September 30, 2010
Impressionable utes weren't the only ones watching when Cincinnati Reds owner Bob Castellini (right) passed out victory cigars and then lit up after his team clinched the NL Central title at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday.
Also watching at home on television were at least five whistle-blowers who noted that the Reds were violating Ohio's indoor-smoking ban. They called Cincinnati's health department to report the team and now the Cincinnati Enquirer reports the club is under investigation.
In case you're wondering, the answer is yes — I'm extremely sorry to report that there are people living among us who would actually do this.
Look, my non-smoker self enjoys big gulps of clean indoor air as much as anybody. I can't, however, imagine what kind of situational misery would make someone watch a one-time free-for-all scene where alcohol is freely being sprayed into the eyes of others and decide that he or she needs to tattle on a few puffs from a stogie at a place they're not even at.
Did these people also file complaints about all the celebratory jaywalking that was going on downtown that night? Do they report all the big-act musicians who come to town and smoke cigarettes in their green rooms? Honestly, it's not as if the Reds ruined their nice dinner at Olive Garden that night.
Luckily, the Reds aren't facing the prospect of any players being placed under citizen's arrest or the forfeiture of their first division title since 1995. Though we have evidence of Castellini being caught, uh, red-handed, Ohio state law says the health inspector must actually witness the smoking in person to issue a fine.
And it's not even that big to begin with.
State law requires a health inspector to go out within 30 days at about the same time of day as the alleged violation, [health department spokesperson Rocky] Merz said. That means an inspector might be attending one of the playoff games to see if anyone is smoking then.
"We come in unannounced, obviously," he said.
If the inspector sees someone smoking, the Reds will be sent a letter notifying them of the violation, which the team can appeal. No fine is attached to any initial violation. If another complaint is filed and an inspector responds again to the ballpark and sees someone smoking, the Reds could be fined $100. The fine escalates to $500 after that.
Considering that Castellini owns a professional baseball team, I'm guess he'd be willing to tack on the cost of those fines should the Reds advance deep into the postseason.
That said, I think it'd be a huge show of support for Cincy's health department to ignore all similar calls in the future. As everyone is going to be quick to joke, it was probably just a bunch of jealous Cardinals or Cubs fans anyway.
Big BLS H/N: Fanhouse
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