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Major League Baseball will reexamine pine tar rule after the season

Apr 26, 2014, 2:05 PM EDT

Gerry David, Michael Pineda Gerry David, Michael Pineda

In Wednesday night’s start against the Red Sox, Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected in the second inning after he was caught with pine tar on his neck. Major League Baseball handed down a 10-game suspension the next day for the right-hander’s violation of the rules.

Pineda’s shame may only last through the season, however. In a report by the Associated Press, commissioner Bud Selig said that Major League Baseball “ought to look at all this” after the 2014 season concludes. While many have condemned Pineda, others have said he only did blatantly what scores of pitchers have been doing discreetly for decades.

MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred offered a comment on the issue:

“I think the way that the rule has been enforced, as with lots of rules in baseball, is that when there’s a complaint, we do something about it,” MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred said. “And that’s what happened here. I don’t think that this particular incident is all that different from other incidents that we’ve had in the past. We will like we do every offseason look at this issue, but remember, pine tar is one of a number of foreign substances, and you have to have a rule that fits for all of them. I don’t think there’s anything all that different about the Pineda.”

To MLB’s credit, they have been more swift than they have in the past in addressing questionable rules. For example, Major League Baseball recently abandoned the strict interpretation of the transfer rule. It shouldn’t be difficult for them to develop new or altered criteria which won’t implicitly reward surreptitious behavior.

  1. beermakers - Apr 26, 2014 at 2:20 PM

    Just, because a guy goes out there looking like Birdman from the Heat with all that stuff on his neck doesn’t mean the rule needs to change.

    Its fine the way it is, other words they are going to have pitchers putting gobs of that stuff on the ball.

  2. tonyc920 - Apr 26, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    Bud, I agree with you on most topics, but not this one. Pitchers have the rosin bag on the mound. With some perspiration and that bag you can get a darn good grip on the ball. No pine tar needed. If you OK pine tar, what’s next ? Vaseline for the offspeed pitchers ?

    • ptfu - Apr 26, 2014 at 4:14 PM

      What’s next, you ask?

      • tonyc920 - Apr 27, 2014 at 3:04 PM

        That was a damn funny movie. Nice one !

  3. Kevin S. - Apr 26, 2014 at 2:25 PM

    “but remember, pine tar is one of a number of foreign substances, and you have to have a rule that fits for all of them”

    Why? Rosin is a foreign substance that pitchers are allowed to have on their fingers. Saliva is a foreign substance that, in cold enough conditions, pitchers are allowed to have on their fingers. If baseball decides the merits of allowing pitchers to use pine tar are worthwhile but other substances aren’t, allow pine tar the way you allow rosin. You can still ban any other foreign substance not explicitly permitted.

  4. tfbuckfutter - Apr 26, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    I’d rather see the rule applied than disposed of.

    Everyone can adjust.

    But there’s no point in having rules if everyone is going to ignore them.

  5. WillIEverSeeACupInMyLife? - Apr 26, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    MLB really testing my patience…Stupid replay (that they can’t get right), changing rules ( that they have no idea how to enforce) , and now this? what is there to “reexamine”? Suspend him 10 games THAT HE WOULD START not 10 games THAT HE WILL PITCH ONCE.

    • tfbuckfutter - Apr 26, 2014 at 2:35 PM

      They are trying to mimic the NFL in their efforts to “fix” the game.

      And I agree. The application of suspensions to pitchers is mostly useless.

      • ptfu - Apr 26, 2014 at 4:56 PM

        I just noticed that Pineda’s suspension is with pay. Certainly takes some of the sting out of it.

        Is this a way to game the system? Can you blatantly pine-tar yourself to get a ten game paid vacation whenever you like? Now no one has to miss their kid’s graduation or their anniversary or whatever.

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 26, 2014 at 6:26 PM

        I just do a job terribly if I don’t want to do it anymore.

        I imagine once you have a contract you can go about free vacations that way.

        It has worked for countless major leagues thus far.

  6. serbingood - Apr 26, 2014 at 3:44 PM

    “I think the way that the rule has been enforced, as with lots of rules in baseball, is that when there’s a complaint, we do something about it,” MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred said. “

    Oakland has just declared their stadium problem to be a ‘rule’ and requests that the MLB and Manfred look into it and ‘do something about it’ right after revisiting the pine tar issue.

