Does pitcher Michael Pineda have what it takes to remain in the New York Yankee rotation? It might be a good question to consider while the substance abuser serves out a suspension that will certainly be announced shortly
Pineda is currently the Yankees fifth starter, and his results so far this season have been somewhat stained. During his first outing of 2014 against the Boston Red Sox a couple of weeks ago, cameras caught him with what appeared to be a substance strikingly similar to pine tar on his pitching hand.
Fortunately for Pineda, who swore on a stack of Bibles that the slimy substance was nothing more than dirt to control sweat, the Boston dugout never caught on. As a result, the subject pretty much faded to the back pages of Yankees-Red Sox folklore. Violating Rule 8.02(b), however, which bans possession of foreign substances, was apparently so easy for Pineda during his first game between the rivals, that he couldn’t resist giving it another try during his second outing last night at Fenway Park
After a first inning filled with control problems, as well as 4 hits and 2 runs, Pineda turned up to toss the second inning with a streak of pine tar on his neck. And I’m not talking about a discreet little dab either. It was large enough that he could have applied it with a meat brush, and just as artistically.
A pitcher using pine tar to get a better grip on a slippery ball in cool weather is not new. Several pitchers have been accused of using the substance, including Boston’s John Lester, who was called out by Jack Morris. Some have been caught, such as Tampa Bay’s Joe Peralta, busted by the Washington Nationals in 2012 because he used to play for Davey Johnston, who, as team manager, was familiar with the pitcher’s strategy.
Rule 8.02, however, is more of a guideline observed with a wink and a nod, as opposed to a serious violation, and provided the infraction is not overly obvious, it falls into the “who cares” column in baseball’s ethics department.
But someone needs to explain to Michael Pineda that it’s not a good idea to show up on the pitcher’s mound looking like he’s been assaulted by a vat of Aunt Jemima’s syrup. More precisely, Yankee officials should probably have a chat with the pitcher they acquired in a blockbuster trade with Seattle two years ago, and ask, “dude, why the pine tar?
Why so much? Why be so obvious? Why risk embarrassing your team? Is it really worth a suspension?
Fans, Yankee officials, Major League Baseball, and anyone else can speculate on why Pineda would be so stupid as to blatantly broadcast his tactics on television. But answers might just reflect the player’s own perception that he’s no longer the All-Star rookie phenom from 2011, with the 96MPH fastball and wicked slider.
After 2 years on the DL, Pineda is the product of a trade that has so far been a bust for New York, so there’s a lot of pressure on the pitcher, who manager Joe Girardi describes as “a young kid… who used bad judgement” by repeatedly relying on pine tar to grip his pitches. The fact remains, however, that Pineda must eventually prove he still has the goods to be a big league ball player.
With a major league career that consists of only 190 innings pitched, over 32 starts, and an 11-11 won/loss record, mostly in Seattle 3 seasons ago, there isn’t enough data to determine if Pineda is worthy of that 5th spot in the Yankee rotation. Any numbers compiled so far this season have been overshadowed by the pine tar allegations.
To regain self-confidence and the confidence of those around him, he needs quality starts, solid results, and some serious stats, regardless of how slippery his balls are.
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Thanks for reading! “Testiclees” is a freelance writer, based in Seattle, who lives out his real-life under the fictitious name of Scott Gentry. Readers can view his blog at testeeawards.wordpress.com, interact with him @testeeawards on Twitter, email at [email protected] or “like” on Facebook. Give us a follow while you’re at it – @LastWordOnSport, and “Like” our Facebook page!
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