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.