There are few things so American as ballplayers. Rife with tradition, baseball has delighted Americans for over a century and all of it-every bit- serves as a reminder as to why we love the game.
The smell of the food mixing with the sound of a crack of the bat and a crowd going wild all mixes into a hearty amalgamation of Americana and it delights even in this age of steroid abuse and concrete ballparks bereft of nostalgia.
Of course, there is another sight that has long been engrained into the game: the sight of a ballplayer, cheek bulged, watching the game intensely poised at the edge of the dugout and spitting his tobacco.
Sadly, that will no longer happen in one of America’s most-beloved stadiums as the city of Boston has banned the use of chewing tobacco.
The supposed reasoning? “For our children.”
The city of Boston has banned the use of all chewing tobacco products in all city ballparks, including the venerated Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox.
Players who violate this ban will face a $250 fine per infraction.
Boston is the second major city to enact such a ban, after San Francisco, and Los Angeles is considering a ban as well.
The ban affects all ballparks where places where professional, collegiate, high school or amateur sports are played.
Fenway will soon be riddled with signs reminding people of the ban and these signs will infest “dugouts, bullpens, training rooms, locker rooms, press boxes, television and radio broadcast booths, and bathrooms throughout the sports venues.”
The ban was signed by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh last week and Walsh defended the ban as all nanny-staters typically do by asserting that the ban if “for our children.”
“The consequences of smokeless tobacco are real and can be devastating. We’re doing the right thing for our children and I look forward to continuing on the path to making Boston a leader in healthy and active living,” Walsh said.
Already, several players are complaining of the ban, including David Ortiz who is often seen during games with a bulge in his cheek and Red Sox manager John Farrell, who admits that he dipped during his playing days.
“It’s a nasty habit, but it’s one of those traditions in baseball,” Farrell stated.
Nobody should be surprised to discover that chewing tobacco is unhealthy. That’s not the point. The fact is that we have a ball club filled with adults who are entitled to make their own choices in life, but are now disallowed from engaging in a legal activity that has occurred for over a century and is a part of the tradition of the game.
There are few things so dangerous as a government who rules under the principle that “government knows best.”
When I was a kid, my friends and I bought shredded bubble gum and placed it in our cheeks like the pros. We spit and pretended that we were Nolan Ryans and Ken Griffey, Jrs. We knew the difference between bubble gum and chewing tobacco because our parents educated us and maintained oversight over our activities.
We did not need government to save us from the big, bad ballplayers and their unhealthy habits; we grew up just fine.