Of course you did. It's only the most well-known fact about the man and, strangely, he's probably the most well-known smoker (Barack says he's quitting) in a nation of 46 million of them. If you're a baseball fan, you've probably read at least a hundred articles about the man that made at least a passing reference to crushing cigarette butts, the most recent one coming in Monday's USA Today.
The ashtray is filled with cigarette butts and the pack of Marlboros is sitting next to an empty bag of chips inside the visiting manager's office at Arizona's Chase Field, but Jim Leyland is just getting started.
The Detroit Tigers manager takes off his spikes, opens a new box of cigarettes, lights up to ease the pain of another defeat Sunday and starts to talk about the most exasperating season of his 17-year managerial career.
Yup, seems about the right opening for a Leyland story.
OK, understand that I'm not singling out Bob Nightengale here. I'll admit to leaning on that cliche crutch before and if you've written about Leyland in the past 20 years, you're probably just as guilty. When Leyland dies, it's likely some obit writer will spend the first four grafs on his proclivity for a post-pitching change cigarette before getting to mentioning his World Series title with the Marlins or the fact he's one of only seven managers to win a pennant in both leagues.
Leyland doesn't help matters much, either. He used to smoke in the dugout and Deadspin has him quoted as once saying "Sometimes, smoking is fantastic." It's such a part of him, that if you take away his pack, you take away a big chunk of his image — you know, the one where he plays the role of your crotchety grandpa who spends an inordinate amount of time in the garage during your 11th birthday party.
But here's the thing — We're already well aware that Jim Leyland like cigarettes just like we know that Wade Boggs liked eating lemon chicken or that Tony La Russa likes helping animals. Actually, it probably goes way past those two examples in terms of being run into the ground.
So, fellow sportswriters and bloggers: Can we just call for a ceasefire on references to Leyland and cigarettes? He's not the first baseball figure to enjoy tobacco. He certainly won't be the last.
And unless they start slapping his picture on the side of cartons in Michigan gas stations, we aren't covering any new ground here. There must be something else (pool? needlepoint?) he's into other than cigarettes. Right?