The four-time All-Star made his declaration to Sports Illustrated's Stephanie Apstein after reading through a 67-page memo outlining the league's proposed health and safety regulations.
The proposal seeks to ban players, coaches and other personnel from spitting, using smokeless tobacco and chewing sunflower seeds in restricted areas. It is strictly a safety issue. Saliva is one of the many known ways for individuals to spread COVID-19. It’s a big reason why social distancing protocols have been at the forefront of every suggested precautionary guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic.
The players received the health and safety regulation memo on Friday.
“Wait wait? Blackmon said. “I’m 100% gonna spit. That’s ingrained in my playing the game. Whether or not I’m dipping or chewing gum, I’m still gonna spit. I have to occupy my mind. It’s like putting things on autopilot. You see it like with Hunter Pence, where he would constantly be adjusting his uniform. I don’t have this idle time where my consciousness wanders. I fill my time with thought processes that are like a cruise control.”
Blackmon is the first player to outright state he would ignore the “no spitting” guideline should it be put in place. However, he’s not alone in suggesting the rule will not work on a grand scale.
Even before the players received the memo, San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler expressed doubts about the players’ ability or willingness to follow along. Kapler did so by explaining how important spitting is to his game day ritual.
Then there’s Atlanta Braves pitcher Josh Tomlin. The veteran right-hander says spitting is such a normal part of his routine, he’s rarely aware he’s doing it.
Tomlin is with him (Blackmon) there. It’s “probably not” physically possible for him to play baseball without spitting, he says. He is addicted to tobacco, but even if he switches to a nicotine patch or starts lighting cigarettes behind the dugout, he will not be able to stop spitting, because he all but blacks out on the mound.
“If I’m spitting, I don’t remember spitting,” he says. If I pick up dirt and wipe it on the ball, I don’t think about doing it before I do it. It just happens. Hell, I do it playing catch sometimes!”
It’s odd to say, but spitting truly is ingrained in baseball. If you watch closely, rarely do multiple pitches go by without someone in uniform getting caught spitting something somewhere on camera. It just happens. It’s not a pleasant sight, but it has long been an accepted practice.
With that seemingly poised to change, it will create a new challenge for players to navigate. Or in Charlie Blackmon’s case, a new rule to disregard.
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