As Michael Pineda played a terrific game against the Boston Red Sox, the talk was not about his pitching, but about what was in his hand. During the course of his seventh inning game, the camera caught what seemed to be a foreign oily residue on his pitching hand, which is illegal and considered cheating under MLB rules and regulations. It was announced, however, that Michael Pineda will not be suspended for having the illegal substance on his hand. The substance, which seemed to be pine tar, was also shown being applied on Pineda’s fingers prior to some of his pitches. It came as no surprise that Michael Pineda claimed it was dirt and not pine tar. After all, why would he voluntarily admit to violating this longstanding rule. However, what has surprised many that follow baseball, was the apathetic response by club officials.
Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters that it’s common during cold weather games to seek a better grip when he referenced the Micheal Pineda and the pine tar on his hand. Farrell expressed his distaste, however, for the nonchalant manner in which Pineda attempted to hide the illegal substance. Although the Boston game announcers did enough complaining and aired their gripes about the pitcher’s alleged illegal action on air, the Red Sox did not share the same sentiments. The organization also did not protest when the news was announced that Michael Pineda will not be suspended.
Boston’s pitcher Clay Buchholz has been accused of using an illegal substance, which appeared to look like pine tar last May, which might be the primary reason that the Red Sox chose not to complain about Pineda. Although it is a clear MLB violation to use pine tar, it is implied and even admitted by most pitchers that almost all of them use some sort of substance for gaining a better grip of the baseball. Batters have also stated that they prefer pitchers who use pine tar or anything that can give them a better grip, especially since it would cut down on batters getting hit by wild pitches. The fact that a rule is openly violated, does not say much about the umpires who enforce the rules. Nevertheless, it does say a lot about those who make them.
Along with the inability to work with Alex Rodriguez, the only thing MLB commissioner Bud Selig and the MLBPA have in common is their joint disregard for Rule 8.02 Article 4.
One of the Yankees managing greats and now MLB’s VP of baseball operations, Joe Torre, announce that Pineda would not be suspended for the alleged illegal substance on his hand. Many members of the press have asked, why there isn’t a rule change if the substance is widely accepted. Perhaps, it might be the relationship between Selig and the MLBPA that is delaying the rule change from going forward. As of now, pine tar is still illegal under MLB rules but its still being disregard by most players, umpires, and Michael Pineda among other pitchers in the league.
Commentary by Hector Carrion