Congress is butting into baseball again. This time: tobacco

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tobacco.jpgCan someone tell me why Congress has nothing better to do than this?

MLBPA chief labor counsel David Prouty is among
the witnesses who submitted written testimony ahead of Wednesday’s
hearing before a House subcommittee about the use of smokeless tobacco
by baseball players. Subcommittee chairman Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat, says he wants to know why smokeless tobacco is banned in the minors but allowed in the majors.

Smoking, chewing and dipping is beyond stupid, no one should do it and if I was running baseball I’d consider every possible means at my disposal to keep players from doing it. But contrary to the way everyone acts in this country, it’s still legal, ballplayers are still adults and as long as they’re not harming anyone else with it Congress should keep the heck out of the matter.

And before anyone offers the most obvious retort, allow me to note that my wife and I are raising our kids ourselves. We’re not depending on ballplayers to do it, and we certainly don’t need Congress to do it either.  If my boy sees a ballplayer with a chaw in and asks me what he’s doing I’m going to be honest and say “He’s being stupid, son. Many adults, even the athletes, can be very, very stupid at times.”

Suggestion to Subcommittee chairman Frank Pallone: Go fix the financial sector or the elections laws or the environment and let the shortstop dip his Copenhagen and get jaw cancer and everything in peace.

Dan Straily suspended five games, Don Mattingly one for throwing at Buster Posey

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Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that Marlins pitcher Dan Straily has been suspended five games and Don Mattingly one game for throwing intentionally at Giants catcher Buster Posey on Tuesday in San Francisco. Straily plans to appeal his suspension, so he will be allowed to take his normal turn through the rotation until that matter is settled.

Everything started on Monday, when the Marlins rallied in the ninth inning against closer Hunter Strickland. That included a game-tying single from Lewis Brinson, who pumped his fist and yelled in celebration. Strickland took exception, jawing at Brinson who was on third base when the right-hander was taken out of the game. Strickland went into the clubhouse and punched a door, breaking his hand.

The next day, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez hit Brinson with a fastball, which prompted warnings for both teams. Mattingly came out to argue with the umpires about the fairness of issuing warnings right then and there. On his way back to the dugout, Mattingly apparently said, “You’re next” to Posey, who was standing around home plate. The next inning, Straily hit Posey on the arm with a fastball, which led to immediate ejections for both him and Mattingly.

Neither Rodriguez nor Giants manager Bruce Bochy were reprimanded, which is ludicrous because it was plainly obvious Rodriguez was throwing at Brinson. But neither team had been issued warnings. Essentially, Major League Baseball is giving free reign for teams to get their revenge pitches in. Furthermore, Straily’s five-game suspension is hardly a deterrent for throwing at a hitter. The Marlins could simply give Straily an extra day of rest and it’s like he was never suspended at all.

Beanball wars are bad for baseball. It puts players at risk for obvious reasons. When players have to miss time due to avoidable injury, self-inflicted (in the case of Strickland) or not (if, for example, Posey had a hand or wrist broken from Straily’s pitch), the game suffers because it becomes an inferior product. That’s, of course, second behind the simple fact that throwing at a player is a tremendously childish way to handle a disagreement. When aimed intentionally at another human being, a baseball is a weapon. That’s especially true when it’s in the hands of someone who has been trained to throw anywhere from 90 to 100 MPH.

Commisioner Rob Manfred has spent a lot of time trying to make the game of baseball more appealing, such adding pitch clocks and limiting mound visits. He should spend some time addressing the throwing-at-batters problem.