Joe Maddon doesn’t like Chicago’s tobacco ban

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The Chicago City Council approved legislation on Wednesday that raises the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21 and increases taxes on tobacco products. Aldermen, on a voice vote, approved a ban on chewing tobacco at amateur and professional sporting events.

“What does Cubs manager Joe Maddon think?” you’re probably asking yourself. CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney has the skipper’s thoughts:

“I’m into personal freedoms,” Maddon said Wednesday at Surprise Stadium. “I don’t quite understand the point with all that. Just eradicate tobacco, period, if you’re going to go that route. I’m not into over-legislating the human race.

“I stopped chewing tobacco about 15 years ago. I’m glad that I did, because I think I feel better because of it. I know the pitfalls. But I’m into (educating) the masses and let everybody make their own decisions.

“Inherently, that’s what I’m about – (not telling) me what I can and cannot do as an adult.”

Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died in 2014 of salivary gland cancer, which he attributed to his use of chewing tobacco. Curt Schilling, a Hall of Fame candidate, attributed his mouth cancer to using chewing tobacco as well.

It’s certainly in everyone’s best interest to have chewing tobacco banned, but Maddon wasn’t alone in espousing a libertarian worldview. Starter John Lackey said “grown men should have their own choices.” He added, “People in the stands can have a beer, but we can’t do what we want? That’s a little messed up.”

Chicago’s new law goes into effect in 90 days. The penalty is $250 for a first-time violation, $500 for a second, and at least $2,500 for every other violation that occurs within one year of the first offense.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.