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Major League Baseball tried to get tobacco taken out of “Moneyball”

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Major League Baseball has made no secret of the fact that it wants players to stop using smokeless tobacco while at the ballpark.  It’s a push they’re likely going to take to the MLBPA during collective bargaining this fall. That may be problematic and may meet resistance, but as I’ve written many times, it’s something worth doing. It’s one of the few times where I give any credence to “won’t somebody think of the children” kinds of appeals, because I’ve seen guys pick up dipping precisely because it’s seen as the “big league” thing to do.

But even if wanting to wipe out smokeless tobacco is a laudable goal, one can get carried away with it.  Major League Baseball tried to get a bit carried away, but Hollywood wouldn’t let them:

Major League Baseball is so keen on scrubbing tobacco from the sport that it asked Sony Pictures to remove scenes depicting its use in the movie “Moneyball,” though the studio declined to do so. In the new film, Brad Pitt plays Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, and incorporates several of his habits, including dipping … Baseball spokesman Pat Courtney said the studio agreed to many of MLB’s suggestions in the film, but decided to keep Beane’s tobacco use as a matter of authenticity, because he used the product at the time the movie is set (Beane has since quit dipping).

“Moneyball” is a movie aimed at grownups depicting events that, for the most part, actually took place.  You start to get into real trouble when your zeal to make a better future causes you to whitewash the past. Just ask the ghosts of Robert Johnson, Jackson Pollock and Winston Churchill.

Did they have to have Brad Pitt dipping in “Moneyball?”  No.  But it’s part of the character he was portraying. And we should be able to handle that.

Justin Verlander: “I’d like to see the AL and NL have the same rules… I vote NL rules.”

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 10:  Starting pitcher Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Seattle Mariners in the first inning at Safeco Field on August 10, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
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On Thursday afternoon, Rays pitcher Chris Archer asked his Twitter followers, “Lots swirling around what needs to be changed about the game of baseball. What do y’all want to see changed, if anything, & why?”

Tigers ace Justin Verlander responded:

To that, Archer said:

For what it’s worth, Verlander hasn’t been much of a hitter. In 47 career plate appearances, he has three singles and no extra-base hits. And if the AL did get rid of the DH rule, the Tigers would have nowhere to put Victor Martinez. Verlander, though, would have an easier time pitching to opposing pitchers rather than their DH’s.

Rusney Castillo disappoints again by not running out a routine grounder

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 18:  Rusney Castillo #38 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after he was caught off third base for the third out of the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 18, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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The Red Sox inked Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract back in August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.