A man struggles with tobacco addiction. But it’s not what you think.

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I used to think that I had a baseball card problem.  I was a mere piker compared to Amar Shah, however, who shares his tale of collecting T206 tobacco cards over at ESPN.com today:

A few weeks later came the T206 tipping point. Tejal was working all day and I had the entire day to myself. As soon as she was out the door, I was jonesing to buy something. In a mood of ’90s nostalgia, I asked Zack behind the counter at the card shop if he had a box of ’92-93 Upper Deck basketball. I’d spend the $40, go home and perhaps pull a Shaq rookie …

… An hour later, I awaited the total from Zack. $2,570 for 19 T206 cards, including 16 Hall of Famers such as Eddie Collins and John McGraw. The Upper Deck box was thrown in for free. Irrational exuberance blocked any sense of rationality as I handed him the credit card. I had just spent two months of rent on 100-year-old artifacts of men I’d never seen play, but the only remorse was thinking I should have bought the Ty Cobb, too. I left the store in a state of delirium. When I got home I planned a clever cover-up, cleaning the house and doing the dreaded dishes. I hid my new treasures in a “Star Wars” tin.

Shah is developing a documentary on the baseball card industry. Based on what he says in this article about his collecting habits and the reactions to it by his wife Tejal, I presume he is likewise on his way to a big honkin’ divorce.  Not that their marriage hasn’t survived similar obsession on Amar’s part in the past (Warning: loud autoplay video there, so mute before clicking).

Note to Amar: if this is the Tejal Shah to whom you are married — and I think it is — you are making a grave, grave mistake by continually trying her patience my friend.

Robinson Cano hit his 300th home run last night

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Last night Robinson Cano hit a solo homer in the ninth inning of the Mariners’ loss to the Texas Rangers. It was his 22nd on the season. Though it was insignificant to the outcome of that game, it was significant to Cano: it was his 300th career homer.

While we’ve become accustomed to not caring much about home run milestones south of, say, 500, 300 homers for Cano is a big deal, as he’s only the third second baseman to cross that threshold in baseball history. The other two: Jeff Kent, at 377, and Rogers Hornsby at 301.

Cano, who turns 35 next month, has a career line of .305/.354/.495 and 1,179 RBI, 512 doubles and 33 triples to go with those bombs. He’s in his 13th big league season and still has six more years left on his deal with the Mariners. He’s averaged 24 homers a year since coming to the Mariners. While he’ll obviously trail off at some point — and while great second baseman’s have this weird habit of just suddenly falling off a cliff — it’s highly likely that he’ll finish his career as the all-time home run leader among second baseman. If he remains healthy he should also get over 3,000 hits in his career.

Cooperstown, here he comes.

Reds sign catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year deal

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Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.

The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.

Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.