by TOM WEPPEL
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
CHEWING/SPITTING IN BASEBALL
Now that the Basketball and Hockey seasons are completed (NBA/NHL), our attention can turn to America’s pasttime (if that is indeed still your own belief)…Baseball!
And Major League Baseball is already in full swing, as June will complete the third month of their season.
Watching MLB games on TV, there are certain prevalent tendencies of so many players, depending on what you’re looking for. And there is one action that you can almost be guaranteed to see no matter what the case, no matter who the teams are, and no matter who the players are.
What is it? Chewing and spitting.
Indeed…without question, you can and will easily find a number of guys chewing and or spitting something while playing their game of baseball, especially in the Major Leagues.
Call it a tradition if you wish. I tend to lean more towards considering it a pretty nasty habit. I say that, not being the cleanest guy in the world! But hey! I’m a single male! What else am I gonna do?
Anyway, once I realized I was going to write something about this, the more and more I’ve been tracking it, just to see who does what, and how often. I guess what amazes me moreso than anything is how baseball players are able to continuously chew and/or spit during an entire game, no matter what they’re doing!
That’s right! Its not just on the bench, or waiting for an at-bat…players do their thing non-stop, on or off the field! Even during action and their involvement, players are doing some sort of chewing or spitting during games.
And that alone kills me! Why? Because most of the time, in no other sport, do we see the athletes operating or performing with something in their mouth! I also know that during my time working out and participating in physical activity, could I even imagine the possibility of chewing some glob of whatever!
I’d probably end up swallowing most of it, and that alone gives me the creeps! I can imagine it being the same scenario if guys were chewing in the NFL, the NHL, or the NBA! It would be ridiculous!
Even in golf and tennis, do we NOT see the athletes doing any chewing. The PGA and ATP Tours don’t even allow that kind of activity during play. Seriously…can you imagine watching the U.S. Open golf tournament, and seeing the players spitting after shots, between shots, and while lining up a putt!? How about watching Rafael Nadal playing a Wimbledon tennis match with a glob of gum in his mouth, serving and volleying? It’d almost be impossible!
But that is EXACTLY the way it is in Major League Baseball games! Watch the New York Yankees, and you’ll see outfielder Nick Swisher ALWAYS with a lump of something in his cheek! What that something is, I have no idea. It must be something good, or else he wouldn’t have it glued into his mouth the entire time he’s playing!
3B Alex Rodriguez always has a pocketful of seeds (probably sunflower), getting them into his mouth, then spitting the shells out all the time…even while playing! He’s not the only one, but A-Rod is the one we all know about because HE gets the camera time!
So, players do the seeds, but they also do the bubble gum. Cincinnati Reds P Travis Wood chews gum while pitching for the Reds. Watching him do it can almost create self-anxiety!
Managers do this as well. Yankees Manager Joe Girardi chews globs of gum all the time. It allows him to keep his mouth moving while watching games and make decisions as to what to do.
Of course, along with the chewing comes the spitting, and that is done constantly by everyone, on the field, in the dugout, during at-bats…there are no rules to spitting in baseball!
And while seeds and gum seem to be the choices, you will also see an occasional guy or two, such as Reds Manager Dusty Baker, do his job with a tooth pick in his mouth. God help him if he ever swallowed that thing!
One item you will notice that is NOT being used is tobacco. Seems not only has that been slightly banned, it has also been realized how bad it can be in the long run. Back in the day, players chewed tobacco constantly, spitting out tons of juice! That is not the case any more.
If there are certainly guys on the baseball field who usually don’t do any chewing or spitting, I guess it would be the home plate umpires and the team catchers! Those guys have much more on their minds, calling games or pitches, then thinking about the seeds or gum in their mouths!
So, next time you’re watching Major League Baseball, take a minute and simply watch and see who is doing what, on the field, and off. After a while, you might think it gets kinda crazy!
LOS ANGELES KINGS/NHL
When the NHL playoffs cranked up, at the end of the regular season, there weren’t many hockey fans…or sports fans, for that matter…in Los Angeles that had an interest in the L. A. Kings. The Kings sneaked in to the playoffs as the #8 seed in the Western Conference, and even the most rabid of Kings fans had any degree of excitement or anticipation for them to win.
Then the Kings came out and defeated the #1 seed Vancouver Canucks, the #3 seed Phoenix Coyotes, and the #2 seed St. Louis Blues, all in very convincing fashion. Winning those three series as they did certainly got sports fans in L.A. surprisingly interested.
And now, after defeating the New Jersey Devils to win the Stanley Cup, the Kings are the dominant franchise in Southern California, without question.
In many other NHL towns, such as Detroit, Chicago, New York, Philly, or any of the Canadian cities, an NHL Championship would be paramount…certainly an event worthy of heavy press, generating all kinds of excitement! Every player on a team would be easily known, turning into a rock star!
But that is not the way things are working in Los Angeles! While there are plenty of sports fans who will tell you they are excited and totally into the Kings, they most likely couldn’t give you the names of many of the players on the team! After the Kings won, there was plenty of bedlam and enjoyment in the city. Yet here we are a week or two after the Cup Finals, and most L.A. sports fans are now into the Dodgers and Angels!
My point is this…despite the Kings triumph, hockey is NOT that popular in Los Angeles, and the team has NOT generated all kinds of interest, like a lot of people might have suspected.
That said, I will be damn curious to see how things will go for the Kings when they crank things up for the 2012-13 season. My feeling is there will not be any rampant excitement or passion in their games, like we have seen in the past in Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago, etc.
Whether that makes them worthy or not of relocating is another item, only worth discussing later on. For now, we will just let the Kings team revel in their push through the playoffs, all in doing a great job to claim their Stanley Cup title…