EDITORIAL: MLB ban on smokeless tobacco setting a dangerous precedent

NOTE: The views expressed in this EDITORIAL do not necessarily reflect the views of Detroit Sports Nation or a majority of its writers and should not be misconstrued as such. The views contained within are the views of the author and the author alone.


Late Wednesday night, MLB and the Players’ Union came to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. This is a good thing, as it squashes any delay to the Winter Meetings or, heaven forbid, spring training due to a strike. The agreement had a few highlights that left the internet abuzz the day after.

First and foremost the All-Star game will no longer determine home field advantage in the World Series. And all of baseball fandom breathes a sigh of relief. However, there was one clause of the agreement that left this writer in particular scratching their head. The agreement also allowed the MLB to ban smokeless tobacco for all players, unless you have one day of service time, then you are grandfathered in.

Smokeless tobacco has been a hot topic issue for the MLB since the untimely death of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. Former major league pitcher Curt Schilling has been an advocate against smokeless tobacco, as well as current superstar pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Chris Sale. And there are already seven cities around the country that have completely banned the use of smokeless tobacco in its ballparks, including Milwaukee as of last week.

While this seems like a good measure to take, and the MLB is being patted on the back for their banning of tobacco use, I cry foul.

First, let me say that even though tobacco of any kind is a serious addiction to countless people and that it can indeed cause cancer, why does the MLB feel like it should be the party responsible for regulating the personal decisions of its athletes? This particular part of the agreement has no effect on the strategy of play, or the game itself, and should not have been part of the collective bargaining agreement. It is over-regulation at its finest, and has no place in sports. And this trend seems to be growing over the landscape of sports nationwide. Don’t even get me started on Roger Goodell and the disaster he has made the NFL.

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The major problem that I have with this agreement is the regulation of it. How in the world does the MLB expect to regulate this clause of the agreement? Are they going to have someone standing a the top steps of the dugout having players flip their lips inside out to make sure no one is dipping? Of course not, that is ridiculous.

Which then makes you wonder if this was merely just a publicity stunt, which may be even more egregious.

Whatever the reasoning behind the agreement to ban smokeless tobacco, it is a complete overreach by the governing body of the sport. Whether or not a player chooses to use smokeless tobacco is their choice, not the League’s. Last I checked, this is still America where we encourage personal freedom; it’s actually the thing that makes us “American”. This is a dangerous precedent of overreach by the governing body of Major League Baseball.

I’m a baseball fan, have been my whole life, and will continue to be. For me, it is as American as apple pie and the greatest game on Earth. However, this last instance of overregulation is definitely strike one.

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