  7. perryt200 - Apr 26, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    to me the biggest problem is that pitchers and ‘foreign substances’ seem to fall under a lot of unwritten rules and tradition.

    in order to make the game more ‘fair’, I am happy MLB is going to look at it.

    • tfbuckfutter - Apr 26, 2014 at 4:20 PM

      Exactly. Either keep it illegal, and apply the rule entirely, or make pine tar legal and either put a bucket of it on the mound or let them apply it to their persons in a uniform location.

      But the ambiguous bullcrap needs to go.

      And the whole “everyone agrees it’s ok because teams don’t want their batters hit” is a load of crap. They do it to paint the corners. Not to avoid hitting batters. If they can’t manage to not hit batters without pine tar they have no business in the majors.

    • anxovies - Apr 27, 2014 at 12:30 PM

      Unwritten rules and tradition is how they play the game on the field, if you haven’t noticed. The neighborhood play and, until the recent rule change, the transfer play, are examples of how players and umpires deal with situations that can be dangerous or disruptive when the letter of the law is followed. They only become an issue when they become too obvious, such as when an ump calls a runner out at second when the fielder is 3 feet from the bag. Every profession does this. In law, for instance, the lawyers and judges often permit lines of questing that are leading or even hearsay in order to move the trial along as long as there is no serious prejudice involved. Other professions do the same thing. In baseball, they call the runner out if it is obvious that the fielder could have touched the bag for the out in order to avoid possible injury. As long as it is obvious that the runner would have been out, nobody objects.
      The use of pine tar by a pitcher is one of those conventions that skirt the rule. On cold days it can become almost impossible for the pitcher to get a good grip on the ball. The result is often a long series of walks which disrupts the game or even batters hit by pitches. Similar to the neighborhood play, the players and umps ignore the use of a substance that allows the game to proceed in a normal fashion unless it becomes too obvious. When it becomes too obvious, as in Pineda’s case, the opposing manager has to object or risk looking like a fool.

  8. freddsox - Apr 26, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    I’m assuming this is due to the Yankees getting penalized rather than whom ever they are playing

    • Kevin S. - Apr 26, 2014 at 4:43 PM


    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Apr 26, 2014 at 4:58 PM

      Yeah, like how Arod only got 10 games from Biogenesis when everyone else got at least 50. It’s because he was a Yankee right?

      See how dumb this sounds…

  9. keltictim - Apr 26, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    If the batters don’t have an issue with it, then who cares? Also, seeing how NONE of the commenters here are major league pitchers (playing on a little league team does not make any of us experts), what gives any of you the expertise to know if they are using the tar to paint the corners, or to avoid a wild pitch? Has one of these pitchers lied to you? Is there a real reason for you to essentially call them liars? I’ve seen a few, but not too many, hitters that have gone on record as saying the pine tar is used to gain an unfair advantage. For the most part position players and DHs have either remained quiet or said it’s no big deal, yet a bunch of you “experts” have been decrying the use of pine tar like you actual knowledge of its effect on the ball. Pipe down, and let the people who actually know what they are talking about, handle this one. Of course I could be wrong, and cur’68 is really Curt Schilling. (Sorry cur, doesn’t handle that popped into my brain).

    • tfbuckfutter - Apr 26, 2014 at 4:55 PM

      Umm…is Doc Gooden a “hitter”? I mean, he played in the NL for a long time, but I think I’ll take his opinion over yours on the topic, thanks.

      And you also understand the reason hitters stay quiet is because their teammates are also engaging in the practice so calling attention to it damages THEIR teammates as well, right? You at least can understand that simple proposition, right?

    • ptfu - Apr 26, 2014 at 7:00 PM

      There’s helping your own pitchers, and also that Pineda throws hard and no one this side of Jordany Valdespin wants to get hit in…a vulnerable spot. Batters want pitchers to have control, for their own safety.

      Regarding the lack of batter complaints, it doesn’t matter what pine tar actually does. What matters is that batters BELIEVE it helps pitchers grip the ball. Batters think pitcher pine tar will save them some pain, plus make their team’s pitchers more effective. This is why batters don’t complain about it.

      And before anyone pooh-poohs belief, keep in mind that lots of players wear phiten necklaces, or won’t step on the foul line, or are superstitious about whatever.

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 26, 2014 at 7:26 PM

        As I said before, if a professional MLB pitcher can’t throw a pitch without legitimate concern about frequently hitting a batter, than that guy isn’t an MLB pitcher.

