HBO's "Real Sports" has some interesting-sounding segment topics coming up on Tuesday night's episode, including one on chewing tobacco.
Here are excerpts the network sent:
Host Jon Frankel voiceover: You might find it dirty, messy or downright gross … but chewing tobacco – or “Dip” as it’s known… is as much a part of big-time baseball as Cracker Jacks…the national anthem…or the 7th inning stretch.
About a third of Major Leaguers chew tobacco, by most accounts, even though it’s been proven to cause cancer and other serious problems. That number, however, could soon be zero.
You see, a battle is brewing over whether or not to ban chewing tobacco in Major League games altogether. (It is banned in the minor leagues)
For starters, big-time players are beginning to talk about their chew habits…like Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who said he thought his recent mouth cancer was linked to his dipping habit.
Last month Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig vowed to push for a ban. Now he has to get the Players Association to agree as they negotiate their new contract.
And even Congress got into the act last summer, holding hearings on the issue.
ESPN commentator Bobby Valentine, former manager of the New York Mets, always tried to hide it when he dipped.
Bobby Valentine: "I didn't want my kid to see me doin' it. I didn't want my wife to know I did it. She was a dental hygienist, you know, and God forbid, she'd hit me over the head.
“I was kind of a closet dipper, you know. And who knows why I did it. I can't figure it out."
Now he says dip should be kicked out of the game for good. If baseball can ban smoking from dugouts, they can ban chew as well. He says the players and their union need to step up to the plate.
Jon Frankel: “Why do you think the players association has resisted so much on this?”
Bobby Valentine: "Well, because it's a personal right for anyone. It's hard to legislate intelligence and it's hard to legislate personal hygiene."
Mark DeRosa of the SF Giants: “It’s a pressure-filled game. If it’s something that calms me down, I’m a grown man. I want to be able to use it.”
Mark DeRosa, outfielder for the World Series champion San Francisco Giants, has been dipping for 15 years.
Frankel: "Kids out there they want to be like Mark DeRosa. And they see that he’s doing it.”
Mark DeRosa: “I like to think parents have a way of influencing children more than we do. But sometimes not. So, I understand. It’s a disgusting habit. It’s obviously bad for you.”
Truth is, even if chew is banned in the majors, enforcing that ban may be another story altogether…just ask Ike Davis of the New York Mets, who started dipping at 16.
Ike Davis: "I mean it’s gonna be tough. I’m gonna be trying to sneak it out there anyway. You know, it’s just because I’ve been playing baseball and chewing for a long time. So.."
Jon Frankel: “So, you think even if they were able to successfully ban it, you’d find a way because it’s part of your routine, at this point?”
Davis: “Yeah, I mean, for sure.”