Craig Calcaterra

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Library of Congress

The A’s had to fly home on a Giants-themed plane yesterday


The Oakland A’s are definitely the little brother to the San Francisco Giants when it comes to Bay Area baseball politics. It wasn’t always the case — the A’s have had great moments in their history at times when the Giants weren’t doing so hot — but ever since the Giants got their new ballpark and the A’s ballpark began to crumble, it’s clear who truly rules baseball in that area.

I don’t feel like A’s fans — at least the ones I know — have an inferiority complex about this. They sort of view it the way punk rockers viewed, I dunno, Pink Floyd in the 1970s. “The uncool people can have them!” they sort of say. “We like our own little thing. It’s better!” Of course that’s a complicated stance too, and there is definitely a sense that comparisons and, at times, jealousy and resentment fuel these sorts of dynamics. Punks didn’t want to fill arenas, necessarily, and A’s fans don’t want to be like the Giants, but there’s some . . . baggage there.

This sort of story is the kind of baggage that I mean. The one in which the A’s, flying home from Seattle to Oakland after yesterday’s game, had to ride in a charter plane that was painted up with San Francisco Giants branding:


Led Zeppelin had their own plane. Their name was painted on the side of it too. Imagine the Ramones having to take that someplace.

Deep Thoughts: the Diamondbacks’ plan is starting off a bit rocky

Arizona Diamondbacks Shelby Miller reacts after giving up a solo home run against the Chicago Cubs during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, April 10, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Associated Press

This is not one of those posts where, after a week of games, I am actually wringing my hands and worrying about anything. Or, since I don’t really give a rip about the Dbacks, not pretending to worry about anything on behalf of their fans. It’s just one of those “huh, look at that” kinds of things. It will even out soon.

But the Dbacks traded a lot for Shelby Miller and they’re paying a lot for Zack Greinke, and so far, this is how it’s going:

Greinke’s first start: 4 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 2K, 3 HR;
Greinke’s second start: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 8K, 0 HR;

Miller’s first start: 6 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 2K, 3 HR;
Miller’s second start: 5 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 6K, 2 HR

Combined, that’s 31 hits, 21 earned runs and eight homers in 21 innings. Works out to a 9.00 ERA and a 1.81 WHIP. Which is not good.

It’ll get better. But hoo boy, it’s hard to see how it could’ve been worse.

The Orioles are the first visiting team to deal with Boston’s smokeless tobacco ban

Baltimore Orioles' Chris Davis (19) celebrates after hitting a three-run home run off Oakland Athletics pitcher Jesse Chavez in the first inning of a baseball game Monday, Aug. 3, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

There’s an article in the Baltimore Sun today about how the Orioles are the first road team to face the smokeless tobacco ban in Boston when they face the Red Sox. As the article notes, San Francisco passed the first such law last year, it takes effect this season, and games in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles will have such bans this year as well. Next year it will be all of California.

We know the contours of the debate by now. The dangers of smokeless tobacco vs. personal freedom of adults to do otherwise legal things. But I still think there’s a part of the smokeless tobacco debate that some people are simply not getting. At least not fully. The Orioles players quoted in the article all say “yeah, we get it,” but there’s also a “but . . .” to it all. Like this:

“There’s a triple-bacon cheeseburger,” [Darren] O’Day said. “Do you really need that? No, you don’t, but the government’s not going to outlaw it.

“I get it,” O’Day said. “We get it. But as I said before, there’s some personal liberties that I just don’t think should be infringed upon. I don’t dip. I don’t smoke. I smoke a cigar once in a while. My dad lives in a community in Florida where you can’t smoke a cigar on your own back porch. To me, that just blows my mind.”

I’m against the soda bans and other regulations that reach into someone’s personal choices. Requiring information about calorie counts and whatever are fine as they’re just information, but the banning of otherwise legal conduct should not be done lightly. Let people have their triple cheeseburgers. Only when there is serious demonstrable harm to third parties, such as is the case with secondhand smoke, do actual bans make a ton of sense in my view.

But what O’Day and the others who say what he’s saying about smokeless tobacco are missing is that there is serious harm to third parties as a result of major league baseball players using smokeless tobacco: young baseball players. They absolutely emulate the use of big leaguers and use smokeless tobacco at rates far, far higher than other kids do.

“Think of the children” arguments almost always crumble upon looking at the data which shows that, rarely, do the things we worry about kids being exposed to actually harm kids. Video games, violent movies and things of that nature come to mind. We worry, but the actual threat is usually imaginary.

Not so with smokeless tobacco. Young players absolutely do it because they see big leaguers doing it. There is no other plausible explanation for the variation in rates of use between young ballplayers and other kids. Given that relationship, this isn’t a “ban the cheeseburgers” situation. No one is trying to save Darren O'Day or other ballplayers from themselves. They’re addressing an actually harmful thing.

If the major leaguers want to dip before and after the game, go for it. But taking it out of the ballparks is the right thing to do.

(h/t to DWolfe for the heads up)