The Red Sox dropped a 4-1 decision to the Yankees last night in the Bronx, but this morning, no one’s talking about the final score. They’re not talking about the Sox' lack of offense (only the Royals and Astros are scoring fewer runs per game in the American League) or the aftermath of Jacoby Ellsbury’s first game against his former team. Nope. Instead, it’s all about Michael Pineda and his ‘dirty’ pitching hand.
That’s what Pineda called the pine tar that was on his right palm for the first four innings of last night’s game. He said it was “dirt.” But we all know that he’s lying, unless the Yankee Stadium mound is the only place on this planet with glistening dirt. No. It wasn’t dirt. It was pine tar. And pine tar’s illegal.
Of course, David Ortiz said that it’s not a big deal. “Everyone uses pine tar,” he told reporters* after the game. And while on one hand, Ortiz probably has a point, on the other hand . . . did you see Pineda’s hand?! Maybe everyone uses pine tar, but not everyone uses it like that. It’s one thing for a pitcher to carefully craft a method of subtly utilizing a foreign substance on the mound. It’s another thing for him to just dip his pitching hand in a vat of pine tar before a start.
* -- Is it a little weird hearing David Ortiz use an “everyone’s doing it” defense to justify cheating?
Ultimately, the problem isn’t even that Pineda was cheating, it’s that he didn’t try to hide it. I mean, if you’re going to cheat, at least cheat with some dignity! At least feign a little interest in the existence of the law.
It’s like the difference between driving 75 on the highway and driving 95. Only in this case, Pineda was doing 110, and driving shirtless in a bright yellow convertible while blasting “$%&# Tha Police” and chugging a bottle of tequila.
In a weird way, I give Pineda credit for having the cajones to even try something so ridiculous. There’s a little bit “I’m not even mad. That’s amazing” phenomenon going on. Especially after his postgame interview. That was an amazing performance. It was dirt? Come on. Again, that’s Pineda not even trying to come up with a legitimate excuse. It obviously wasn’t dirt. No one’s buying that. And he knows it.
A lot of people will compare what happened to Pineda to what happened to Clay Buchholz last year in Toronto, but at least Clay had the suntan lotion excuse. Who cares that he was playing in a dome that day and had no reason to be wearing suntan lotion? It was creative. There was a split second where you maybe believed he was innocent.
Pineda didn’t even pretend to care about the rule. He couldn’t have been more obvious. The PINE is right there in his last name! And there’s no doubt that he deserves some kind of fine or warning for what happened. Maybe they can just connect him on a three-way Google Hangout with the league office and the players’ union and let everyone stare blankly at him in bewilderment for a few minutes. Like, “Seriously, Michael?!” And then when that’s over, the story will be over, and baseball will never deal with it again. First of all, because Michael Pineda will never pitch with that much pine tar on his hand again. He knows everyone is watching. And after Pineda, no one else will be that obvious, either. For the same reason that no one was ever that obvious BEFORE Pineda. Because it’s not cool! You’ll get caught.
And Pineda did. And it should be fun to see what happens next. Not with Pineda and the league, but with Pineda and the Sox. After all, you know it won’t long before he’s back on the mound against Boston. It might even happen in Boston. And when it does, you know this story will dominate the headlines. You know he’ll hear it from the Fenway crowd. Everyone will be waiting to see how he does without his magical shiny dirt. It will be exciting. It will be fun. And that’s a good thing.
We’ve been waiting years for something to come along and reinvigorate the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry. It’s been dormant — at least compared to a decade ago — for far too long. When Ellsbury jumped ship this winter, it felt like a start. You could see the storm brewing. The Derek Jeter farewell tour adds a little fuel to the fire, too. Just the fact that the Yankees are dedicating this year to celebrating an era (pre-2004) that made Boston miserable. And now, after only the first of 19 games this season, we’ve got Michael “Dirty Palms" Pineda.
I like where this is going!
Assuming that they start scoring some runs.
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