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.
The Rangers will not sign free agent reliever Seung-hwan Oh after all. Reports from MLB.com’s TR Sullivan indicate that negotiations were brought to a halt after a physical issue was found with the pitcher. While the specifics have yet to be released, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News says the issue was revealed on an MRI of the right-hander’s arm.
Oh was thought to be in talks with the Rangers last week, though a deal was never officially announced by the club. The 35-year-old righty is fresh off of a two-year run with the Cardinals, during which he posted a cumulative 39 saves, 2.85 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.2 SO/9 in 139 innings. He struggled with consistency in his sophomore season, however, and finished 2017 with a disappointing 4.10 ERA and 4.44 FIP in 62 appearances for the team.
While Oh hasn’t experienced any setbacks with his arm in the majors so far, he does have a history of prior injuries during his time in KBO. He sustained a shoulder injury in 2009 and underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow in 2010. It’s possible that the Rangers saw an entirely different problem on the MRI, but clearly it was enough to give them strong reservations about inking the righty to a $2.75+ million deal. It’s still possible that another of Oh’s suitors will offer him a contract prior to Opening Day; the Giants were rumored to be interested in the veteran reliever, among other teams, though their recent acquisition of lefty reliever Tony Watson will likely take them out of the running now.