In the aftermath of Tony Gwynn's death, there's been talk about whether Major League Baseball should make new rules about players using smokeless tobacco. Gwynn, who died last week at 54 after battling salivary gland cancer, attributed his condition to years of chewing tobacco, a very common practice in baseball.
While the game and its players continue to mourn Gwynn, it doesn't sound like there will be any rule changes to limit tobacco use. The thinking goes, as Mets infielder Daniel Murphy told the Wall Street Journal last week: "We're old enough to make decisions, and we know what the final outcome of this is. It's not news if something happens to you."
What happened to Gwynn, however, was enough to make one player reconsider the tobacco he's been putting in his mouth since high school. Addison Reed, the closer for the Arizona Diamondbacks, told MLB.com he quit tobacco after hearing the news of Gwynn's death. That very day, in fact. Reed played his college ball at San Diego State, where Gwynn was his coach. So he was more than just an admirer of Gwynn's prowess as a hitter.
From MLB.com's Steve Gilbert:
Reed arrived at Chase Field [last Monday] and gathered the seven cans of smokeless tobacco that he had in his locker and dumped them in the trash. Then he took the two he had in his car and disposed of them as well.
"It's one of those things where I've done it for so long it's just become a habit, a really bad habit," Reed said of using smokeless tobacco. "It was something I always told myself I would quit, like next month, and the next thing you know it's been six or seven years."
MLB does have some tobacco restrictions in place: Players can't have chewing tobacco tins in their pockets and can't use it during TV interviews. Teams aren't allowed to provide it to players. Smokeless tobacco isn't allowed in the minor leagues. The player's union even says that it discourages its members' use of smokeless tobacco, but there's no indication it has any plans to go beyond that.
If baseball is going to curb its smokeless tobacco use after Gwynn's death — which, let's face it, doesn't all sound that likely — it's going to be one Addison Reed at a time.
BLS H/N: Deadspin
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