Russell Martin should emulate Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk in many ways, but hopefully not this one. From Ken Gurnick's recap of Martin's return from the World Baseball Classic at Dodgers.com:
Martin went 0-for-2 and scored a run in the game, his first with the specially fitted mouthpiece he hopes will serve a dual purpose -- to help him quit using smokeless tobacco and to relax his jaw.
"I quit dipping [smokeless tobacco] over the winter and I wanted to have something in my mouth and not gum," said the two-time All-Star. "I did it last year, but during the season having everybody around you dipping makes it hard. I know it's hard to stop once the season starts. You can't dip with this in your mouth."
We hope you stay off the dip, Russell. We really do. Because apparently it's really, really hard. Just ask Curt Schilling. From a 2002 Rick Reilly column at Sports Illustrated:
People who've been through both say quitting spit tobacco is twice as hard as quitting cigarettes. Ask Arizona Diamondbacks righthander Curt Schilling, co-MVP of last year's World Series. Four years ago doctors removed a precancerous lesion on the inside of his lower lip, and he can't quit dipping. His New Year's resolution was to quit. He lasted three days. His father died of lung cancer and his wife just spent a year battling it, and he still can't quit. "It's so unbelievably hard," says Schilling, who has tried sunflower seeds, gum, nicotine patches, hypnosis and counseling. "I've got to quit -- I want to see my kids grow up, and I want them to see me with a full face -- but I haven't been able to."
Fast-forward to 2005. From Jon Saraceno at USA Today:
Schilling, 38, wants to quit, but that New Year's resolution seems like years ago now. His family is after him, too, particularly his 7-year-old daughter, Gabriella. Tuesday, the big, tough right-hander sounded scared — almost as afraid as the time when a lesion was discovered in his mouth several years ago. He went cold turkey for a year and a half, until someone handed him the strong stuff at a golf tournament.
"I took one dip, and I was full-blown back in it," he says despondently. "It's an addiction that covers so many things physically and mentally."
He stopped during spring training this year.
For all of two days.
And from a 2007 Q&A at Schilling's blog, 38 Pitches:
Q-It’s no secret that you have had your troubles with quitting chewing tobacco in the past. As someone who’s been dipping for 8 years now, I know what it’s like. I’m 26, and it’s getting to the point where it’s starting to scare me.
Any pointers on how you kicked the habit? I’ve been trying, but it’s tough.
A-I’ve only really [quit] one time. I stopped for over a year back in the late 90’s. I did it with the Nicotine patch. It’s by far the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do and failed at. I know I need to quit, but I have had so much trouble getting there.
It's not looking good for Schilling, but there's still a chance for Martin. Let's just hope that telltale round tin shape doesn't reappear in his back pocket:
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original bottom photo: AP