I’m sure I’ll be one of those people that get labelled a homer, that as a Yankees’ fan and someone who covers the team every day, that I am willing to look the other way when someone on the team breaks the rules. I’m here to tell you that’s not how I feel at all. If you are familiar with most of my writing, I should be, and rightfully so, considered one of the most critical voices on the Yankees you can find anywhere. I don’t just drink the Kool-Aid because that flavor may be pinstriped. I’m not an organizational man, never being one to criticize and just nodding my head in agreement. That’s just not me. I think Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi both should’ve been out of jobs years ago. How they continue to lead the Bronx Bombers is beyond me. But now, we will finally get down to business, which is the hot topic of last night and around baseball today: Michael Pineda‘s use of pine tar in last night’s game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
I think it’s a little unfair that the ESPN baseball crew were so fast to crucify Pineda. Rick Sutcliffe of all people knows better than to yap his trap about anything Pineda was or wasn’t doing. He played in an era with a handful of the most famous “ball doctors” of all-time in Hall of Fame members Gaylord Perry and Don Sutton just to name a couple. One of baseball’s unwritten rules, yes, those pesky unwritten rules, is “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.” It works for hitters too. Corked bats (Graig Nettles, Albert Belle, Sammy Sosa), too much pine tar on the bat (George Brett), and so on. Let’s not make the Michael Pineda situation a federal case. You could tell that Red Sox skipper John Farrell really, really did not want to go down that path and rat out Pineda. But come on, how much more obvious could he have been? Did he not learn his lesson last week when I personally viewed at least 5 different photos posted on various sites, along with multiple video clips of pine tar on his pitching hand?
Farrell didn’t want to rat Pineda out because he is a former pitcher. He gets it. Two of his own guys have been suspected of using a foreign substance last season, one of which occurred during the World Series. It’s an acceptable practice in the big leagues, but you can’t be arrogant OR ignorant about it. You can’t wave it in your opponent’s faces and not expect them to say something. The reality of it is, the Red Sox had the game under control from the first inning forward last night. Pineda didn’t use the pine tar in the first inning, and the Red Sox put up two runs. That was all they needed, as the BoSox won the game 5-1.
Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets were going nuts last night, calling Pineda everything from “idiot” to “cheater” to “jackass.” Sure, any of those labels might be applicable to his actions, but not to the person. Everyone makes poor choices in life, and everyone makes mistakes. Yes, Michael Pineda should shoulder the blame, and to his credit, he faced the music in front of his locker with the media after the game. He didn’t shower and beat it out of the locker room. He took accountability for his actions–but only because he got caught.
Here’s my question: for the Yankees to be the supposed “class organization” that they claim to be, where were Pineda’s teammates, coaches, and manager leading up to the second inning? If ESPN could spot a shiny streak from their camera positions, which led to Pineda’s inspection and ejection, are you really going to tell me that Brian McCann, Larry Rothschild or Joe Girardi didn’t see anything? Really? They as members of the team, are on the hook for a certain level of blame for allowing such an ignorant move to take place. Put it on your pants, your belt, your mitt, the bill of your cap, ANYWHERE but on the back of your neck. The Yankees as an organization should be embarrassed for allowing Pineda to get tossed, not because he cheated, but because it could’ve been avoided had they looked after their starting pitcher.
Now, Joe Torre will most likely hand down between an 8 and 10 game suspension, which means Pineda misses one whole turn in the rotation. His surgically-repaired shoulder gets some early rest, the Yankees spot start David Phelps, and the Yankees remain in first place. Again, not quite the Kennedy Assassination, but if you have read or watched anything over the past 12-18 hours, you might think otherwise.