Baseball great Tony Gwynn is dead at age 54 from cancer that he blamed on his years-long habit of chewing tobacco. While the number of big-leaguers that use the stuff is dropping, about 1 in 3 are still in the habit, reports USA Today, citing stats from the Pro Baseball Athletic Trainers Society. The league has taken steps to curb its use—for example, players can't have a wad in their mouth during TV interviews, and the days of free tins in the clubhouse are long gone—but this is no longer enough, writes Ernie Palladino at CBS Sports.
For Major League Baseball, "it's time to ban chewing tobacco," he writes. Sure, defenders will talk about the culture of the game and worry about "sissifying" it, but that's just outdated thinking. The NFL and NHL have taken steps to make their sports safer for players, and MLB must do the same. "It’s too late for the best pure hitter of our generation," writes Palladino. "But with a little change in culture, MLB could save others." Click for his full column.