuff eight pouches of Red Man directly into his sinuses and spend every plate appearance expectorating a liter of brown fluid onto home plate. But the fact that Major League Baseball players can still openly chew and dip tobacco in the dugout and on the field seems like an antiquated notion in an era of increased public health awareness. Which is why several prominent people have petitioned the league to ban the use of smokeless tobacco:
Now public health officials are asking Major League Baseball to ban smokeless tobacco in its most visible venues: the dugouts and baseball fields where players, coaches and staffers can be seen during nationally televised games chewing, spitting or sporting a wad of tobacco between cheek and gum. Commissioner Bud Selig endorsed the idea last week, but a ban is subject to negotiation with the players union.
There are plenty of Major Leaguers out there who chew tobacco, including former Phillie Pat Burrell (of course Pat the Bat dips), Mark DeRosa of the Giants, and Jack Cust of the Mariners, who told the Seattle Times they could take his Skoal over his dead, mouth cancer-riddled body. Cust argues that grown men should be free to do as they please.
Normally, I’d agree with Cust, except for a couple things. First off, baseball already has a ban on smoking cigarettes in the dugout. And chewing tobacco is no healthier than smoking (frankly, I’ll take lung cancer over lip cancer any day of the week). Secondly, I can tell you as a former idiot child, that seeing a ballplayer dip DOES have an effect on you. I thought Dykstra dipping looked totally awesome. This was before I found out he was a fraud, but whatever. Part of the reason I tried dipping (and ended up throwing up in the bushes) is because I saw my favorite players doing it, and that became part of the “I wanna be a ballplayer” fantasy for me. And what’s a parent supposed to do? Not take their kid to the ballpark to shield their precious eyes from seeing grown men dip? I doubt baseball likes that alternative.
This is a ban that should have been in place years ago. So Bud Selig should go ahead and put it in place. That way, I can safely watch the game with my child while drinking to excess and eating any number of cheese-stuffed processed meat products.