Column: Wrong time to quit?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

With everything we know from a medical standpoint on the effects of tobacco and nicotine on the body, there shouldn't ever be a wrong time to quit using those harmful products.

Unless you're a baseball player. Then there can be a wrong time, just ask Nolan Ryan.

The Rangers president and legendary pitcher said this week Josh Hamilton's timing to quit chewing tobacco "couldn't have been worse."

The all-star centerfielder for Texas started out on fire in April and May, hitting a combined 21 home runs, only to disappear in a nasty hitting slump over June and July where he only hit eight home runs and struggled to stay over .200 in that span.

Hamilton decided to quit dipping in June. What a coincidence.

In the final game of the year, he dropped a routine flyball that allowed the A's to overtake them for the AL West title after a very disappointing final month for the Rangers.

Hamilton has a number of personal issues he deals with on a day-to-day basis, which has been well-documented, and this isn't the first time he's tried quitting.

A few years ago, Sports Illustrated ran a quote from Hamilton on why he's trying to quit dipping: "When you're your five-year-old daughter says 'I have to make sure Daddy didn't spit in this one' before taking a drink from a bottle, it's time."

I applaud the guy for trying to quit, it's a nasty habit. But I also know for someone like Hamilton, who's hampered with other addiction issues, it's going to be a serious undertaking to beat that pinch of Copenhagen.

Nolan Ryan continued in the interview, "You would've liked to have thought that if he was going to do that, he would've waited until the offseason to do it."

I don't condone tobacco use, but I see Ryan's point.

Hamilton is 31, drafted into the minors at 18, so it's fair to estimate he's been dipping for 10-15 years. He's playing great to start they year, then he goes into a horrible slump. Of course, other issues are involved, but from Ryan's view- point, the timing was terrible.

A boss suggesting an employee is better off continuing to use cancer-causing products. That's Major League Baseball.

Every baseball player makes their own decision whether or not to use smokeless tobacco. The effects and risks are well-known and chances are taken. You want to be able to stop when you want, but if it's going to effect affect performance, you open yourself up to suggestive comments from your boss.

The Rangers and Hamilton may be parting ways this offseason as his contract is up. I'm sure Nolan Ryan will be interested to know if he's finally quit dipping before he offers to resign him.

And I wish Hamilton good luck in his quest to be tobacco-free.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: