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Smoke 'em if you got 'em... or not

Is this gamesmanship by the Mets or just douchebaggery?

Puffing on his usual postgame cigar, Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox flashed a startled look when asked what he thought of Shea Stadium's total ban on smoking.

"You mean the new one?" he asked, referring to Citi Field, where the New York Mets will begin playing in 2009.

No, skipper. The Mets announced in March that they were going smoke-free in their final season at Shea Stadium. The only area where smokers can light up is a designated area outside the park.

Which brings us to Cox, the longtime Braves manager and cigar aficionado. He'll be at Shea this weekend when the Braves face the Mets in a three-game series.

"I think that's a great idea," he said after Monday night's 7-3 victory over Washington at Turner Field (which, by the way, is listed as "a primarily smoke-free facility," according to the team's Web site, and lighting up is allowed only in certain entryways, stairwells and landings).

Even for himself?

"The clubhouse doesn't count," Cox quipped.

The Mets said they will speak with Cox about the new policy.

The answer is neither. It's a singling out of smoking tobacco when the real problem around baseball that teams should be addressing is smokeless tobacco. Is Cox being singled out? Probably not, but he's also not being shown any deference as one of the stalwarts of this league.