Chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit

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Just about every ballpark you go to plays that Blake Shelton song, “Boys ’round here” during warmups or batting practice:

Yeah the boys ’round here
Drinking that ice cold beer
Talkin’ ’bout girls, talkin’ ’bout trucks
Runnin’ them red dirt roads out, kicking up dust
The boys ’round here
Sending up a prayer to the man upstairs
Backwoods legit, don’t take no s**t
Chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit

Not my sort of song, but it’s a freakin’ ear worm anyway. That last line is the one that sticks in my head all the damn time too. I’ve found myself driving around down here going “Chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit” at random times. Just awful.

But definitely appropriate for ballparks. Because as Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reports today, smokeless tobacco use among ballplayers is still pretty popular:

Smokeless tobacco use stubbornly remains a part of baseball, even though Major League Baseball has tried to discourage its use for the last few years because it is known to increase the risk of cancer. While smokeless tobacco use is not as prevalent in baseball as it was several years ago, a survey of the 58 Red Sox players invited to spring training this year found 21 who admitted to using it.

Abraham talks to David Ortiz, Jonny Gomes and many other Red Sox who talk about when they use and why. It’s a really interesting read, mostly because the players tend to talk about how they don’t really like the stuff, don’t do it all the time and aren’t addicted, yet they do it all the same, mostly out of routine. Because, I guess anyway, doing something you don’t particularly like out of habit … is not addiction?

Anyway, go check it out. Good story.

Aaron Judge homers off of Max Scherzer, American League takes a 1-0 lead

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Despite the earlier rain, the All-Star Game got underway on time and following the usual pregame festivities Max Scherzer took the hill to face the American League.

Scherzer did great in the first inning, striking out Mookie Betts and Jose Altuve and then, following a walk to Mike Trout and giving up a single to J.D. Matinez, retired Jose Ramirez on a weak popup. Scherzer was cooing with gas: the reigning Cy Young winner had not thrown a pitch as fast as 98 m.p.h. all season, but he threw three of those during his scoreless first.

Chris Sale‘s work in the bottom half was more about nasty stuff than mere heat. Following a leadoff single allowed to Javier Baez he got Nolan Arenado to fly out to left, struck out Paul Goldschmidt on a nasty slider and then got Freddie Freeman out via a fly to left.

Aaron Judge led off the second. The same Aaron Judge someone wrote today could be trade bait if the Yankees felt so inclined. Which, um, OK, that was dumb anyway, but it looked even dumber when Judge muscled Scherzer’s second pitch — a letter-high fastball — out to left field with many, many feet to spare for a homer.

Scherzer got the rest of the A.L. side, but the damage had been done. The American League leads 1-0 after an inning and a half.