Had he not been so blatant, few, if anybody would’ve said a word. Of course this is Red Sox-Yankees weekend, and nothing goes unnoticed. Nothing out of the ordinary gets by the small Army of analysts, media members, and the like between these two teams, so why would the so-called “foreign substance” on Yankees’ starter Michael Pineda‘s pitching hand Thursday night be any different?
According to Pineda after the game, the substance was simply dirt that he used because his hand was sweaty. Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi flat out did not want to discuss the issue, and Red Sox skipper John Farrell made it a non-issue. The substance looked very similar to pine tar, and was first noticed during the television broadcast of Thursday night’s game on the Red Sox NESN channel. Regardless of what may or may not have been on Pineda’s throwing hand, he simply dominated the Boston Red Sox over 6 innings, allowing only 1 earned run, and striking out 7. Through two starts in 2014, he has struck out 12 in 12 innings of work. He is quickly re-establishing himself as a power pitcher and one the Yankees can lean on every five days.
My first win at Yankee Stadium, my first time pitching at Yankee Stadium…I’m very, very excited tonight.
~Yankees’ starter Michael Pineda
Perhaps the controversy was a non-issue to the Red Sox after two incidents involving their starting pitchers was brought up last season. One involving Pineda’s mound opponent Clay Buchholz, the other during last year’s postseason and lefty Jon Lester. According to Farrell, by the time he became aware of the situation, the substance on Pineda’s hand was gone. As All-Star second baseman Dustin Pedroia added after the game: “I thought he was great…I have pine tar on my bat. That’s a non-issue. I thought he was better than us tonight.” Even umpiring crew chief Brian O’Nora wasn’t able to do anything about the possible infraction stating: “No one said a word…The Red Sox didn’t bring it to our attention, so there’s nothing we can do about it.”
You be the judge…
While the game is filled with “unwritten rules,” some teams such as the Toronto Blue Jays has an issue last year with Buchholz using what one might term a “foreign substance” to get a better grip on the baseball, while the Red Sox themselves seem to have zero issue with it across the board. Perhaps there is honor among thieves…the Red Sox can’t bark too loud primarily because their pitchers have done it in the past, and by the time they became aware of the situation, the “pine tar” was no longer on Pineda’s hand. Pineda will claim dirt until the end of time. We aren’t scientists, but what we saw on his hand Thursday night was in no way dirt from this plant. Mud? Maybe, but doubtful. I’m more inclined to believe that Pineda was a tad more cavalier about his behavior than he should have been, because now, other teams will be looking closer at his hand each time he takes the bump.
Even if he hadn’t been using a grip substance on a cold night, there is no doubt in this viewer’s mind, that he would’ve dominated the Red Sox regardless. He’s looking sharp, and he couldn’t be a greater gift to the Yankees, especially after the less than stellar start to the 2014 season for rotation mates C.C. Sabathia and Ivan Nova. If you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying. Isn’t that the old mantra of ballplayers? With that said, I’ll leave you with one of the better clips from the recently celebrated 25th anniversary of one of the greatest baseball movies of all-time: Major League!