Dr. Lou Tells Us How to Fix Baseball: Stop the Spitting

October 28, 2010   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

By Dr. Louis Marmon

Baseball has loads of issues. The bats shatter and impale baserunners. The games are too long, and so is the season. Since when is the World Series supposed to be played in November?

It is also clear that Bud Selig isn’t creative enough to figure out a way to effectively use instant replay. He claims that these issues require further study before he can make any changes since he doesn’t want to diminish the fans’ experience.

But there is one thing that Selig can do immediately that will enhance the game for everyone watching:

Stop the spitting.

Why is that every time the camera pans on a baseball player he is spitting something? Most of the time they aren’t chewing anything. There isn’t any gum, tobacco, chaw, pinch, snuff, seeds or any other substance in their mouths except their own natural secretions—which, at least the last time I checked, are not toxic except if they end up going on or into someone else.

It’s not like they are playing in a dust bowl and have to clear out the schmutz so they can breathe. I doubt coal miners spit as much as most ballplayers.

It is a behavior that would never be tolerated in any other location or environment. Can you imagine their mothers or wives condoning this at their homes? “It’s OK, dear, just park that hocker over there by the ottoman.” You can’t even get away with it on the street, let alone another public venue.

Spitting directly at someone during a game uniformly results in heavy fines, and it may have cost Roberto Alomar the chance to be a first ballot Hall-of-Famer. Not even spectators can do it without offending someone. In fact, some disreputable spitting Yankees fans may have cost the team the chance to sign Cliff Lee.

Spitting has become such an integral aspect of Major League Baseball that Little Leaguers and even female softball players can be seen launching loogies as they step into the batter’s box or onto the pitcher’s mound. Is that really the image we want our kids to emulate?

Tobacco use has been wisely curtailed in the minor leagues for years, which makes the persistent spitting in the majors even more of a mystery. You see it occasionally in football and other field sports, and boxers spitting into a bucket is iconic. But it almost never occurs in golf or tennis.

Is spitting a way to demonstrate masculinity? To mark territory or to prove that you are tough enough to play the game? It is certainly not a way to attract women—at least not the women I would find interesting.

There is little doubt that ritual spitting was an integral part of early baseball history. Mark Twain noted that there was more tobacco use the further south and west he traveled. By the 1800s tobacco chewing had declined in the Northeast and likely peaked in the US by the 1880s. But it persisted in baseball perhaps as a throwback to a more rural lifestyle.

As players switched to other forms of oral entertainment, like sunflower seeds or gum, the spitting persisted in large part because it was always associated with the game.

Spitting the last mouthful of water is almost understandable since many coaches mistakenly believed for years that drinking water was bad for performance and would lead to stomach cramps.

But it doesn’t make much sense right now.

Spitting is ugly, boorish, unsanitary, unnecessary and generally uncalled for since even those who feel compelled to consume sunflower seeds in the dugout can rid themselves of the husks into a cup rather than onto the ground.

It’s about time Selig raised the playing field above the level of a spittoon. It may even elevate the level of play.

Or, at the very least, the level of on-field behavior.


This article originally appeared on The NY Sports Digest. If its off-beat and it’s about the Mets, Yankees, Knicks, Giants, Jets, Islanders, or Rangers, than The Digest is the spot to get it. Stop with the mega-sites and get a feel for the true pulse of New York at www.NYSportsDigest.com

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readers comments
  1. jimmy on July 26th, 2014 4:01 pm



  2. gene on July 26th, 2014 10:24 pm


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