Michael Pineda has been ejected in the second inning of Wednesday night's game between the Red Sox and Yankees after John Farrell asked the umpires to check Pineda for pine tar.
The pine tar in question was spread liberally on the right side of Pineda's neck. Fairly blatant placement when you consider the fact that his tar-slathered wrist became the center of attention in his last start. NESN's cameras caught it, and within minutes Farrell was headed out to tell the umpires. Home plate umpire Gerry Davis checked the ball, swiped a finger along Pineda's neck, and then signaled the ejection.
It's a fun moment for Red Sox fans, but also one that might come back to bite them depending on how pitchers and managers see this sort of thing. It's one of baseball's worst-kept secrets that pitchers throughout the league use pine tar and other substances to get a better grip on the ball. It's even accepted by hitters because, generally speaking, this helps give pitchers the control to not hit them in the face with 95 MPH fastballs. Win - win.
The question is: do other pitchers and managers care about Pineda's lack of discretion? Do they make the distinction between what Pineda was doing and what, say, John Lackey might well be doing opposite Pineda if he's hidden a substance on the bill of his cap?
If so, then this is probably no big deal. Call it a message from the fraternity of pitchers--John Farrell being a former pitcher in his own right--to start toeing he line.
If not, however...Well, when you break an unwritten rule, things can get ugly. If other pitchers and managers don't care about pretending to uphold an all-but-ignored prohibition, then Farrell's transgression will likely have earned the Red Sox a lot of trouble. Make no mistake, Boston's clubhouse is not without its pine tar--or in the case of Clay Buchholz, Bullfrog--users. If Farrell has in fact broken the truce, it's only a matter of time before they start getting checked, and maybe start getting tossed.