Friday, April 25, 2014
Rant #1,194: Tar Heel
Remember yesterday when I explained to those who didn't know, or care, that in the New York Metropolitan Area, sports are almost akin to religion?
Well, Michael Pineda put his name into local baseball lore with what he tried to get away with on Wednesday night.
After two years of injuries that did not allow him to pitch in a major league game, Pineda had been the "feel good" story of the spring for the Yankees, a 25-year old with a determination to make the big league team now that his injuries were a thing of the past.
He pitched very well, and made the team coming out of Florida in late March.
And once pitching, he did very well, continuing into the regular season.
Then last week, he raised suspicions of something devious happening by pitching at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox with something odd on his arm, something shiny and readily apparent to the eye.
He said it was just dirt, but you only needed limited eyesight to see that it was pine tar, or some other substance that allowed him to get a better grip on the ball in cold, New York weather.
The Red Sox allowed him to slide at Yankee Stadium, but at Fenway Park, things were going to be different if Pineda tried such a thing again.
He started on Wednesday night, and was hit hard in the first inning.
He same out in the second inning, and it was apparent that Pineda had that same, shiny substance on his neck.
Two were out, and he was in the middle of the count when Boston manager John Farrell, a former pitcher himself, came out, wanting the umpires to take a look at Pineda.
They looked at his uniform, his cap, his belt, and lo and behold, they found something on his neck.
He was ejected, and the Yankees ended up losing the game.
And since last week, we have heard uttered the "unthinkable" in baseball--most pitchers use something illegal on the mound to get a better grip on the ball.
Pineda was caught because he made it too obvious.
This is not about spitballs, using substances to get the ball to move off its natural plane from the pitcher's hand to the catcher's mitt (or to the batter's bat). This is the use of substances to allow pitchers to grip the baseball in a better way, giving them a heightened ability to throw that pitch.
No, this is not as bad as PEDs, but it still is a blemish on the game.
And for the public, this brings a part of the game into the real world--athletes do cheat, so to speak, even marginally, which is what this whole pine tar mess is about.
Pineda rightfully got a 10-game suspension, apologized for his actions--that, by the way, the Yankees knew absolutely nothing about, supposedly, as he just smeared the pine tar on without anybody's knowledge--and now the Yankees are down a pitcher for maybe a start. Since pitchers start every fifth day, and the suspension began yesterday, they might need another starter for a game, maybe two.
But again, with the PED scandal still hovering over baseball, now we have this much more subtle type of cheating to contend with.
And yes, the sports world in this part of the country is talking about this as if it were the beginning of World War III. Such is the nature of sports in this area, which like I said, is almost akin to religion here.
Yesterday's game got the Yankees back where they should be, and even though Pineda continued to be the main topic of discussion, the Yankees came back to win, 14-5, and take the three game series against the Red Sox, 2-1.
Yes, when baseball season begins, you just know that the warmer weather is coming, and it seems the debate about "cheating" in the game will heat up as we get into the warmer months of the year.
Can't wait! Speak to you again on Monday.
Posted by Larry at 1:51 AM