Complaints about Jones' bubbles are blown out of proportion

As you know, we tackle only hard-hitting subjects in this space. Which is why today's column is on — I wonder whether "60 Minutes" has looked into this — Adam Jones' bubble-blowing.

Let's face it, his bubble-blowing drives some of you nuts.

Maybe you watch him struggle with a ball hit over his head in center field. Or you watch him at the plate, flailing at a breaking ball outside.

In both instances, he's blowing a bubble the size of a dinner plate.

And this really ticks you off.

How do I know it ticks you off?

Because I hear you rant about it on the radio talk shows. And see you write about it on the message boards. And you e-mail me about it constantly.

Oh, yeah, at least a half-dozen times a week, you send me long, plaintive messages detailing another perceived Jones screw-up you've linked to his bubble-blowing.

And you sign off by saying: "AARGH! Why does he keep doing that?!" or "Please make him stop!"

Yes, never have so many been worked up about something so innocuous.

My advice?

Give it a rest, people.

Look, this is a terrific athlete who could probably juggle flaming torches while climbing the fence in center to rob someone of a homer.

And if you know anything about blowing bubbles — embarrassing old-guy disclosure: I have a pack-a-day Trident sugar-free bubblegum habit — it's a totally subconscious thing.

"Honestly, I don't even know I'm doing it," Jones said Wednesday before the Orioles' 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Camden Yards. "I just chew it. I think it's the last thing on my mind."

Except, no, that's not right. Jones doesn't just chew his gum.

Instead, he tears into it the way a starving man tears into a filet mignon.

Which is when he hears from his mom, Andrea Bradley, who has just watched the Orioles game on TV at her home in California.

"My mom always calls and says 'Sometimes when the camera's on you … you probably don't notice it, but you're just slamming that gum, beating it down. What's in there that's that good?' "

"Don't know, Mama," Jones will reply. "Just like chewing gum."

And blowing bubbles.

Which he does relentlessly from the moment he steps onto the field.

Are you kidding? This guy blows bubbles making diving catches. He blows bubbles running the bases. He blows bubbles even as he swings at the plate.

"I've made contact, and there's a bubble at the same time," he said, shaking his head. "It's nuts. It's crazy."

Jones says he has been blowing bubbles during baseball games since his days at Morse High in San Diego.

His brand of choice these days is Dubble Bubble sugarless. And his ferocious chewing and bubble-blowing has attracted a cult following at Camden Yards, especially from the fans in the center-field bleachers.

"The fans tell me all the time to blow a bubble for them," Jones said. "[Or] I got guys on the road telling me, 'Stop blowing that gum!' "

He smiles. "And when they do that, I blow real big bubbles with sweat all over my face. I have fun with it."

Oh, yeah, it's a fun thing.

Which is why I don't get all these readers who get so worked up about Jones' bubble-blowing.

Let me ask you something: Did you watch the All-Star Game last week?

Did you see Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays do a pop-up slide at second base — while blowing a bubble?

Then he sprinted madly for third — while blowing another bubble — on a throwing error by Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo.

Which raises the question: How come Rays fans don't get all over their star third baseman for his serial bubble-blowing during games?

I know, I know … simple answer. Longoria's having another great year: .304 average, 14 homers, 65 RBIs.

And Jones, an All-Star one year ago, got off to a slow start.

But look what's happening now. Quietly, almost under the radar, he's getting his bat going.

He has hit safely in 31 of his past 39 games. He's hitting .316 in that stretch, with nine home runs, 25 RBIs and 26 runs.

He has raised his batting average to .274 and his 15 homers and 41 RBIs are second on the team to Ty Wigginton's 16 homers and 48 RBIs.

"I don't feel any different," Jones said of this hot streak. "It's a six-month season. You're going to go through your ups and downs."

He's definitely in an up cycle now. And guess what? He's still blowing bubbles like a madman, too.

There's a lesson in there somewhere for anyone who dogs the guy about his gum-chewing.

But maybe I should have let "60 Minutes" tell it.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

Listen to Kevin Cowherd from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays with Jerry Coleman on Fox 1370 AM Sports.

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