Baseball players have been associated with chewing or smokeless tobacco from the early days of the game. It was a habit acquired from boredom, and the desire to generate a saliva flow throughout a game. While it may not cause lung cancer, as smoking does, this form of tobacco can lead to cancer of the mouth and tongue. Hall of Fame Padre Tony Gwynn died of salivary gland cancer caused by the habit. Other players have had to have facial reconstruction as their lower lip disintegrated.

California Assemblyman Tony Thurmond has proposed a bill that would ban any form of tobacco from ballparks in the state. Rolls of chewing tobacco used to be readily available in any clubhouse. Major League Baseball banned that practice. Cigarette smoking is already banned at all MLB ballparks. Chewing tobacco is banned at minor league ballparks. This bill would extend the ban to the five California MLB ballparks. Is this bill needed, practical and useful? Athletes are role models and younger people emulate their behavior. If a popular baseball player chews tobacco it can be seen as "cool" and desirable.

Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, has said "what's striking is that in the last 15 years we've seen more than a 30 percent decline in cigarette smoking among teenage boys, but a 33 percent increase in smokeless tobacco." Smokeless tobacco has the same nicotine component which addicts smokers. I am embarrassed to say that years ago I emulated some of my clients and starting using smokeless tobacco. It is totally addictive and extremely hard to quit.

Actually regulating the use by ballplayers or patrons is a daunting task. Unless there is a big bulge obvious in a players cheek, tobacco can be parked in the mouth, which is not easy to detect. Testing players for their saliva is problematic. Fining players at the same rate as the public will not be a deterrent. Major League Baseball endorses this proposal because it finds the aesthetics detract from the game, as well as the health issues.

How much should the state be involved in regulating behavior that citizens may choose to do? There are no secondhand smoke implications to chewing. This same issue has played out in New York with the banning of certain sized sodas considered bad for health. I have always believed that athlete's trigger imitative behavior, especially in rebellious adolescents. Asking for athletes and patrons to go without chewing tobacco for the three hours of a ballgame, may be a small price to pay to save young people from the ravages of long term use.

There's no need to sugarcoat it: Not every sports mascot is memorable for the right reasons. For every Benny the Bull out there, there's a Big Red at Western Kentucky that looks a little too much like a melted gumdrop. Sports team mascots may come and go, but the memories -- for better or worse -- live on forever, carried forward by fans and their less-than-magical first-hand experiences.

In this latest episode of "The Rundown," a collaboration between TYT Sports and ThePostGame, we recount some of the worst mascots out there -- and some mascot nightmares we'd rather not relive.

Last week in Hollywood, Kobe Bryant came together with celebrities like Andy Garcia, designers like Christian Loubituon and NBA greats like Rick Fox for an early look at Kobe Bryant's Muse, a documentary focused on the life of the future NBA Hall of Famer. With Kobe being no stranger to controversy, the documentary explores some of his more personal moments as well as those that have been plastered over the news and helped make him a household name.

At the premier, director Gotham Chopra (son of Deepak Chopra) and Bryant held a Q&A that gave some insight into the making of the film. From the long hours of recording to being a part of the Kobe experience, the documenting and creating of the product seemed to have it's own set of rules that you would only expect from someone that works as hard as Kobe.

Broken into chapters, the documentary explores the life of Kobe Bryant through several different
lenses. From his struggles with trying to find a place in the world of the NBA, to pushing himself to be better, the film provides only glimpses into life.

And this is where the challenges with the documentary develop. As a public figure, the life of Kobe Bryant has been broadcast across television screens for all to see. Or has it? At first glance, it would appear that we know everything about the superstar athlete. But, after watching the documentary, I am not as sure. Publicly, we know the sacrifices and commitment that Kobe has for basketball, but how does that translates to his personal life remains a mystery.

On the sport side, the film covers a lot of what we already know. The championships, the players he took to the court with, the Three-Peat, the five rings, all stuff any reasonable fan of Kobe's could tell you about. It is the moments between these high points that seem to be missing. Instead of cohesion, the chapters seem to provide rough jump cuts, leaping from topic to topic to tell a story that we know already.

