Ball players are spitting up a storm

October 25, 2004|By KEVIN COWHERD

WAS WATCHING the World Series last night and ... excuse me for a moment. PA-TOO!

Sorry, had to spit. Been doing that a lot lately. Don't know what's come over me. Maybe it's subliminal. Watching too much baseball.

Boy, those Red Sox and Cardinals love to spit, don't they?

Have you ever seen so much spitting in your life?

They spit in the dugout.

They spit at the plate.

They spit in the field.

And the TV cameras seem to capture every single stream of saliva from both teams.

You've got close-ups of players spitting.

You've got split-screens of coaches spitting.

You've got back-to-back shots of the pitcher spitting, then the batter spitting.

I'm waiting for a slo-mo shot of a ballplayer spitting while announcer Tim McCarver breaks down the guy's technique:

"Now, look how he's holding his lips! See right there! And then he ... lets it go! Man, that's just God-given talent!"

Is there any other profession in the world where, if you knew the TV cameras were on you and 30 million people were watching, you'd feel comfortable spitting?

But there's a long history of spitting in baseball, of course.

This is because there's a long history of chewing in baseball.

Tobacco, bubble gum, sunflower seeds, ballplayers will chew just about anything.

Ballplayers would chew the tread of a Uniroyal tire if they could fit it in their mouth. Chewing makes you seem tough. And when you chew, you spit.

The other thing is, there's a lot of down-time in baseball.

Sometimes these games last four or five hours and there's a lot of yawning going on instead of a lot of action.

So players spit just to give themselves something to do.

This also explains some of the other lovely baseball traditions, such as crotch-adjusting and slapping each other on the butt.

The whole concept of spitting must seem weird to ballplayers - at least at first.

For 18 years, their parents were always telling them: "Don't spit, it's disgusting."

Then they get into pro ball.

And not only is spitting not frowned upon, it's expected!

In fact, if you're a ballplayer and you don't spit, you're considered a head-case.

What's wrong with O'brien? We've played five innings and he hasn't spit once!

The World Series offers a ballplayer the unique opportunity to spit in front of a worldwide audience, and both the Red Sox and Cardinals are taking full advantage of it.

But the Red Sox really, really love to spit.

These guys probably spit during the team prayer.

Every time you see a shot of their dugout, there's a half-dozen guys spraying stuff all over the place.

The floor of that dugout must be a real garden spot, too.

How would you like the job of cleaning that up?

They ought to give that job to convicts on work-release.

Apparently, with the Red Sox, the whole spitting habit starts at the top. Because their manager, Terry Francona, is always spitting.

This guy is so addicted to spitting that if I were his doctor, I'd advise him to take up smoking, just to break the other habit.

Then again, if ever there was a bunch of players less self-conscious than the Red Sox, I haven't seen them.

Have you seen the batting helmets the Red Sox wear?

Are those the ugliest batting helmets in history?

They're streaked with mud, they're pitted, they're scratched.

What have the Red Sox been doing with these helmets, mining bauxite?

But the Red Sox don't care what you think about their batting helmets.

Or their spitting.

Or anything else about them.

Look, during the Red Sox-Yankees series, Boston outfielder Johnny Damon was captured on-camera in the dugout clipping his toenails.

Really.

Now think about that for a moment.

If you don't care if 30 million people are watching you clip your toenails, you sure don't care if they see you spitting.

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