      • ptfu - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:02 PM

        I don’t disagree with that.

        In fact, every pitcher is eventually gonna hit someone. In 1992 Greg Maddux pitched brilliantly, won 20 games and the first of four Cy Young Awards…and led the league in hit batters. Yes, he had good control even then, and yes, pitching inside is part of the game, and yes, some hitters crowd the plate.

        The point is, things happen even to the best pitchers, and no one wants an accident (regardless of how unlikely it might be). If players think pine tar might prevent a few accidents then it’s easy to see why they don’t complain when other pitchers use it.

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:16 PM

        But players DON’T think it prevents accidents (which happen anyway….often on purpose, and with extra control because of the skirting of rules)….they know it helps the pitcher locate his pitches.

        They don’t speak up because it is also helping their pitchers. You don’t think the Red Sox, now that they’ve “snitched” are going to have extra scrutiny on them next time Clay goes out there in a dome slathered in “sunscreen”?

        It needs to either be accepted across the board or condemned across the board. Allow it or try to eradicate it. But everyone should be playing on the same level. If they really think it’s a safety concern than let the pitchers put stick’em on the ball. Make it out of velcro. Whatever. But it’s the unbalanced application and acceptance that’s problematic.

  10. keltictim - Apr 26, 2014 at 6:11 PM

    Well there tbuck thanks for not actually reading my comment. Or maybe you just didn’t understand it. I left pitchers comments out of my comment on purpose as their thoughts have been well covered. I was only talking about the people who are actually affected by the pine tar. Plus I didn’t actually give my opinion on the use of pine tar, so you must be one of those x men who can read my mind. There are plenty of occasions when a position player wants to make a comment about pitchers and doesn’t want to offend his own pitching staff, so they breakout the old “you can quote me, but don’t use my name.”, yet the “anonymous” quote has been mysteriously absent during this scandal. So what’s the real reason for your disdain for my comment? It’s awful tough being an armchair player trying to hit one of those darn pine tar breaking balls huh? Just admit it, you don’t know if pine tar affects the ball more than rosin, it’s ok to not know. Maybe you could call those myth buster guys, they could do a segment and you could get a shout out for suggesting it! That would be swell.

    • tfbuckfutter - Apr 26, 2014 at 6:25 PM

      Dafuq you babbling about?

  11. deedee2die4 - Apr 26, 2014 at 8:03 PM

    I think when a Yankee is caught cheating, the rules need to be changed. That or do an Andy PEDitte crybaby act, then throw your own dad under a bus.

  12. deedee2die4 - Apr 26, 2014 at 8:06 PM

    Joe “He looked the other way” Torre’ will certainly be tough on Pinhead* … Like he, himself getting into the HoF after penciled in more cheats that any manger in history … Well maybe Tony LaJussa* penciled in more and he got into the HoF* too!!!!

    The wolf* is guarding the hen house.

  13. Rick Cosmo - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:47 PM

    if it’s ok for hitters, why is it not ok for pitchers?

  14. disgracedfury - Apr 26, 2014 at 10:49 PM

    Why is only bloggers,fans and sports journalist care?Other pitchers,Managers and hitters don’t care and haven’t used the word “cheater” so why are fans so upset.

    Pineda didn’t cheat he just was careless.Fans and sports writers think different but even Farrell before the game said as long as he hides it he didn’t care.

  15. keltictim - Apr 27, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    Farrell was forced to “snitch”. Pinedas infraction was so blatant he would have looked like a moron had he not said something. If everyone in the league has a “gentlemans agreement” that it’s ok to use the tar on cold or damp nights as long as it’s discreet, what is the issue? Does anybody truly believe after pinedas first infraction, nobody explained to him that he needs to be subtle about it? Forget the lack of interpreters, your telling me there isn’t a Spanish speaking teammate that didn’t tell him what he did wrong? Then he comes out with globs of it on his neck! It’s like he was insulting the intelligence of the Red Sox players and staff, not to mention the fans watching on tv.

  16. mickton - Apr 30, 2014 at 4:10 PM

    Pine tar nail files sand paper vasoline anything used to dr baseballs & such flight of said base ball should remain banned I don’t care if it is a cold drizzly day in hell,
    If you’re gonna let pitchers dr the ball to create a competitive edge allow steroids.
    What’s next

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