Should the major leagues ban smokeless tobacco?

Leading Off: Time for baseball to put lid on cans of dip

Published: Monday, Jun. 16, 2014 - 11:08 pm
Last Modified: Friday, Jun. 20, 2014 - 9:42 am

Imagine all the kids in Northern California who wear their Little League pants above their kneecaps because of Giants right fielder Hunter Pence or how many young Pablo Sandoval fans dream of hitting three home runs in one World Series game like Panda.

What about all the kids in New England who hold their bat under their arm, spit into their batting gloves and slap their hands like David Ortiz before every at-bat for the Boston Red Sox?

If kids in Oakland could grow beards, they probably would just to look more like their A’s.

So you wonder how many children – now adults – began using smokeless tobacco because they saw Tony Gwynn dip into a can. “Hey, if one of the game’s greatest hitters of all time dips ... ”

Gwynn died Monday from oral cancer after using smokeless tobacco every day for most of his adult life. While the baseball world mourns the loss of a beloved Hall of Famer, there’s little talk about Gwynn’s eight batting titles, .338 career batting average or 3,141 hits. There’s little chatter about how this marvelous athlete at San Diego State was drafted by the Padres and Clippers – on the same day.

Instead, the talk is focused on smokeless tobacco use among major leaguers, which is rising, according to studies. The use is banned in the minor leagues and college, but big-league players so many admire are free to dip.

Cancer from smokeless tobacco took away Gwynn’s ability to smile and laugh before it took his life.

Let’s hope baseball learns from his death. Let’s hope baseball finally puts a lid on cans of smokeless tobacco in the big leagues.

– Victor Contreras


Today’s poll

Should the major leagues ban smokeless tobacco ?

• Yes

• No

Vote above, or go to sacbee.com/sports

Weekend results

How will the United States fare in the World Cup ?

• Lose all three matches: 23%

• Win one group match: 37%

• Advance out of group: 19%

• Quarterfinals: 7%

• Semifinals: 2%

• Second place: 3%

• Champion: 9%

Total votes: 199

Read more articles by Victor Contreras

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