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The ethics of feeding Mitch Haniger candy

Casey Schmitt’s Sour Patch Kid strategy with Mitch Haniger has worked two days in a row — but at what cost?

Billboard Winterfest at Park City Live! Day 1 - 2016 Park City Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images for Billboard

The San Francisco Giants have won 10 of their last 12 heading into today’s series finale in Milwaukee. They’ve surged to a winning record, and this weekend, we’ve seen one of their big free agent signings, Mitch Haniger, surge in his slash line, hitting .317/.349/.512 since May 15 (43 PA). That includes two home runs, hit yesterday and Friday, and those appear to be thanks, in part, to some Sour Patch Kids shared with him by Casey Schmitt.

I’m digging Casey Schmitt because

  • he’s good
  • he plays with a lot of youthful energy the Giants have lacked
  • there’s a twinkle in his eye

When I see Schmitt, I think “there’s a man who embodies mirth.”

I like that he’s always snacking, because — again — he has a youthful metabolism the Giants’ clubhouse has lacked. I like that grumpy old veteran Mitch Haniger has to watch himself around this kid. From yesterday’s post by Taylor Wirth on NBC Sports Bay Area:

Haniger, who is on a strict diet, has a love/hate relationship with the young infielder supplying the candy.

“I get on him for always bringing food into the dugout,” Haniger joked with reporters postgame. “But he gave me Sour Patch yesterday and today, so we’ll keep it going.”

It is the official position of McCovey Chronicles that baseball players should have fun and lean into superstition whenever possible. Casey Schmitt creating one out of Sour Patch Kids can only add to his legend.

But here’s where I become the Fun Police.

At what cost, Casey? At what cost?

Forget candy’s lack of health benefits — I figure a professional athlete is gonna burn the empty calories from a single Sour Patch in the course of a game with no deleterious effect to, like, his gut... but his teeth?

Casey Schmitt, I know you look at numbers. The team forces them on players as a condition of their employment (I assume). Have you seen the numbers on Sour Patch Kids? I’m not talking spin rates or velo here either, kid. I’m talking about tooth enamel and the pH scale!

The Minnesota Dental Association put out a list back in 2011 of the most acidic candy which the University of Alabama would later add to; the lower the number on the pH scale (pH = “potential of Hydrogen”), the more acidic a substance.

Water (neutral) = 7.0
Tooth enamel burns away = 4.0
Orange juice = 3.81
Sweetarts = 3.0
Sour Gummi Bears = 3.0
Skittles = 2.5
Starburst = 2.4
Lemon Heads = 2.4
Wonka Fun Dip Powder = 1.8
Literally battery acid = 1.0

Now, look, this isn’t some sort of scold — I love that this could be a thing. I just want to point out the risks involved. There does not currently exist dental technology capable of restoring tooth enamel. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. A dentist explained it to me that the mouth is complicated, and all the bacteria living in there can’t just be dealt with artificially in the way that we do with other parts of our body.

There’s just a risk that Mitch Haniger could go from looking like this:

Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

To this:

Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images (modified by McCovey Chronicles)

As a proponent of comedy and my favorite team hitting home runs, I’m all for image two, but is it the right thing to do? Should I be concerned or complaining about the manner in which I’m provided entertainment?

The only real way to mitigate the damage caused by eating one (1) Sour Patch Kid before each game is by using products that reinforce the remaining enamel. Or — and, I can’t stress it enough that I very much want Mitch Haniger to keep hitting dingers — replace the ritual with something less acidic.

I guess the bigger question that we and Casey Schmitt need to ask ourselves is this: is Mitch Haniger losing a tooth or two worth because of acidic candy worth it if it means the Giants make it into the postseason?