NEW YORK -- In 1983, the Yankees were involved in an infamous game in which a home run by Kansas City's George Brett was negated by excessive pine tar on Brett's bat.
Some 31 years later, another pine-tar controversy revisited the Yankees again.
Numerous TV camera angles seemed to show New York starter Michael Pineda with a gob of pine star on the palm of his right hand. Pineda was masterful against the Red Sox, limiting them to four hits and a single run in six-plus innings in a 4-1 Yankee victory.
"I became aware of it in the fourth inning,'' said manager John Farrell, "through the video that some had seen. And when he came back out for the fifth inning, based on what was told to me and where it was located, it looked like the palm of his right hand was clean. So that's the extent of it.''
Crew chief Brian O'Nora said he didn't notice any substance on Pineda's hand.
"No,'' said O'Nora. "That was never brought to our attention, either. No one said a word.''
Told that TV cameras appeared to show a dark brown substance on his hand, O'Nora said: "I can't comment on it because we're on the field and the Red Sox didn't bring it to our attention, so there's nothing we can do about it. If they bring it to our attention, then you've got to do something. But they didn't bring it to our attention.''
"By the time I was made aware of it,'' reiterated Farrell, "after the fourth, it was pretty clear by looking it at closely from the dugout, that his palm was clean. It was not there by the time I was made aware of it.''
The Red Sox themselves were embroiled in a similar controversy of sorts last season when two broadcasters in Toronto alleged that Clay Buchholz -- ironically, the Red Sox starter Thursday night -- was using a mixture of resin and sunscreen on his forearm to doctor the baseball. Later last year, TV cameras appeared to show a similar substance on Jon Lester's glove in Game 1 of the World Series.
Buchholz dismissed the controversy Thursday night.
"Especially on cold windy nights, it's tough to get a grip on a baseball,'' said Buchholz. "I had that instance last year in Toronto about having stuff all over my body. You can use resin, water, the whole sunscreen thing or whatever. But it's either have a grip on a baseball and [somewhat] know where it's going or not have a grip at all and get somebody hurt. With how hard he was throwing out there, nobody wants to get hit by that, especially up around the head.
"I don't think there would be any organization that would want to do anything about it. If you're scuffing the ball, that's one thing. But if you're actually creating more control by throwing it where you want to, no, that's the game of baseball. If it's giving you any kind of edge . . . but as long as I've been around, I've never seen any kind of sticky substance give anybody an edge.''
Two other veteran Red Sox hitters downplayed any suggestion that Pineda was bending the rules.
"Everybody uses pine tar,'' said David Ortiz. "It's no big deal. I didn't really get to see what was going on. I don't pay attention to any of that. What can I tell you? I don't know what pine tar does to a baseball.''
"I thought he was great,'' said Dustin Pedroia, "Like I said, I have pine tar on my bat. That’s a non-issue. He was better than us tonight. That’s baseball. We’ll try to come out and score some runs tomorrow.''
Added A.J. Pierzynski: "I had no idea. He threw a good game and that was it.''
But another clubhouse source suggested that by being as obvious as he was, Pineda was asking for trouble.
"If you're being that aggressive with it,'' said the source, "it's kind of in-your-face. That's kind of crossing the line.''
The source also found it interesting that Pineda decided -- or was told - to wipe the substance off mid-game, suggesting an acknowledgement of guilt and wrongdoing.