Is the film bad? No. Could it be better? Yes. With the name "Kobe Bryant's Muse," we are led to believe that we would see more of his inspiration and what drove him to be so dedicated to the sport and his family. Instead, we learned more of what we already know, that Kobe is a strategic, dedicated, talented and incredibly passionate player. What we wanted was to know the person behind all those buzzwords.

"Kobe Bryant's Muse" is available now on Showtime Anytime and On Demand through the end of the year, and will air on Showtime over the next few weeks."

-- Read more by Jacques Slade on and follow him on Twitter @kustoo.


Here are two preview clips that were released last year:

The latest wrinkle in the farce of having Qatar host the 2022 World Cup is the recommendation from a FIFA task force to shift the schedule from summer to November and December. This change is practical to avoid the summer heat, which can reach 120 degrees, but also highlights why the original decision to award the tournament to Qatar has been accompanied by scores of corruption charges.

On the latest episode of The Rundown, a collaboration between TYT Sports and ThePostGame, we take a closer look at what this scheduling decision might mean.

Of course, as annoying and inconvenient as it might be to have the World Cup held during the NFL and college football seasons, it is worth remembering that more than 1,000 foreign workers have already been killed while building facilities under horrendous conditions.

Some are religious: Think Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Muhammad Ali. Others are downright silly: We're looking at you, Metta World-Peace. But in some cases, athletes decide to change their names for purely benign reasons. B.J. Upton's recent decision to go by Melvin has us wondering just what, exactly, motivates such a drastic change.

In this latest episode of "The Rundown," a collaboration between TYT Sports and ThePostGame, we try to make sense of this mid-career audible.

Boris Nemtsov, a leading opposition politician in Russia, was shot dead Friday in Moscow. He was 55.

Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister, had been a vocal critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin. In HBO's Real Sports' segment previewing the 2014 Winter Olympics, Nemtsov said the Sochi Games were for Putin a "show for himself."

"This is a festival of corruption and mismanagement," Nemtsov told HBO. "We have 20 million poor people in this country. We have a problem in police. We have a problem in our hospitals. Putin spent $50 billion for what? For what?"

Here is more from Nemtsov in that 2013 interview with HBO:

What, did you expect Chuck to just give up the debate? If so, then you -- like all the sports nerds trying to take over his sport -- are dead wrong.

Charles Barkley does not back down, and he's certainly not going to be outdone by someone whose nickname is "Dork Elvis."

That's the title given to Daryl Morey, the Houston Rockets GM famous as one of the leading innovators in basketball's analytics revolution. After Barkley and Morey got into a beef earlier this month regarding the value of statistical analysis, TNT's most unpredictable commentator launched into what he feels is the true heart of the matter.

"Analytics are like when you’re black and white," Barkley said. "When you’re black they call you a cook. When you’re white, they call you a chef … they're just stats. Everybody pays attention to stats. They just changed the name to analytics so they can charge you more."

Not sure the stats-and-food metaphor works out all the way to the increased price, since fans and Barkley aren't directly putting down any money for info on PER and other fancy-schmancy numbers. Another problem with this metaphor: White guys were the ones who invented the basic stats and measures of success in the first place, and advanced basketball metrics have taken rise as NBA front offices have grown more diverse.

Outside of that, sure, the cooks vs. chefs thing holds water.

The much more likely root of Barkley's frustration is that he's a basketball player -- and a former great one. This is his game, his territory, and so it's probably a little disconcerting to have nerdy know-it-alls carry in their spreadsheets and algorithms touting reams of new knowledge that are far beyond what the sports world has ever seen.

It's a pretty safe assessment that Barkley is a basketball purist, and he puts a lot of stock into intangibles such as "talent," "hard work" and "play better." All of this is neatly captured in a quote from Barkley's first go-around on the subject:

"The NBA is about talent," Barkley said earlier this month. "All these guys who run these organizations who talk about analytics, they have one thing in common. They're a bunch of guys who ain’t never played the game, and they never got the girls in high school, and they just want to get in the game."

