I love baseball. And I really LOVE the Red Sox. I own many more Sox t-shirts and hats than one person needs, yet I’m afraid to wear both my short- and long-sleeved 2004 World Series Champions shirts because I want them to last forever. In my just-out-of-college, can’t-afford-cable days, I used to sit in my car in a grocery store parking lot because that’s where I could get decent reception to hear Sox games at night on WEEI. We spend (too much) money every year following the Sox around. I mean, we voluntarily traveled to Detroit to see them play. (Like I said, I love them. Maybe to the point of insanity sometimes, as that trip to Detroit may indicate.)
I’ve read plenty about how it’s not particularly “cool” anymore to be a baseball fan, how the game’s too slow, how kids aren’t falling in love with baseball the way they (we) used to. I don’t actually think that’s true — I know plenty of little kids who love the game — but we’re doing everything we can to grow Teddy into a fan. (Last week, those things included bribing him to sit still for just one more inning of spring training games with ice cream, italian ices, and frozen lemonade. We’ll save the cotton candy for next year.)
All of that — and my own cancer history — combined to absolutely infuriate me when I read this story just before we left for Florida about how many Sox players just can’t quit chewing (or, more specifically, how most of them can’t quit smokeless snuff tobacco). Yeah, they know it’s bad for them, bad for the game’s image, bad for little kids to see, but you know, they need a jolt before they hit, or they’ve done it forever, or it’s part of their routine.
And then there was this gem from Jonny Gomes:
“I’d quit if my family wanted me to,” Gomes said. “The kids aren’t old enough to realize what’s going on. People are baffled I don’t do it in the offseason because I do it all the time when we’re playing. But I don’t have an addictive personality. There’s just something about it that goes with baseball. There’s something attached to hitting. I can’t describe it.
“Once I stop playing, I’ll never do it again. I know it’s a bad idea.”
Jonny Gomes is great in many ways, not least for his the bandwagon of beards he started last year. But Jonny? Shut the hell up. You sound ridiculous. And if it’s that easy to stop, then STOP. (I’m not saying it’s that easy to stop for everyone. But if he makes it sound like it’s easy for him to do, then drop it, already.)
Also, your kids? They are watching, even if they aren’t old enough to say something to you about it. You know who else is watching? The kids of all of your fans, even if you think they’re just eating ice cream.