Baseball Players Are Closer To Athletes Now

Baseball is my favorite game but my kids hate it.

Nothing seems to sway their opinion.  To my dismay, each of my kids despise their dad’s first love.

They did not come around to loving baseball after seeing my joy as the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.

My kids see no enjoyment in my efforts to bond over a quick game of catch in the front yard.

My oldest, in fact, takes the hate to a new level by pointing out three ways in which baseball players are comparatively substandard athletes:

(1) Baseball players take a disproportionate number of breaks during a game.

I counter by saying that baseball is “the thinking man’s game” and “breaks” are designed for building strategy.

(2) Ball players are out of shape.

My son developed a liking for the San Francisco Giants a few years ago and, as a result, took notice of third baseman Pablo Sandoval’s pudgy physique – noting that no soccer player could as adequately double as Santa in the off-season. 01-baseball-tobacco-w190-h190

I argued that having the athletic ability to slug a 100 mile-per-hour fastball over 350 feet in spite of carrying a few too many pounds actually proves how gifted an athlete Sandoval is.

(3) Pro baseball players can chew tobacco while they play.

During this year’s World Series, my son noticed three consecutive camera shots focused on players with cheeks full of chew and spitting in a nasty brown-color.

I had no counter for this argument – until earlier this week.

Major League Baseball has finally, and thankfully, outlawed the use of smokeless tobacco in the game.

My son’s third justification for hating my favorite game will be abandoned and I’m so glad.

Eradicating tobacco from baseball completely will still take some time.  The estimated twenty-five to thirty percent of pro players that use smokeless tobacco can continue to chew under the new rule.  The ban on smokeless tobacco in MLB’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement only applies to those players with no previous big league experience.

Critics of the new policy are quick to point out that it is still unclear how the Commissioner’s Office will enforce this rule and what the penalties will be for violations.

I would have liked baseball to take a stronger stance on the issue and have gotten rid of tobacco altogether – immediately.  The rule is not perfect, but it shows progress – giving me a better shot of slowly drawing my soccer-loving kids closer to the game I love.

Baseball may very well have already lost my 10 year-old son and the majority of his classmates, but these rule changes give nostalgic, baseball lovers like me a reason for optimism.

In twenty years, when my baseball-hating son’s kids come to visit their old Grandpa, maybe they’ll bring their ball gloves, wear their Cubs hats, and beg me to have a catch in the front yard.

I will, no doubt, happily oblige.


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