Wait, so this is about high school girlfriends? Or still cooks vs. chefs? Barkley probably doesn't know, but expect him to have a bold reply. Like many basketball fans, he's just trying to make sense of all this change. The difference is Barkley has no problem with spouting his opinions on-the-go.

Here's the full video of the segment where Barkley unleashes his latest rant:

The second largest market in the United States does not have an NFL franchise. Fifteen million people can drive to a stadium within two hours on a Sunday afternoon. There are massive numbers of corporations willing to buy luxury boxes, pay for PSLs, buy signage, sponsorships and naming rights. The entertainment industry alone could probably buy out the stadium.

The television market is larger than some countries. The Dodgers and Angels, Clippers and Lakers, Kings and Ducks all play to packed houses -- win or lose. The second NBA team here, the Clippers was purchased last summer for a record $2 billion. Three NFL teams have outs in their leases, allowing them to move. The Gold Rush is on!

The NFL maintains that only the league can approve a stadium project or team move, but teams have moved before, and the league could not stop them. Owners Stan Kroenke (Rams), Dean Spanos (Chargers) and Mark Davis (Raiders) are not waiting. Each of the three teams exist in municipalities that won't approve major public funding for a new stadium. Neither will Los Angeles, but private financing is available. Inglewood and Carson are smaller cities without the delays and resistance of Los Angeles. A stadium brings major benefits and national recognition to either.

The Charger-Raider proposal to share a stadium in Carson is not simply a leverage attempt to pressure their incumbent cities. Neither is the Rams' plan to build in Inglewood. The St. Louis Rams have a Forbes Magazine valuation of $930 million, lowest in the league. The Raiders are valued at $970 million. By comparison, the Dallas Cowboys have a valuation of $3.2 billion.

Any franchise relocating here would soon double their value. That's smart business. What is different from past Southern California football projects is that these are actual NFL owners with the capacity to move, buying tracts of land and announcing their intention to move.

The Chargers have a fan base that has 20 percent to 25 percent located in south Orange County, the Inland Empire and Los Angeles. Two other teams moving into Los Angeles poses a threat to Charger revenue. But they have a loyal fan base who has supported them for years. I have always believed it is not in the best interests of professional sports to allow franchises to desert their long-suffering fans.

Pro teams are not simply private businesses. They claim to be "Your" team with an obligation to support them win or lose. They agree to abide by league rules. When I was Chairman of "Save the Rams" and they abandoned Southern California, it was difficult explaining to my son why a team he thought was as much part of the landscape as Disneyland or the Pacific Ocean, could actually leave. Be careful of breaking fan's hearts.

This scenario is evocative of the Gold Rush that occurred in this state's early history. There is a massive economic bonanza to be realized in Southern California football for the first franchises to stake their claim. It may not always be a smooth process, but the NFL is returning to Los Angeles.

Other than to mock ourselves, there would be no real point for us to run the 40-yard dash and compare times with NFL prospects at the draft combine. The Wonderlic test is safer footing, at least in theory, so we took the plunge to see how we'd stack up on the exam that determines "a person's ability to think, learn, solve problems and follow instructions."

On the latest episode of The Rundown, a collaboration between TYT Sports and ThePostGame, we discuss what we learned from this experience.

Would you want to take the Wonderlic just to see how you'd stack up against NFL stars? If so, just click here, and post your score below. Check back on ThePostGame for more segments of The Rundown.

To spice up the show during its 20th anniversary season, HBO's Real Sports will end each episode with commentary from a comedian rather than host Bryant Gumbel.

Bill Maher, the host of HBO's Real Time, delivered the first of these segments Tuesday night with a twist of a feature from his own show. Here is "New Rules for Real Sports," in which Maher tackles bowling, domestic violence, Olympic sob stories and, of course, marijuana. (NSFW alert for language.)

Lewis Black, Chris Rock and Curb Your Enthusiasm star Susie Essman are scheduled to appear this year.

A growing number of athletes are becoming hooked on heroin, because it is a cheaper alternative than the prescription painkiller they were given for an injury.

HBO's Real Sports takes a closer look at this troubling trend. Here's a preview of the episode that premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT:

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