Tarred and Feathered
It was evident that manager John Farrell and the Boston Red Sox were not going to allow Michael Pineda from modifying the baseball against them two times in the span of ten days.
During Wednesday night’s matchup between the Red Sox and division rival New York Yankees at Fenway Park, Boston’s skipper alerted the umpiring crew in the second inning that Pineda had a foreign substance slathered on his neck. Consequently, umpire Gerry Davis inspected Pineda and immediately ejected him from the game.
As previously noted, this is the second instance this season where Pineda was accused of utilizing pine tar to change the dynamics of the baseball during his outings. On April 10th, Pineda beat the Red Sox by throwing six innings of one hit baseball and striking out seven batters.
Throughout that particular outing, it was speculated by commentators, analysts, and fans alike that the 25-year old right-hander was using pine tar for a competitive advantage, but the defending World Series champions chose not to call him out on it.
Pineda insisted, however, that the substance used in April 10th’s game was just dirt.
Nevertheless, it was confirmed by former Yankee manager and current MLB executive, Joe Torre that pine tar was used and that he personally contacted the Yankees concerning the incident and cautioned them not to let this happen again.
In most cases, an organization that has been warned for blatantly doctoring a baseball will realize they are under a microscope from the league, inform their pitching staff of the consequences, and teach them how to “properly” use substances that enhance their grip.
Michael Pineda apparently did not get the memo.
For almost a century, pitchers have applied illegal substances such as pine tar and sunscreen in order to gain a better hold on the ball and alter its flight path, which ultimately makes the ball more difficult for batters to track and make contact with.
Red Sox fans fondly recall accusations of both Clay Buchholz (against the Toronto Blue Jays) and Jon Lester (Game 1 of the World Series) of modifying the baseball in 2013 with similar materials.
Simply put, it’s part of the game and every pitcher does it.
“I don’t even know if we really wanted to bring it up other than having to,” Red Sox catcher, David Ross stated in a post-game interview. ”It was one of those things with how blatant it was. I’ve heard a lot of nice things about [Pineda] and I know [the Yankees] run a first-class organization over there.”
John Farrell echoed Ross’ sentiments when he stated that, “I could see it from the dugout. It was confirmed by a number of camera angles in the ballpark. And given the last time we faced him, I felt like it was a necessity to say something. I fully respect on a cold night you’re trying to get a little bit of a grip, but when it’s that obvious, something has got to be said.”
The common term tossed out by Ross, Farrell, and the rest of the Red Sox was “blatant” and “obvious.”
“Put it on your hat, put it on your pants, put it on your belt, put it on your glove, whatever you’ve got to do. But at some point, you just can’t do it that blatantly, and I think that’s what the biggest issue was,” said A.J. Pierzynski. “No one has an issue with him doing it. I think it’s more of the fact he just did it so blatantly.”
Questionable ethics aside, there is a “gentlemen’s code” among all teams in Major League Baseball that they do not tattle on opposing pitchers for using a foreign substance for this purpose. But did the Red Sox really have any choice?
It is almost as if Michael Pineda wanted this to happen.
As a result, Pineda has been suspended for ten games and could potentially miss up to two starts. Although sincerely apologetic for his actions after the game, Pineda will need to learn how to either pitch in cold weather or just cheat more effectively.
After missing the previous two seasons, Pineda’s comeback has been a pleasant surprise to the Yankees organization. Thus far, he has posted a 2-2 record with an ERA of 1.83 in four games. The Yankees originally acquired the right-hander from the Seattle Mariners in 2012 in exchange for prized catching prospect, Jesus Montero.