BOSTON (CBS/AP) —From Fenway Park to youth baseball fields, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh wants to ban the use of snuff and chewing tobacco in sports venues across the city. A Boston Red Sox spokesman did not immediately comment Wednesday, but owner John Henry told The Boston Globe, which he also owns, that he supports the idea.
Walsh’s proposal would apply to everyone in a ballpark, including fans, players, ground crews and concession staff.
Violators would be subject to a $250 fine.
The proposed Boston ordinance would cover professional, collegiate, high school or organized amateur sporting events and be effective April 1.
I wish I could write this blog in real time because I’ve never had more people text/tweet/email me a story more than this one.
However, thanks to this whole “working seven days a week/writing a thesis/inability to say ‘no’ to anyone who wants to go out for ‘just one drink’/inability to ever have ‘just one drink” thing it’s never going to happen.
More’s the pity.
Nevertheless, please don’t think I’ve been CHEWING(!) on this story for the past week while carefully crafting a comeback.
The truth is I don’t want to write about this at all.
I don’t want to write about this because the more I think about what’s really happening here the more depressed I get about the world and how it works.
Let’s get one thing straight, all right?
This whole thing is fucked up.
This whole thing is fucked up and it’s fucked up for three reasons:
It’s pretentious, it’s impractical, and it’s insincere.
Let’s start with Marty Walsh and John Henry.
Full disclosure: I like Marty Walsh and I like John Henry.
I like Marty Walsh’s story. I like how he handled the snow. I like how he told the IOC to go fuck itself. I like how when we have him on at EEI he fights with passion. I like how he’s an Irish-Catholic born in Dorchester and I’m an Irish-Catholic born in Dorchester.
I like John Henry’s story, too. I like how he’s won three World Series. I like how he seems to care more when the Sox are losing than he does when they’re winning. I like how he saved Fenway. I like how he’s pale as fuck and I’m pale as fuck.
That being said, Marty Walsh and John Henry are caught up in some transparent, self-serving shit here.
Marty’s reason for supporting a ban on smokeless tobacco is simple: He’s doing it for the votes.
Remember, there’s an election in two years and Marty won in 2013 with just 51.5% of the vote to John Connolly’s 48.1% —a difference of less than 5,000 votes.
Obviously this crusade against dip won’t swing the 2017 election, but it will surely win Marty more votes than it loses him.
John Henry’s reason is just as simple: He’s doing it for the PR.
You can file this one under “Friendly Fenway” along with Wally the Green Monster, Pink Hats, Sweet Caroline et al.
NOW, while each man’s motivation is clear, what’s not clear is how either expected to come off as sincere should someone give any actual thought to what they’re proposing.
I’m not going to waste time speculating on how this will be enforced because we all know it won’t be.
(I will say this: I want to be there should Marty ever send some G.I. Joe task force down to M Street Park during a men’s softball game to slap the Skoal out the mouths of every nail straightener who’s just trying to avoid his wife and kids for a couple hours.
Just the thought of that is enough to make me consider supporting this.
Also, at some point I’d like an explanation as to how the proposed fine for dipping in a sporting venue is $250 when the fine for smoking weed is $100.
Semantics, I’m sure, but—seeing as how one you can buy at the corner store and one is, you know, illegal—I think we all deserve to be humored with some bullshit answer.)
So, as I was saying, this ban on smokeless tobacco isn’t meant for execution—it’s all about the message.
And you know what?
It’s a damn good message.
When someone like Curt Schilling steps to the mic and tells everyone about how he’s an idiot and dipped for 30 years and got mouth cancer those words actually mean something.
Everyone should hear that story.
Been there, done that, don’t let it happen to you.
But when it comes from Walsh and Henry?
Well, those words are every bit as hollow as the man Henry looks like.
Listen, I’m sure Marty Walsh and John Henry are sincere in what they’re doing.
I’m sure they don’t want anyone—with the possible exception of Bobby Valentine—to get cancer.
However, why they’re supporting this ban is some calculated nonsense.
This is such an obvious parallel that I hesitate to make it, but what do you think Marty Walsh and John Henry would say if someone proposed a ban on alcohol at sporting venues?
Here’s a fun fact: Marty Walsh is a recovering alcoholic who hasn’t had a drink in 20 years.
Don’t you think he would be the first person to support a ban on alcohol?
Of course not.
Marty Walsh wouldn’t support a ban on alcohol because the majority of people—with yours truly leading the mob—would storm City Hall with pitchforks and torches at the mere mention of it.
You know how Marty will win more votes than he loses over the smokeless tobacco ban?
Well, the same logic applies here.
It’s a numbers game, and way more people drink than dip.
I can’t speculate on how many votes Marty Walsh would lose if he ever supported a ban on alcohol at sporting venues in Boston, but I think it’s safe to say we’d all gain an intimate knowledge of the term “recall election”.
It’s not that Marty doesn’t think alcohol is bad—it’s much, much worse than smokeless tobacco and there’s no real argument to be made otherwise—it’s just that in the context of his political career it’s not bad enough to do anything about.
As for John Henry’s hypothetical answer?
Well, let’s just say it ain’t even a question how his dough flows.
John Henry sells a 12-ounce cup of beer for $7.75 at Fenway.
More importantly, he sells MILLIONS of them every year.
Don’t think for a cocaine heartbeat that John Henry would support banning smokeless tobacco if he had vendors trudging around Fenway with tins of dip for sale.
(Which, as I’ve been saying for years, he most certainly should. This America, man.)
NOW, I’m sure John Henry would try to spin this.
He’d probably say that alcohol is totally different from smokeless tobacco and that’s why he sells one and not the other.
He’d probably say how he supports the ban on smokeless tobacco because he doesn’t want kids to see players dipping because when kids see players dipping they’re tempted to try it.
After all, John Henry cares about the kids and the kids look up to the players and that’s why it’s okay to sell alcohol.
It’s okay for John Henry to sell alcohol because kids never see players drink—
You know what?
Let’s just leave it at this:
If it weren’t for hypocrisy some people would have nothing to say.
Let Marty count his votes and John count his money.
The rest of us can count on that.