So, apparently, Derek Jeter’s leadership only goes so far.
It doesn’t reach all the way to stupidity. Michael Pineda decided he didn’t care about TV cameras. He didn’t care about baseball rules. He didn’t care about subtlety. He was going to cheat, and he didn’t care who knew about it.
And he got caught. He left no other option.
What’s almost as bad is the reaction by people.
The ones that really get me are the ones that suggest this is ok because it helps him get a grip on the ball. It’s not like doctoring the ball to affect its flight. This is just about getting a grip.
Doesn’t getting a better grip affect the flight of the ball? Pineda seemed to think so. After all, his reasoning was that he couldn’t get a feel for the ball in the first inning, so he added pine tar in the second so he wouldn’t hit anybody. So, using the pine tar allowed him to have the ball go where he wanted it to go. Without the illegal substance, he couldn’t do it. Sounds like the flight of the ball was affected. If he couldn’t feel the ball, shouldn’t he have adjusted somehow? Perhaps he needed to throw it slower to be able to control it? Instead, he chose to enhance his performance by using a substance. How is this not cut and dry?
This reminds me of the PED sympathizers who say, “PEDs don’t help you hit a curveball.” Ignoring the fact that, while that’s true, they help you hit it a lot further when you do hit it. Or, that Andy Pettitte’s PEDs weren’t really “performance enhancing” since he only used them to get back on the field after an injury. Ignoring the fact that if you’re not on the field, it certainly affects your performance.
This is the same thing. Pineda was able to pitch better with the pine tar than he was without it. End of story.
The other group is the one saying that now the Red Sox pitchers better watch out. The Yankees announces were using that one before Pineda even made it to the dugout. Girardi’s going to be checking them every inning the rest of the way. I’ll ignore the pettiness in that argument. “You caught me cheating, so I’m going to catch you!” The problem I have is that, as memory serves, none of the Red Sox pitchers have been accused of using illegal substances. I remember Buchholz saying something about water, sunscreen, and rosin. Unlike Pineda’s “dirt” excuse from last time, I don’t recall anyone refuting that. Rosin is certainly a legal substance. They provide a bag of it right on the mound. Water is legal, as long as it’s not applied to the ball. Every pitcher has plenty of water waiting for him in the dugout. Pretty sure it’s been spilled many times as they splash cups of it into their face. And, I imagine, sunscreen is probably encouraged by MLB. So, if using a legal substance allows you to get a better grip on the ball, it’s a whole other non-issue.
Now, if you want to say Clay shouldn’t be wearing sunscreen during a night game in a dome, there’s an argument to be made. But, I don’t think the rule is a varying one. It’s not like blowing on your hands where the umpire decides at the beginning of the game whether it’s allowed or not. It certainly could be. They could say, “Today sunscreen will be allowed” before the first pitch. They don’t.
Is it a fine line? Absolutely. Is there a fine line between being able to surgically replace a tendon in your elbow with a stronger one, and not being able to take a pill to make a muscle stronger? Absolutely. But, in each case there’s a line.
And Pineda jumped right over it.