April 26, 2014

Pineda Stays True to His Name

By - Keith Smith

If you go and research the history of the Spanish name "Pineda," you will find that one of the meanings of the word is "pine forest."

You can't make this up.

Yankee pitcher Michael Pineda has lived up to his name over the past two weeks. Back on April 10th, Pineda was caught by ESPN cameras with a wad of pine tar on the palm of his hand while pitching against the Boston Red Sox. By the time the message had been relayed to Boston's bench, Pineda had washed the substance off. This past Wednesday night, in a rematch with the Sox, the cameras again saw Pineda with a large swath of the dark, sticky substance applied to the back of his neck.

This time, word made it to Sox manager John Farrell in time for him to complain to home plate umpire Gerry Davis, who ejected Pineda after finding the foreign substance on his person.

Photo by: Getty Images
The next day, Pineda was suspended 10 games. To his credit, he has admitted guilt, not that he could've denied it. He had enough of the stuff on him both times to waterproof a house. Pineda also said he wouldn't appeal the decision.

"I'll accept it because I know I made a mistake," the 25-year-old told ESPN. "That's it."

The most disturbing part of this, at least for me, is the number of announcers, ex-players and news media who seemingly have absolutely no problem with the fact that Pineda cheated. Their only problem is that he did it so openly.

I've heard both former pitchers and hitters say that the use of pine tar is commonplace, and how it's simply to help them get a better grip on the ball in cold weather, not gain an advantage by making the ball move like the old spit balls used to.

Yet, those same guys will complain about steroid users and how they have destroyed the integrity of the game.

Maybe I'm too much of a rule follower, but to me, cheating is cheating. If it's against the rules, it's cheating. If it's gaining an advantage through illegal means, it's cheating. If the rule book specifically prohibits something, it's not okay to do.

They write that thing for a reason, people.

Baseball fans screamed when Sammy Sosa was caught using a loaded bat. Everyone is calling for asterisks on all the records set by steroid users. But somehow, using pine tar to get a better snap on a curveball is somehow looked at as alright?

Someone please tell me what I'm missing here?

I'm glad that Pineda was suspended 10 games. I'm sure we'll hear from several people who think pine tar used by pitchers is just "part of the game" and how this is "too harsh" of a penalty for such a small infraction. But as a guy who used to face dudes throwing 90-plus mph fastballs, I think it's more than fair.

In fact, he's technically only going to miss 2 lousy starts, so if you ask me, the penalty isn't harsh enough. Make him miss 5 starts, not 10 games. Then you're talking about a punishment that hits home.

Maybe then Michael "Pine Forest" will think before he chooses to live up to his name again.

1 comment:

  1. Firstly, baseball fans are historically tired of the 'everyone does it' argument. Secondly, with that said, I don't think players or fans would be bothered if they made controlled access to pine tar legal in the same way as rosin bags are used, perhaps to be reserved for games where weather conditions aren't great.