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.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.