You’ll recall in the linked article about smokeless tobacco earlier today that the reason Stephen Strasburg is quitting the stuff is because of Tony Gwynn’s recent cancer diagnosis. Gwynn, it is noted, has blamed his years of smokeless tobacco use for the current state of his health.
Following that post, I received an email from a pathologist who says something worth bearing in mind:
I am ambivalent about what MLB and the players do about chewing tobacco, though I admit it probably be nice if they all just quit. And I am happy that Strasburg quit, for whatever reason.
But in the linked article, and in every article I have seen that mentioned Gwynn and his cancer, there is mention that Gwynn believes strongly that his cancer was caused by tobacco use. I would think a good reporter might mention, tactfully, that current evidence does not show such a link with the cancer I think Gwynn has (carcinoma ex pleomorphic adenoma). Tobacco has been linked to a certain benign parotid tumor, but not the one I think he originally had (I say “I think” because they never actually say, but I deduce it from the reports). Anyway, it may not be important, but I just am always irked by untruths is news reports (and here, note that I am not referring to you), however trivial. Tobacco has risk enough – there is no need it be exaggerated.
Good point. One of the things that bugs me about steroids stuff is the hysteria that surrounds it. I don’t care if Strasburg is quitting tobacco because his neighbor’s dog told him too — quitting is good regardless — but policy decisions should be based on the facts, not on hysteria, sympathy or misinformation.
The Nationals bullpen is a tire fire. They’re about to add another tire. Per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Washington is about to sign free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez.
K-Rod was released by the Tigers last week after posting an ERA of 7.82 over 28 appearances this season. He has a 1.658 WHIP, is allowing 11.9 hits per nine innings and is posting his highest walk rate in five years. Also worth noting: the Detroit Friggin’ Tigers decided that he was not good enough to be in their bullpen.
So, yeah, good luck with that Washington.
I’ve spent years arguing with people about team chemistry. You know the battle lines on all of that now: people who talk a lot about team chemistry tend to attribute winning or losing to good or bad chemistry, respectively. I tend to think that characterizing chemistry is a retroactive exercise in which teams that win are happy and then cite their happiness as the reason and vice versa. Jim Leyland agrees with me, for what it’s worth, so I’m pretty happy with my take.
Not that I’ll claim a monopoly on wisdom here. I’ve never played on a professional baseball team. I don’t know what it’s like to try to prepare to play baseball while surrounded by jackwagons who don’t get along with anyone. I can’t imagine that makes life easier. Indeed, based on the testimony of players I have spoken to, I will grant that there is at least some intangible yet real benefit if everyone is happy an gelling. I dismiss team chemistry arguments for the most part, but if I ran a team I’d at least try to get rid of bad seeds if their bad seeding was not outweighed by seriously outstanding on-the-field play. You want your workers happy, folks.
All of which makes me wonder what the heck to do about this passage from Ken Rosenthal’s latest column. It’s about the reeling San Francisco Giants. They have all kinds of issues — their offense is putrid, their pitching isn’t much better and they’ve been without their ace most of the year — but today Rosenthal looks at their team chemistry. It’s a quiet and subdued clubhouse, he notes, and it has a lot of people wondering if something is wrong there. What could it be?
Sandoval, who was an often noisy and boisterous presence during his time with the club, departed as a free agent after that season. Pence has suffered a number of injuries in recent years and declined offensively, making it difficult for him to be as vocal as he was in the past. Some with the Giants muse that the team even misses Angel Pagan, who created an odd sort of unity because most of the players disliked him.
Read that last sentence again. And then go on with your talk about how team chemistry is a legitimate explanatory concept regarding what makes teams win or lose as opposed to a post-hoc rationalization of it.
Not that it’s not a good article overall. There’s some interesting stuff about the Giants’ bullpen culture. And, of course, we now know why no one signed Pagan last winter.