If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s the mindset New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda had when he stepped to the mound Wednesday night against the Boston Red Sox. Pineda has been caught by cameras using what appeared to be pine tar in every one of his starts thus far in 2014.
No team challenged the alleged substance until Wednesday night, when he was ejected from the game in the second inning for having pine tar on his neck.
Clearly this is problematic for the Yankees as one of their most dominant pitchers will most likely be suspended by the league just days after another starter in Ivan Nova was diagnosed with a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament. However, the Yankees have a bigger problem on their hands. In the short term, the team now needs two temporary starters to fill in the rotation for a couple weeks. The real issue is the newly apparent head case in Pineda.
Pineda pulled the ultimate, ‘are you kidding me?’ moment in sports thus far in 2014. Ever since Pineda’s foreign substance-use was made a spectacle by just about every sports media outlet after the first time he faced the Red Sox, you’d think Pineda, or even a coach, would make sure he didn’t try to pull the same stunt twice.
Either he was simply foolish enough to think he wouldn’t get caught, or Pineda seriously needs pine tar to be a successful pitcher. Both circumstances are nightmarish for the Yankees.
It makes too much sense. Who better a candidate than a bitter rival, at their stadium, on ESPN, to expose Pineda? His mishap could send the Yankees spiraling downward after jumping out to first place in the AL East. The team is now left without two starting pitchers and was embarrassed in front of the world in Fenway Park.
Look for 2014 to be the start of the pine tar war between the Yanks and the Sox. It’ll be interesting to see what gesture Girardi makes the next time Clay Buchholz takes the mound in the Bronx, another pitcher with ties to pine tar in his career.