There is a new “Pine Tar Incident” and this time, the New York Yankees are on the losing end.
In a wild turn of events after a protest from the Boston Red Sox, Michael Pineda was ejected in the second inning when the umpires discovered pine tar on his neck. Pineda already had a target on his back after his April 10 victory over Boston, where television cameras spotted a substance on his palm during the game.
Unlike George Brett in 1983, Pineda nor Joe Girardi charged after the umpires and went into a psychotic rage. Pineda just shook his head and calmly walked from the mound. Girardi merely signaled for David Phelps to start warming up. I think pitching coach Larry Rothschild yawned.
The use of pine tar was so blatant that nothing could be said. The cameras picked up the shimmer on Pineda’s neck immediately. It is no wonder that John Farrell, the Red Sox bench and the entire population of Boston pointed and screamed at the mound. The momentum permanently swung in Boston’s favor and they came away with an easy 5-1 victory.
Major League Baseball Rule 8.02 warrants an ejection and automatic suspension, so this foolish display by Pineda will cost the Yankees more than just this game. The pitching rotation will be interrupted and worse, Pineda will be the target of scrutiny for the rest of the season.
This incident will come up in interviews, analyzed by every talking head from New York to San Francisco and fans of every team in the League will rain down on Pineda every time he pitches. He has drawn attention to himself in a way that could have been completely prevented and should have been, simply based on the negative attention from the April 10 brouhaha.
Let’s be honest, though. Using pine tar in baseball is like going five miles over the speed limit on the highway, everybody is doing it and nobody is saying much. Farrell admitted prior to the game that discreet use of pine tar is widespread in baseball. What Pineda did however, was like laying drag and shooting fire out of the exhaust pipe right in front of 10 state troopers. He pushed his luck and his bluff was called.
For the Yankees, this distraction could affect their tenuous hold on first place in the American League East. The other pitchers and players will have to answer questions about their knowledge of Pineda’s pine tar use, their feelings on the subject and whether they have used it themselves. The media will run with this for weeks and the rest of baseball will feel the heat.
Why? Because it happened to the most popular baseball franchise against their chief rival on national television. Cameras will zero in on the mound even more to find blatant offenders. Pitchers will be like Eddie Harris from the movie “Major League,” they will be rubbing jalapeno in their noses and hiding Crisco on their chests.
The newest “Pine Tar Incident” will not be famous like the first, one that was marked by one of the most spectacular tirades in sports history and Billy Martin‘s gamesmanship. This incident will be infamous because the word “cheater” will again rear its ugly head in baseball. The pine tar rule needs to be addressed and tonight may be the agent of change baseball needed.
Brad Stephens is an SEC Football writer for Rantsports.com. Feel free to follow on Twitter @bradstephens320 or add him to your Google network.