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Stephen Strasburg gives up smokeless tobacco

Jun 24, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT

Stephen Strasburg AP

Stephen Strasburg played for Tony Gwynn at San Diego State. He was using smokeless tobacco before he got there and he was unaware that Gwynn used it back when he played, but Strasburg is nonetheless using his former coach’s death as a basis for making some life changes. He’s quitting the stuff:

“I think it’s a disgusting habit, looking back on it,” Strasburg said. “I was pretty naive when I started. Just doing it here and there, I didn’t think it was going to be such an addiction. … Bottom line is, I want to be around for my family. This is something that can affect people the rest of your life. [Chewing tobacco is] so prevalent in this game. It’s something we all kind of grew up doing.”

Good for Strasburg. And, though his legacy was already more than secured as one of the best hitters in baseball history, here’s hoping Tony Gwynn’s death leads to a reduction and, eventually, an elimination of smokeless tobacco use in baseball and its elimination of something somehow significant in the overall baseball culture.

  1. vallewho - Jun 24, 2014 at 9:02 AM

    This kid is pretty slow…

    • missingjimmyjohnsonsince1994 - Jun 24, 2014 at 9:28 AM

      How so? Most MLB players use smokeless tobacco. It wasn’t widely publicized that Gwynn’s cancer was due to the fact that he used tobacco.

      I guess you can find a reason to criticize anyone, even when they are making a good decision.

      • sportsfan18 - Jun 24, 2014 at 2:43 PM

        Uh, NO need for anyone to just now realize due to Mr. Gwynn’s death.

        Even had Mr. Gwynn never used it and didn’t die from it, uh, WE ALL KNOW tobacco is deadly.

        So, when Stas says he wants to be around for his family, well it did not take (at least it should not have taken) Mr. Gwynn’s death for Stras to KNOW that using that stuff was going to kill him sooner than if he hadn’t used it.

        Maybe not as early as Mr. Gwynn, but using tobacco regularly throughout one’s life reduces lifespan a lot, up to 10 yrs.

      • vallewho - Jun 24, 2014 at 10:38 PM

        I think most people my age, and people of ball-playing age have grown up in the time where is is know that tabacco = cancer….so you do the math.

    • section138 - Jun 24, 2014 at 10:19 AM

      Your FACE is pretty slow…

  2. jm91rs - Jun 24, 2014 at 9:03 AM

    Good for Strasburg. It sounds like such a no-brainer when someone you know dies from cancer related to Tobacco, but it’s harder than you’d think. As a kid I was floored when my mom didn’t give up smoking the minute her dad was diagnosed with lung cancer (not from smoking, but still there’s an obvious connection). It’s just a hard thing to do and requires you to admit your own mortality. I’m sure as a young athlete at the top of his game, admitting his own mortality was not easy for Strasburg.

    • gothapotamus90210 - Jun 24, 2014 at 9:33 AM

      Thankfully those looking to quit chewing/smoking today have viable nicotine replacement therapies available. Nicotine is more physically addictive than booze, cocaine and meth, to give you an idea of how hard it is to quit the drug.

      I quit dipping over two years ago and still use the patch (obviously something to discuss with a doctor if using long term – mine said so long as my heart was fine, extended use of the patch was fine.).

      There’s also the oral fixation aspect, but nothing a pack of Trident won’t cure.

      • jm91rs - Jun 24, 2014 at 9:49 AM

        My mom quit with the help of the patch, then her mom died and she turned back to smoking to calm her nerves. Trying to get her off that wagon again soon though! I’m very thankful that I thought the smoke smell was so awful there was no way I ever wanted to try it. I was so embarrassed going to school smelling like that. I’m positive that gave me the courage to say no in a few peer pressure situations growing up!

    • 18thstreet - Jun 24, 2014 at 11:27 AM

      It’s also because nicotine is addictive, and it’s really hard to quit. It’s not about weak character or stupidity, as people like vallewho imply.

      Good for Strasburg. And good luck to him, too.

      • sportsfan18 - Jun 24, 2014 at 2:48 PM

        But WHY did they start?

        They were NOT addicted to it BEFORE using it…

        They caved in to peer pressure?

        You say it isn’t stupidity. Well, folks KNOW it’s bad, terrible, deadly, not good for you BEFORE they ever try it and yet they still try it… Kinda sounds like stupidity to me…

        And if they think, I’m young, I’m healthy, I’ll quit before I get old… uh, again more stupidity… thinking bad things can’t or won’t happen to them…

      • 18thstreet - Jun 24, 2014 at 3:37 PM

        Congratulations, SportsFan18, for being the only human being in history who did not do something stupid when you were a teenagers.

        You must be the true messiah.

  3. hoopmatch - Jun 24, 2014 at 9:43 AM

    It will be interesting to see if Strasburg’s performance (on the mound) suffers on account of ditching the dipping habit.

  4. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 24, 2014 at 10:10 AM

    I think a lot of the comraderie aspect (and oral fixation) is being replaced by sunflower seeds. I think it will likely be a generational thing, where younger guys are discouraged from dip or chew in high school/college so by the time they get to the Bigs there is less interest. I am sure it will take some time, but it seems like things are at least trending in the right direction.

    • jm91rs - Jun 24, 2014 at 11:20 AM

      I think you’re right, although I’m a little saddened that it’s still going on at all. Strasburg is younger than I am and I can’t tell you how many times I was told how bad these things were when I was growing up. Definitely trending in the right direction though.

  5. bisonaudit - Jun 24, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    Chewing tobacco has been banned from the minor leagues for over 20 years now. Do we know if that’s had any appreciable effect on its prevalence at the big league level?

  6. illuminancer - Jun 24, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    Good for Strasburg. I hope more players, especially the younger ones, follow his example.

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