Senators urge World Series tobacco ban

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Four U.S. Senators and the city health officials from St. Louis and Arlington, Texas sent letters to union head Michael Weiner, urging players to not use smokeless tobacco during the World Series.

Well, that ain’t happening, but it’s worth noting insofar as this is just the latest instance of public pressure on Major League Baseball over players’ use of tobacco.  The campaign is pretty orchestrated at this point, and it’s a campaign I support because I do think that a lot of kids start using smokeless tobacco because it’s seen as acceptable in baseball.

Of course, no one appeal is going to be effective in and of itself. But it was exactly these kinds of gestures and overall awareness/shaming campaigns that have led to a big, big reduction in tobacco use overall.  Laws and bans have played a big part in that, but stigmatizing tobacco use and getting minds and values to change over time has probably played a way bigger role.

I support a tobacco ban for baseball, but I doubt the league has the stomach to fight the union over tobacco use (and there isn’t a big percentage in it for MLB to begin with). But, at the very least, I bet if this sort of pressure keeps up, tobacco use will decrease among baseball players.

Report: Rays acquire Lucas Duda from the Mets

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MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that the Rays have acquired first baseman Lucas Duda from the Mets. The Mets will receive pitching prospect Drew Smith in return, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

Duda, 31, is batting .246/.347/.532 with 17 home runs and 37 RBI in 291 plate appearances for the Mets this season. He’ll provide a potent bat in the Rays’ lineup as they attempt to overcome their current 2.5-game deficit in the AL East.

Smith, 23, is the Rays’ No. 30 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He ascended from High-A to Triple-A already this season, posting an aggregate 1.60 ERA with a 40/9 K/BB ratio over 45 innings across four stops with High-A Lakeland (Tigers), High-A Charlotte (Rays), Double-A Montgomery, and Triple-A Durham.

Video: Blue Jays walk off against the Athletics again, this time with a grand slam

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The Blue Jays completed a four-game series sweep against the Athletics on Thursday afternoon and won their second consecutive game in walk-off fashion. Last night, the Jays went into the bottom of the ninth inning trailing 2-0, but a two-run home run by Justin Smoak followed by a solo home run from Kendrys Morales led to a 3-2 walk-off victory.

Thursday’s game was already interesting enough as starter Marcus Stroman, catcher Russell Martin, and manager John Gibbons were all ejected by home plate umpire Will Little. Despite the adversity, the Jays battled the A’s, tying the game at four apiece when Morales blasted a solo home run — his second of the game — in the bottom of the ninth inning. In the 10th inning, A’s reliever Liam Hendriks walked the bases loaded with two outs to bring up Steve Pearce. Pearce worked the count full before pulling a fastball down the left field line for a walk-off grand slam, giving the Jays an 8-4 victory to complete the sweep.

Before Pearce, the last Jays hitter to hit a walk-off grand slam was Gregg Zaun on September 6, 2008 against the Rays, per SportsNet Stats.