Craig Calcaterra

New York Mets third baseman Juan Uribe uses chewing tobacco during batting practice before the Mets played against the Miami Marlins in a baseball game in Miami, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)
Associated Press

Bill introduced to ban smokeless tobacco in Yankee Stadium and Citi Field


Baseball’s push to rid the sport of smokeless tobacco has slowly increased in intensity over the years. It has banned minor leaguers from using the stuff and has passed rules — not stringently enforced it appears to the casual observer — prohibiting major leaguers from using it during games or when cameras are present. According to the New York Times they have also instituted a program intended to help big leaguers who want to quit, which is laudable.

But perhaps a bigger incentive to keep big leaguers from using the stuff are state or local ordinances which outlaw smokeless tobacco use in ballparks. We’ve talked about San Francisco and in California as a whole passing laws to this effect. Now, in that Times story, we learn that New York is set to do the same:

Now, a member of the New York City Council, Corey Johnson, is set to introduce a bill Friday that will include language that would ban smokeless tobacco from Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, along with other public arenas in the five boroughs.

“If New York passes this bill, and I think it will, it moves us dramatically closer to the day when smokeless tobacco is prohibited in all major league cities,” said Matthew Myers, the president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The Yankees and Mets have indicated that they support the bill. As they should given the total lack of any upside whatsoever to their ballplayers using smokeless tobacco. If nothing else, on a practical level, it relieves the league and the union from having to negotiate and enforce rules about this stuff in collective bargaining and, instead, allows them all to simply say “hey, don’t break the law at the ballpark.”

In a larger sense, I appreciate that there are some sticky considerations when it comes to regulating the otherwise legal behavior of consenting adults, but I don’t lose much sleep over tobacco regulation in public places. People talk about slippery slopes and the like, but tobacco is different and far more dangerous than large sodas.

With cigarettes this is obvious given the secondhand smoke concerns. With smokeless tobacco it’s less clear, but it’s no accident that young ballplayers — Babe Ruth league and high school players — use the stuff in greater numbers than their peers. It’s purely emulative behavior. Having a chaw or a dip in has long been part of the “look like a ballplayer” thing, and any effort to eradicate that or, in effect, have major league ballplayers endorsing that is a good move.

Libertarians can register their dissents in the comments.

Brothers unite in the Caribbean Series

Atlanta Braves' Adonis Garcia (24) during singles on a line drive to center field hitting in Michael Bourn during the first inning of the second baseball game of a doubleheader, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Associated Press

We don’t pay much attention to winter league baseball around here, but once in a while something neat happens. In that “four saddest words” thread from yesterday (great job, by the way everyone, I laughed at all of them, even the ones making fun of me), reader bajamex hipped me to one of those neat stories.

Braves third baseman Adonis Garcia defected from Cuba in 2011. He is playing winter ball in Venezuela this year and right now is playing in the Caribbean Series for Venezuela’s Tigres de Aragua. Cuba, for the third year after an extended absence, is in the series once again. Jose Adolis Garcia is Adonis Garcia’s younger brother. He’s only 22 now and was 16 when Adonis defected. While they had kept in touch by telephone and played online video games they have not seen each other in that time.

They got to see each other and sat down for an interview with Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today prior to their two teams playing. That was nice, but reader bajamex’s description of what happened in the game was even nicer. Here’s his comment:

Adonis García left Cuba in January of 2011, played in the winter league of Venezuela and was signed by the Yankees and released in 2015 only to be signed by Los Bravos de Atlanta to play in MLB.

Today, he was playing third base for the Venezuelan representative while a cuban right fielder hit a screamer that turned out to be a triple for the batter-runner who exchanged a coy smile with Adonis… the batter’s name? José Adolis García, the brother of Adonis García who last saw his brother Adolis in 2011 when the younger García was a kid. Later Adolis scored in a groundout but it gave the García brothers time to exchange a few words and nothing more, since fraternizing with the rival is not well viewed as in MLB, not only among Cuban teams but overall in hispanoamerican baseball during a game.

I’m sure hugging and talking and giving that interview meant the world for the Garcia brothers. But I bet that moment on the field meant something different and maybe even more special too.

Here’s to thawing relationship, reunited families and, if the scouts are correct, the younger Garcia brother joining the older in the big leagues in the not too distant future.

Two minor leaguers suspended

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Fresh from the police blotter, we learn that both San Diego Padres minor league pitcher Ryan Butler and Oakland Athletics minor league pitcher Sean Murphy  have received 50-game suspensions without pay following a second positive test for a drug of abuse.

Butler, a 33rd round pick of the A’s in 2010, is currently on the roster of the Single-A Lake Elsinore Storm of the California League. Murphy, a 7th round pick of the Padres in 2014, is currently on the roster of the Double-A Midland RockHounds of the Texas League.

Since they’re minor leaguers, the cost of not paying paid for 50 games is *mashes hands on calculator* like, $11 or so.