Watch baseball with someone new to the sport and you’re bound to hear one thing over and over: “Why do the players spit so much? What in the world is wrong with these slobs?” It is a fascinating, albeit gross, question to ponder. Why do baseball players expectorate more than other pro athletes?
Not being a professional baseball player, I can’t offer much in the way of an authoritative answer. However, I can tell you that fewer and fewer players are spitting tobacco juice. While the practice has yet to be banned in the big leagues, use is down among Major League players. That decline may be due in part to the ban at the minor league level.
So, if it’s not tobacco juice, then what in the world is responsible for all the free-flying saliva? Sunflower seeds? Bubblegum juice? How about both? According to a blog from Cleveland.com, when big league baseball stopped providing players with tobacco, the teams started providing players with sunflower seeds and chewing gum. The blog explains that in a single season, the Cleveland Indians “will go through 12 cases of sunflower seeds and 10 cases of Bazooka bubble gum (regular and sugarless).”
OK, but why do they have to spit? One blogger thinks it might be a holdover from times past. Players don’t really “need” to spit anymore, but they do anyway, because it’s just part of the culture. Another theory — the players are bored, so they spit like there’s no tomorrow. Perhaps we’ll never know, just like we’ll never know why players “adjust” themselves so often.
What are your theories as to why baseball players spit so much? Boredom? Tradition? Something else? Save your saliva and please leave a comment below.
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