Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.

Tony Gwynn was using smokeless tobacco in his final days

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Over at Sports Illustrated, Andrew Lawrence has a story about the late Tony Gwynn’s final days before dying from cancer.

Most of it involves Gwynn’s smokeless tobacco habit which he believed gave him the cancer which killed him. His family believes it too and, as we recently noted, filed a lawsuit against tobacco companies claiming the same. As we also noted, and as Lawrence’s article notes, there have been no observed cases of the sort of cancer which killed Gwynn linked with smokeless tobacco use, so everyone’s belief on this matter is extraordinarily challenged by available medical science.

Still, Gwynn believed it and, Lawrence notes, Gwynn continued to dip snuff until he died all the same, hiding it in cans of synthetic snuff and sneaking to convenience stores to buy it where the clerks tried to talk him out of it. Related to his cancer or not, it’s a sad tale of addiction which puts the dangers of smokeless tobacco into stark relief.

The story is not all gloom. Much of it involves detailing Gwynn’s time as a San Diego State’s baseball coach, a job he held for 12 years. It always surprised me and heartened me that Gwynn, who had no financial need to work and who could’ve spent his retirement on the banquet circuit or in lucrative media gigs like so many other Hall of Famers do, continued to work his tail off until the very end.

He was a man who followed his passions, that’s for sure.

Madison Bumgarner hit a monster homer

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The Giants are facing the Braves today. Madison Bumgarner is on the hill. Unfortunately for the Braves, he’s also in the batter’s box. I say unfortunately, because Bumgarner is the rare pitcher who is a serious home run threat. He had 12 in his career coming into today.

Now he has 13, as he smacked one off of Braves starter Aaron Blair in the 5th. And it wasn’t a cheapie. It was estimated at 411 feet and went deep into the left field stands. Watch:

 

Blair was handing out a lot of homers today. Joe Panik and Buster Posey each hit one as well. Neither of theirs went as far, though. Nope, MadBum’s was most mighty.

 

Video: Jason Kipnis takes out ketchup in the Indians hot dog race

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A lot of times those mascot races between innings at the ballpark are rigged. I know, I’m shocked too, but they are.

Sometimes you’ll see two mascots gang up on a third. Sometimes they’ll get outside help, professional wrestling-style, to sabotage whoever is in the lead. There’s just no integrity to that whole business. Someone ought to do something about it because corruption in all forms is bad.

Sometimes though there are actual accidents. Like when the race goes on so long that it interferes with the players taking the field in between innings and your star second baseman runs into the freakin’ ketchup mascot during the hot dog race:

It’s all fun and games as long as the underpaid intern in the hot dog suit hits the deck. If Kipnis tore his ACL we’d be having a different conversation, I’m sure.