Tuesday, May 19, 2015

So you got the kid to mind for a few hours. What can you do with an 8 year old kid that won’t give you a heart attack trying to keep up with him? That is why TV was invented. All ages of folks love it. But what can I watch with him that will not all of a sudden turn into a sex scene or some gender issues kissing or too much violence, crying, dirty jokes or begging to go to Disney? A good old baseball game seems safe enough until the players are stuffing tobacco in their checks and start drooling and spitting and then the why questions start. Why do they do that? Why do they want to? Why are they addicted to it? And the big why. Why can’t I do it and they can if it is so bad for them? So now I am asking why too.

There is the late great Tony Gwynn a Hall of Famer who for 20 seasons engaged in the worst of Baseball habits, dipping smokeless tobacco. As he was dying from throat cancer last summer blaming his fate on years from dipping many do feel besides the 8 year old kid that there should be a ban on the cancerous stuff at Baseball games. It turns out that the Players Union is stopping the ban on the stuff. Now I want to know why? It is bad enough that TV cameras can close up on everything a player does during a game even in the dugout, so kids can see every bit of tobacco being shoved in the face. Tony Gwynn was a great role model to kids and even to his own son who is involved in Baseball now. Tony was one of the greatest hitters of all time but he was known for leaving spit cups all over the place even at home. A bad memory for his kid.

When Tony Gwynn Jr. made it to the Major League, her started chewing too. All players have their rituals but in a long boring shut out game sitting in the dugout, you need something to do. Something that is widespread and accepted there. Chewing tobacco has become as much as a ritual at games as Cracker Jacks, the National Anthem or the 7th inning stretch. Bret Butler defends his habit as part of the game. College coaches tell kids they are going to have to learn to chew so they have a reason to spit on an opposing player’s shoes. Sure it is the dirty, messy and down rite gross   not so little secret of baseball. Now I am guilty of letting this 8 year old kid notice chewing tobacco and be interested in it. I thought watching a game was safe TV!!!

Now kids playing little league can get their hands on the stuff and some by age 18 get stage 4 throat and lip cancer.  It can require 34 surgeries to remove lymph nodes, and half his neck muscles and 1/3 of the tongue even with no cancer in his background. If it hits you, it is devastating. Half the people are dead within 5 years. How can we tell someone to stop doing something when it is legal? Baseball bans smoking on the field why not chewing I Tony Clark is the   President of the players union who does not want to discuss this issue. Over the years the habit has dropped about 17% but it is still there and present in baseball. Chewing tobacco is still ten times more used in baseball than the general population.

We should legislate and make the deadly substance unlawful that ruins great players their lives. I wish I could tell the 8 year old kid they were only chewing gum.

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