That's right, we're talking about chewing tobacco and dip.
Let the intelligent discourse begin.
So is there a chance that puffy-cheeked players will soon become a thing of the past? The idea isn't without precedent. Currently, smoking cigarettes in uniform while in public view is prohibited. Smokeless tobacco has been outlawed in the minors since 1993.
At a hearing Wednesday, House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, and Health Subcommittee chairman Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat, called on baseball and its players to agree to bar major leaguers from using chew, dip or similar products during games.
MLB executive VP Robert Manfred and MLB Players Association chief labor counsel David Prouty told lawmakers they agree that smokeless tobacco is harmful -- Manfred said a ban in the majors is "a laudable goal" -- but both pointed out that any ban would have to be agreed to through collective bargaining.
Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat, wondered aloud: "Why don't they just chew gum if they feel the need to chew something?"
While Waxman's comments are definitely a jumping-off point for discussion, Eshoo's question is sort of laughable. Comparing chew to gum is like comparing apples to oranges. For those of you smart enough to never try it, let me explain.
During his opening statement, Waxman said: "We don't let baseball players go stand out there in the field and drink beer. Major League Baseball won't allow them to step on the field and smoke cigarettes. So why should they be out there on the field -- in sight of all their fans on television and at the ballpark -- using smokeless tobacco?"
The reason players uses these things is that because it provides a buzz, much like smoking a cigarette. With repeated use, the severity of the buzz diminishes. Granted, it's probably just a habit at this point for many players, but gum is not going to provide the same mental and physical stimulation.
On the other hand, there is no denying the health concerns.
Maybe I'm in the minority and not socially responsible enough, but I have no problem with tobacco use during the game. However misguided, it just feels like part of the game. Plus, I'm not sure how it's affecting me. Of course, I don't have any kids to worry about picking up nasty habits.
"Why can't baseball and the players association right here get together and ban it? Take it off the field," former major leaguer Joe Garagiola said. "Tobacco is tobacco is tobacco. ... Get it out of our game."
Terry Pechacek of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Deborah Winn of the National Cancer Institute testified about the links between smokeless tobacco and cancer, and the addictiveness of smokeless tobacco. Pechacek said smokeless tobacco can cause oral cancer, pancreatic cancer and has been linked to fatal heart attacks.
Harvard professor Gregory Connolly said research shows about one-third of major leaguers report they use smokeless tobacco, and he says that contributes to use by youth in America.
What do you think?