Michael Pineda is a starting pitcher for the New York Yankees, the highest profile baseball team in history, and yet when he got busted on Wednesday night for having pine tar on his neck, nobody seemed to care. It is further proof, following a string of blatant acts of cheating, that it simply does not matter to anyone in MLB. It does not matter because cheating has become widely accepted in baseball, and usually it is chalked up to just being part of the game.
To make matters worse for Pineda, this is the second time he has been discovered doctoring the baseball in the last two weeks. In a game against the Red Sox on April 10, cameras picked up on a foreign substance covering the inside palm on his throwing hand. At the time, nobody kicked up a fuss and Pineda was warned, but not ejected or fined. Fast forward less than two weeks and this time the sticky pine tar could be found just below his right ear, on the upper portion of his neck. Rule 8.02 (b) of the MLB rule book clearly states that a pitcher is prohibited from using a foreign substance to doctor up the baseball. Red Sox manager, John Farrell, spotted the substance and asked for a closer examination by the team of umpires—the substance was discovered and Pineda was ejected from the game in the second inning.
The question becomes why did John Farrell not say anything during the April 10 meeting when there was clear proof that Michael Pineda was doctoring the ball? The simple answer is that it is something that has been happening in baseball forever, and to players and managers it simply does not matter.
Just last season, in Game 1 of the World Series, Boston Red Sox pitcher, Jon Lester, was caught by television cameras with a glob of neon green goo on the inside webbing of his mitt. A blatant foreign substance could be seen, with some suggesting that the inside of his glove had been lined with Vaseline. A clear violation of Rule 8.02 (b), correct? Yes, however there was silence from the Cardinals’ dugout, and Lester was left in the game without any type of warning.
Most likely, pitchers have been using some type of sticky substance to get a better grip on the ball since the invention of the game, and nowadays with a ball having a life span of roughly six pitches, it is understandable that the ball may be slippery. Still, it is a clear violation of the rule and until the rule is changed, it should be considered cheating. Former White Sox manager, Ozzie Guillen, once said that everyone cheats, and if the player does not get caught, then that makes them smart—but if they get caught, then they are cheating. It is this line of thinking that further proves that it does not matter if a guy like Michael Pineda was doctoring the ball with a foreign substance. After all, cheating can be chalked up to being just a part of the game.
Commentary by Johnny Caito