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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.

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.