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Michael Pineda's pine tar problem highlights flaw in rules

Michael Pineda was ejected from Wednesday night's game for using a foreign substance. So what's the issue with pine tar?

Jared Wickerham

BOSTON -- There was no way that Michael Pineda could be foolish enough to blatantly show that he was using pine tar again after the media firestorm that ensued following the Red Sox - Yankees game less than two weeks ago. Nobody could be so misguided that they would make an act of "cheating" so obvious again, right?


"I feel so sad," Pineda bluntly said after the game.

"It was an error in judgment," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Meanwhile in the Red Sox clubhouse, the sentiment was universal.

"Grip is very important, but I think if that was not that case, a lot of guys would be walking around in a wheel chair because it's cold," said pitching coach Juan Nieves. "You cannot be that blatant about it. I think using the rosin bag is very important also."

"It's surprising especially being on TV the first time we played them but every pitcher does it," said first baseman Mike Napoli. "You can't blatantly have it out there showing. It's just kind of silly."

"You just can't do it that blatantly," said catcher A.J. Pierzynski. "That's it."

While the Red Sox were seemingly in unison regarding the blatancy of Pineda's use of pine tar, players who spoke post-game also seemed to have a similar regarding to use of foreign substances by pitchers.

"It's one of those things that we all know that everyone does it," Pierzynski said. "I'm all for it. Everyone has something. Catchers have pine tar on their shin guards all of the time. It's not a big deal. As long as it's not blatant, you're not putting it out there for the whole world to see."

"A lot of pitchers in the league do it," Napoli said. "You don't really see spots like that so blatantly. I'd rather a guy have control over his ball when it's cold, but you can't do it that way."

Considering last year's controversy with Clay Buchholz's "Bull Frog" sunscreen, what is the appropriate thing to do moving forward regarding substances such as pine tar and sun screen?

Simple: legalize it. Everyone already does it and hides it in some way shape or form. If the majority of the pitching population already uses something to get a better grip on the ball, there's no point in putting a blind eye to the matter at hand and ignoring the fact that all pitchers use something.

It's also important to point out the distinction between using pine tar and using a slippery substance such as Vaseline or spit to put more movement on the ball. The use of substance such as pine tar and sun screen mostly has to do with getting a better grip on the ball. Pitchers are trying to better control their pitches in an attempt to throw more strikes. This is not Gaylord Perry trying to use the spitball to create an unpredictable fastball. Pitchers are using pine tar to make the outcome of their pitches more predictable, not less.

Michael Pineda's embarrassment Wednesday night didn't stem from his use of pine tar to get a better grip. The embarrassment resulted from his lack of judgment. The Red Sox weren't angry that Pineda used pine tar. They were angry because he was so obviously using it. In fact, if pine tar prevented pitchers from being erratic and putting hitters in wheelchairs, as Nieves so wonderfully put it, there is a benefit to hitters in regards pitchers using pine tar.

If pitchers need to use it on days where the wind is blowing 20 mph to get better control and hitters are fine with it, there is no point in making pine tar and other sticky substances illegal. If both sides are pro-pitchers using pine tar, the solution is simple: Legalize it.