Baseball has many unwritten rules. They cover things like whether or not it’s OK to try to bunt for a hit late in a perfect game. Or when it’s acceptable to lean into a pitch to get on base.
They also cover things like the usage of pine tar by pitchers to get a better grip. And when calling out players on other teams for certain infractions might make your own players such targets in the future.
In general, yes, pine tar use may be acceptable. But, when you do it for the second start in a row against the same team within a two-week span and after you’ve been warned by Major League Baseball not to do and when you do it with extremely visible gobs of the goo, well, then you leave the other team no choice but to call you out.
The Red Sox did just that to Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda with two outs in the second inning Wednesday and was quickly ejected by home plate umpire Gerry Davis. Pineda received a 10-game suspension from Major League Baseball on Thursday, and has opted not to appeal. He will start his suspension immediately and be eligible to return May 5 at the Angels.
"I'll accept it because I know I make a mistake," Pineda said. "That's it.”
For Red Sox manager John Farrell, when a player makes those choices, he has to assume the consequences.
“No reaction if it was too few or too many [games on the suspension], nothing in terms of that,” Farrell said. “I think when a player goes down that path, you’re assuming the potential consequence. And that’s what’s been handed down.”
Farrell, who had not talked to Yankees manager Joe Girardi about the situation, was not upset at the use of the pine tar. It was the circumstances surrounding the incident that got his attention.
“I don’t take issue because I think there’s some things and this being one of them inside the game that pitchers, particularly in climates like last night, you’re looking or some sort of grip,” he said. “I think there’s probably ways that you can be a little bit more discreet.
“I don’t think this is something that is in need of a rule change. It seemingly has worked fine for a number of years.”
Farrell said before yesterday’s game he hoped if Pineda -- who was seen with pine tar on his hand in his start against the Sox in Yankee Stadium on April 10 – attempted to use it again, he would be more discreet. What’s the line between discreet and blatant?
“I think that was demonstrated last night,” Farrell said.
David Ross said he was not concerned about Red Sox pitchers becoming targets for closer scrutiny going forward, also because of the circumstances in this particular incident.
“I don’t’ really thing that’s what the incident created,” Ross said. “I think that was more of an obvious, blatant disregard for professionalism. And I think [Pineda has] learned from that. We’re not out for ticky-tack things. We’ll worry about the Red Sox. Our pitchers are some of the best in the game and thy don’t need, none of our guys are so-called cheating, I guess, and especially in a blatant way. I don’t know what, if any, of our guys use. And I hope this incident doesn’t create something like [closer scrutiny].