Less than two weeks ago in a start against the Red Sox, Michael Pineda was obnoxiously obvious in his use of pine tar, or some sort of foreign substance. The Yankees starter wanted us all to believe it was dirt smeared by sweat all over the palm of his hand, but nobody was buying it. Fortunately for him, nobody was willing to press the issue either, certainly not the organization that lived through controversies in 2013 involving Clay Buchholz’s Bullfrog and Jon Lester’s glove gunk in the World Series.
He got a free pass from Major League Baseball, and little more than a few barbs from Boston players for being too obvious. Apparently, though, he didn’t receive much of a talking to behind closed doors.
After days of discussion on the issue, including pregame media conferences and scrums with managers and players during this very series, Pineda decided to press his luck once more, this time layering what looked again to be pine tar on his neck.
How stupid could a person be? Seriously.
This isn’t homerism. If a Red Sox player was under the spotlight for supposed cheating and pulled the same stunt against the same opponent in the very next meeting without fear of penalty, I’d be equally curious how many fruits came in the basket.
With Pineda’s latest stunt, he’ll almost assuredly receive a 10-game suspension. Broken down, that may as well be one game for the use of pine tar, two games for doing it twice, and seven games for belligerent buffoonery.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said prior to the game on Wednesday, “I would expect that if [the pine tar] is used, it will be more discreet than last time.”
Not on his hat. Not on his belt. Not on his shoe.
Instead, it glistened off his neck under the evening lights. Give him a hand for trying something different. At least that’d be clean this time.
Farrell didn’t sit back. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Or, as President George W. Bush said…well, you can’t get fooled again.
With that – and a swipe of Pineda’s neck, only 1 2/3 innings into his outing – umpire Gerry Davis made the only call he could. The pitcher was out. It’s amazing Davis didn’t walk back to his post behind the plate laughing the whole way.
Pineda's decision was beyond dumb; it was selfish, and it may very well have cost the Yankees the game. Debate the importance of a contest on a chilly night in late-April if you’d like, but all 162 count the same in the end, even for clubs currently in first-place.
Maybe his teammates or skipper Joe Girardi should have stopped Pineda, since it’s impossible no one in his dugout noticed the infraction. Maybe he’s solely to blame. That doesn’t really matter.
What does, of course, is an incident that could have been avoided by sheer common-sense. This isn’t about pine tar or whatever the substance; it’s about the principle, which Pineda laughed at.
Now, with good reason, everyone is laughing at him.
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