What has you hooked?

Jun. 24, 2014 @ 08:47 AM

In order to spit brown, I dipped raisins.

Big League Chew bubble gum was an option, but it wouldn’t have allowed me to spit brown.

So I dipped raisins. Of course, that’s when I was a kid and dentists weren’t telling parents that healthy raisins were as bad as gummy bears.

Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn had something way worse than cavities. He had cancer and before dying said smokeless tobacco gave it to him. He admittedly was addicted to the stuff, apparently like the baseball player the other night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

Smokeless tobacco isn’t allowed in Minor League Baseball. But after the Syracuse Chiefs beat up on the Bulls, I saw one of the sluggers mingling in front of the ball park who either had gotten hit in the mouth with a knuckle ball or was nursing a big wad of smokeless tobacco between his cheek and gums, because the game was over and he had to pack one.

Gwynn’s death renewed the push get smokeless tobacco out of Major League Baseball, and that’s fine if the issue is addiction, as opposed to role models.

My daddy was my hero. I was his catcher, a little boy in the back yard squatting and providing a target for his brutal fast balls. I caught everything he threw at me. Daddy was my role model, and I made it my business to impress him.

But I didn’t care a thing about his fondness for Seagrams gin, and his Winstons didn’t wow me.

I did desire to spit brown, though, so there is an argument to be made about the influence of folks more famous than my old man.

Back in the 1920s, America had it right about alcohol. But we presumably evolved under the notion that grown-ups can make adult decisions. So alcohol sales eventually were legalized, and getting drunk became America’s favorite pastime.

Laws are passed to make stuff illegal in order to protect people. That’s why heroin is illegal. It does bodily harm.

So does smokeless tobacco. Yet folks keep trying to stand on the weak crutch that Major League Baseball players should be allowed to dip snuff during games because there’s no rule against it.

Uh, make a rule! Protect people.

The legalization of something doesn’t necessarily get at its legitimization. Gwynn would have told you as much.

It’s about addictions. To cocaine. To caffeine. To playing Candy Crush on Facebook.

Something’s got you hooked.

Herald-Sun sports writer John McCann is on Twitter: @johntmccann.