Top 10 Most Obvious "Dippers" in Major League Baseball
When baseball isn't busy being mired in steroids scandals, it's a hyper-entertaining sport of men who face off against one another with leather gloves, tight pants, and more superstition than the average human can handle.
That, of course, is the opinion of your average baseball-obsessed super fan (ahem). To many, baseball is a boring game that requires some sort of stimulant to enjoy. For some players, it's no different. Baseball requires a ton of stop-and-go performance, which, despite naysayers, is the No. 1 reason for major injuries.
It's probably also the No. 1 reason that players make the choice to chew tobacco during games. With all that standing (and for many, sitting) around, players often choose to let their minds wander with some smokeless tobacco resting in their lower lip or inside their cheek.
In a sense, you can't blame them: there are really only three guys playing at a time in baseball, which is truly unlike any other sport. On the other hand, it's a little unsettling when you see Tim Lincecum throw in a huge dip after tossing eight shutout innings (not to mention the health risks involved).
On August 18 of this year's MLB season, the Colorado Rockies suspended farmhand Mike Jacobs for 50 games when he tested positive for HGH. Aside from the obvious implication, this story provided us with a perfectly nasty photo (pictured above).
Things can get out of hand (See here: Nyjer Morgan throws his chew at St. Louis' Chris Carpenter) at times. With Morgan's Brewers currently trying to battle back from a 3-2 deficit in the NLCS, we take a look at MLB's current top 10 most obvious tobacco chewers.
No. 10: Pittsburgh Pirates' Outfielder Ryan Ludwick Can't Quit
A career .261 hitter, Ludwick has played minor roles on the Cardinals, Padres, Indians, and Rangers (he peaked at 152 games, 37 HR, and a .299 average in '09 for St. Louis). He's a classic MLB journeyman that never opened any eyes but also never put any of them to sleep.
Last May, Ludwick was featured in a story that revealed just how bad the chewing tobacco problem is in MLB. He represents the storied MLB player who uses tobacco because it "relaxes" him at the plate.
He's also pretty embarrassed about the way it looks. This photo drives home that point nicely.
No. 9: Rangers' Catcher Mike Napoli, Swallowing Dips for a Living
From 1981-1997, Brett Butler quietly amassed 2,357 hits for six ball clubs.
He also developed throat cancer from chewing tobacco. Butler is now a huge proponent against dipping.
Mike Napoli, the Texas Rangers' current catcher, is an avid tobacco user. In Game 4 of this year's ALDS, Tampa Bay Ray Sean Rodriguez bowled over Napoli in what was described as a "big time collision with a couple of big boys."
The next day, Napoli sheepishly admitted to swallowing his tobacco during the collision.
He said he was fine and he probably was. Seems like pretty good karma though, right?
No. 8: Baltimore Orioles 3B Mark Reynolds, More Than Just the K King
Reynolds is well-known in baseball as a guy who strikes out more than he does anything else. (He struck out 211 times in 499 ABs in 2010 for Arizona, setting a major league record).
He's really not notorious for being a huge tobacco user but there were rumors for awhile that he definitely didn't chew.
He did, however, say that it's a hard habit to kick, despite how dangerous it is.
I'm not sure which one worries me more: the constant K's or the gnarly tobacco lip he harbors.
No. 7: Manny Ramirez, Dirty All over
Man Ram isn't in baseball anymore because he failed a second drug test and decided to retire.
I cheated and included an inactive player to prove a point, however: Manny's entire demeanor can be broken into one word: dirty. His helmet was dirty, his mouth was dirty (see above), his urine was dirty (as previously mentioned), and now his reputation is completely sullied.
Like it or not, the guy could HIT. It would be a complete shame if he never came back to baseball in order to make it to 3,000 hits.
On the other hand, maybe that'll keep him away from that Red Man he's rocking.
No. 6: Oakland A's GM Billy Beane, Still Trying to Be a Ballplayer
Yes that is merely Brad Pitt portraying Billy Beane in Moneyball, and yes I added Beane because I saw it in the movie, NOT because I saw Beane actually dipping.
One of the themes of "Moneyball" is that scouts never actually know whether or not the players that they're rounding up are going to be any good. Beane was one of those cases, lost in one of the kitchen-table conversations that are shown in the film. Beane's career sputtered out after six seasons and the only thing that he seemed to take with him was his can of tobacco.
I grew up watching the Oakland A's and I have nothing bad to say about the organization and the people who make it run smoothly on a regular basis. The fact that Beane is still a chaw-slinger is merely a testament to how addictive nicotine is.
Still, it's pretty phenomenal that Beane spits into his cup while wheeling and dealing at the helm of a relatively successful baseball organization.
No. 5: Philadelphia Phillies 2B Chase Utley, Classic American Baseball Bro
Chase Utley has a lot of positive things going for him:
- Career .983 fielding percentage and .290 batting average.
- A 2011 Salary of $15,285,714.
- 5 All-Star selections and a World Series ring ('08).
He's also got a few negative things in his corner:
- The worst slicked back-hair combined with a mean, hunched over look that almost makes me want to see the Yankees beat him.
- An insufferable soul patch that screams of ex-teammate Jayson Werth (another good candidate for this list).
- One of the most perfect baseball names of all time (this one could easily be in the positives).
- A permanent sour-chew face.
No. 4: New York Yankees' Outfielder Nick Swisher Can't Breathe
He has maintained a consistency on the tobacco front, however. That bulging lip of his has become something that I look for in October. This year, I've been robbed of seeing Nick Swisher do his tobacco dance on the field.
His career .254 average doesn't impress me but how he's still standing in the outfield by the fourth inning certainly does.
No. 3: Currently Unemployed Manager Terry Francona, Dip's Poster Child
After getting a gig working on FOX with Joe Buck during the playoffs this year, Francona said the part he missed most about baseball was that he wanted to "chew and curse at will."
I'm sure the Cubs will take him.
No. 2: San Francisco Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval Runs on Chew
Sandoval's weight problems last year were well documented and it's no secret that he'll need to get back on a diet this year. He really should lose more than just that weight.
Sandoval is the prototypical baseball player who you never see actually insert tobacco into his mouth and yet he always seems to have some in his cheek or his lip. The Kung-Fu Panda has won over the hearts of millions of Bay Area residents with his hilarious clubhouse and on-the-field nature and quirky pre-AB routine.
For all his spunk, that chaw he has going is routinely visible and he seems to have no clue how to avoid it.
No.1: Philadelphia Phillies Outfielder Raul Ibanez Runs Away with the Dip Crown
When initially compiling this list, I had somehow forgotten about Ibanez. A friend reminded me and it's now obvious that he belongs at the top of this list since it's hard to find a photo of him without a colossal chew in.
Anyone who constantly looks like a little kid eating a lollipop should probably cut back on their habit. Ibanez is quickly approaching 2,000 career hits and I sincerely hope that he sticks around long enough to do so.
I wonder what the inside of his left cheek looks like. Actually, no I don't.
To me, baseball is interesting enough without the constant use of tobacco and hopefully it does not have any serious effects on any of the 10 gentlemen showcased.
If you or anyone you know has a legitimate problem with tobacco, please visit here.