Pitchers and Pine Tar

“It won’t happen again,” said Michael Pineda the starting pitcher for the New York Yankees on April 10 after being accused of having pine tar on his palm.

On April 23, it happened again. Pineda got caught using pine tar against the Red Sox. This time he had a large and fairly obvious splotch of it on his neck and not his palm. Red Sox manager John Farrell said “I think there are probably ways you can be a little more discreet.” Farrell said he was not going to tell the umpires that Pineda was using the banned substance, because it gives the pitcher better control. But it was so obvious to everyone he felt he had to.

After this game the main question that was raised was: is using pine tar really that bad? Some ex-MLB players are for getting rid of the rule because it lets pitchers have more control, especially in the colder parts of the season. Batters would rather have a pitcher who throws strikes instead of a wild pitcher so that is why they like when they use pine tar. Others feel that a banned substance is a banned substance and the rule should not change; if it gives the pitcher more of an edge than usual this is a problem ,they believe.

Whenever this substance comes up, people always think about the famous “Pine Tar” Game decades ago. Though the game was three decades ago, everyone who saw it remembers it, and many who did not know about it. The Kansas City Royals were playing the New York Yankees when George Brett hit the go-ahead homerun in the top of the ninth inning. When Yankees manager Billy Martin challenged Brett’s bat because he had too much pine tar on it, the umpires examined the bat and negated the homerun, making Brett the third out of the inning, thereby ending the game as a Yankees win. Batters are actually allowed to use pine tar, but it may only reach a specific height on their bat.

Before the Pineda incident the last person who was caught using pine tar was Joel Peralta. Many catchers came out and said that they use it on their shin pads for the pitchers because the pitchers may not use it. So there seems to be a hot debate right now. Will MLB commissioner Bud Selig take the opportunity to legalize the substance for pitchers? We’ll have to wait and see.