I’m a huge football fan who hasn’t watched professional baseball since the Milwaukee Braves left Wisconsin for Georgia in the 1960s. Originally known as the Boston Braves, the team arrived in Milwaukee in the spring of 1953.

I used to sleep in our screened-in back porch in the summer and listen to the Braves on a small transistor radio. When I was 12 and in the 7th grade, they won the 1957 World Series against the New York Yankees.

Recently, I began watching the Brewers, often taping the games so I can move ‘the action’ along. I still think baseball is boring, like when a pitcher throws 100 pitches to the same batter. At least today, when a pitcher intentionally walks a batter, the player simply heads to first base. No more four useless pitches.

Nowadays, it seems like every player is either chomping on gum or walking around like a chipmunk, their cheeks bulging with sunflower seeds. Both habits involve a lot of spittle, a.k.a. “saliva” or “spit.” One observant fan reported that players, coaches, and managers average one spit every 30 seconds.

I don’t find the gum chewing at games very offensive, although most players chew with their mouths open. As a former gum chewer myself, I realize that’s a total breach of etiquette. However, I enjoy watching the players blow big bubbles, and I’m fascinated by the size of the wads they can stuff into their mouths without choking. Each team stores literally baskets of gum in their dugout.

To be honest, today’s baseball sunflower spitters drive me crazy. They even spit out the hulls while in the batter’s box. I have no idea how they can separate each seed from its shell while in their mouths, but I’m sure they occasionally expel a few seeds along with all the “debris.”

I’m afraid it might get to the point that umpires will have to start carrying pruning shears in their pockets or hats to “harvest” the sunflowers sprouting in the batter’s box.

Like chewing gum, sunflower packets are stored in dugout baskets. I recently noticed that Orlando Arcia, the Brewers’ shortstop, plays with a packet of sunflower seeds tucked in his back pocket. That way, he doesn’t have to wait until he returns to the dugout to dump more seeds into his mouth.

I readily admit I’m not the best role model when it comes to keeping our house clean. I especially hate cleaning our kitchen floor. Thankfully, that’s one of the household chore my husband is really good at.

Each time the Brewer’s dugout is shown on TV, it’s a mess. Paper cups are scattered everywhere, as well as assorted cellophane wrappers. I would like to volunteer my husband for cleanup duty, but first he would have to purchase a hazmat suit (a.k.a. “decontamination suit”) because of all the spittle that never made it onto the grass.

In spite of the above complaints, I realize gum and sunflowers seeds are much better alternatives than the chewing tobacco baseball players embraced years ago.

Leanne Lippincott-Wuerthele, a native of Milton, who has lived in Minnesota and Iowa, has been writing Sunny Side Up for about 40 years. A graduate of Milton Union High School and Milton College, she has written four books. She has two children, three stepchildren, and a blended family that includes 11 grandkids.

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