Michael Piñeda knew that he would be watched closely during last night’s start in Boston, considering that he had been questioned for allegedly using pine tar in his last outing against the Red Sox.
Nonetheless, after a rough first inning in which he allowed two runs, the pitcher walked out to the mound to pitch the second with a large smear of pine tar on the side of his neck.
Sox Skipper John Farrell seemed almost apologetic for having to say something to the home-plate umpire:
“You could see it. 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,” Farrell said after the Red Sox’s 5-1 win at Fenway Park. “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.”
For violating Rule 8.02(a), Piñeda was ejected from the game and faces a ten-game suspension.
Meanwhile, David Schoenfield of ESPN SweetSpot raises questions about this type of cheating:
The trouble, of course, is even if all the players generally accept substances like pine tar and sunscreen as part of the unwritten rules of baseball: How should you legislate their usage? Right now, those are foreign substances and, by rule, are illegal. The Red Sox were certainly within their right to request a check on Pineda.
Are there levels of cheating? Steroids are evil bad stuff but pine tar is OK? But what about Whitey Ford’s mud or Don Sutton’s sandpaper? What if some pitchers can throw a better slider by applying a little extra pine tar on the right spot on the ball?
It’s certainly a slippery slope and as baseball wrestles with some of the issues involving instant replay or the new transfer rule, it has another can of worms (or cans of spray-on sunscreen) to deal with. If you’re all about enforcing the rules — whether it’s catching steroids users or defining a catch — do you start enforcing the use of foreign substances by pitchers?