February 16, 2010
That campaign wasn't very successful, but the new Michigan law that will ban smoking in public places starting May 1 could eliminate that writerly crutch and send Leyland in search of nicotine gum.
That's because Detroit's Comerica Park qualifies as a public place and not even the man who led the Tigers to the 2006 World Series will get an exemption.
"Is it banned all over? Leyland asked.
When told that Comerica Park certainly would qualify as a public place, Leyland admitted it might create a dilemma.
"Really ... then I've got a problem," he laughed. "Houston, we've got a problem."
Leyland did say he would comply with the law.
"I'm not saying that I won't cheat once in awhile," he said. "I'm not going to lie."
I can't say for certain and it's possible I've added this detail in later years, but I seem to remember once seeing Leyland smoke in his office at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field, where smoking has been banned for several years. I have no idea if he knew it was banned or not.
What's relevant is that Leyland is a man who enjoys his cigarettes — "Sometimes smoking can be fantastic," he once said — and I remember that no one in that office cared that he was partaking in a pregame smoke. Like visiting the late Hunter S. Thompson and his firearms on Owl Farm, everyone knows there's an inherent risk in visiting a man in his element. What's more, we're all willing to take it. We're all adults here.
Look, I like all of these smoking bans. If they had been around in college, I would have saved hundreds of dollars on the Febreze I used to air out sweaters that I was too lazy to wash.
But there are exceptions to every rule and banning cigarettes from Leyland's office would be like banning swearing from Ozzie Guillen's. Just let the man keep smoking, Michigan.