Yankees Somehow Forget to Tell Pineda Not to Be Stupid. Red Sox Help Out

This one’s on the rest of the Yankees.

When Michael Pineda was caught by TV cameras with pine tar on his palm last week in a game against Boston, talk centered around whether use of pine tar is even considered cheating, and why the Red Sox opted not to have him prosecuted for it.

John Farrell seems to be viewing it similarly to the way many in the game approach opponents stealing signs from the basepaths: It’s hardly egregious, and every team does it to some degree—but when you’re caught, you have to stop … or at least make it less obvious.

Pineda failed on both counts.

It was under Farrell’s watch last week that Pineda was first caught, and Farrell was again in the opposing dugout when Pineda tried it again yesterday—this time with the substance on his neck. The manager was right in letting it slide the first time, and he was right in putting a stop to it the second, with the operating theory being, Guy’s dumb enough to get caught twice, he deserves whatever he gets. (Watch it play out here.)

(Farrell himself said in his pregame presser, “I expect that if it’s used, it’s more discreet than the last time.” Can’t be much more clear—or accommodating—than that.)

Where were the rest of the Yankees after the first incident? Who took the youngster aside and tutored him in the high art of pitch doctoring, or at least the lesser art of simply laying low?

The Captain could have said something, but Jeter’s not a pitcher. C.C. Sabathia has certainly been around long enough, but either kept to himself or did not promote sufficient urgency in his tutoring. The team’s next two most prominent starters are from Japan, and may have either little experience with pine tar, or little enough comfort with either the language or their standing in the clubhouse to lecture on the subject.

This is where a leadership void comes at a cost. (Joe Girardi, we’re looking at you.) Pineda faces a 10-game suspension, minimum. It’s difficult to picture things playing out like this on Yankees teams of recent vintage featuring the likes of Pettitte, Cone, Wells and Clemens. Some of them may have lectured Pineda about knocking it off, while others whispered hints about how to do it right.

It’s rare to see such a clear example of the importance of team leadership. The Yankees dropped the ball on this one.




Filed under Cheating, Pine Tar

10 responses to “Yankees Somehow Forget to Tell Pineda Not to Be Stupid. Red Sox Help Out

  1. cb f

    “The team’s next two most prominent starters are from Japan, and may have either little experience with pine tar, or little enough comfort with either the language or their standing in the clubhouse to lecture on the subject.”

    Or, are the Rules they were reared with in Japan different altogether? Have you looked into how the rules vary across cultures at all?

    • Jason Turbow

      Good question. I’ve done some light research (the book “You Gotta Have Wa” is the best look at Japanese baseball through an American lens that I’ve found), but nothing jumps out at me about how cheating translates over there.

  2. kevin

    Farrell was right on in what he did. He seemed to handle it diplomatically but it must have royally pissed him off to see Pineda pile on even more pine tar than before. Girardi really looks bad in all of this.

  3. Good post. Baseball’s code of silence never ceases to amaze me. Pineda basically forced Farrell’s hand and this is what I hate about baseball. Doc Gooden came out today stating the obvious and talking about how pine tar helps with more than grip. How the heck are hitters supposed to hit the ball normally, much less when pitchers can use sunscreen, pine tar or whatever the hell else they can get their hands on. I wish they would put a stop to it.


  4. Jason Turbow

    Doc’s right — pine tar can help tighten the spin on breaking pitches and add additional movement. Pitchers have known this for a long, long time.

    In the realm of foreign substances, however, pine tar is the one that pitchers (some of them, anyway) look to not to enhance their repertoire but to simply maintain baseline competency on wet or cold nights when it’s tough to get a grip on the ball. The space between those two realities is why MLB keeps it illegal, and why many within the game are willing to look the other way — for a while, anyway — when it shows up on the field.

  5. James V.

    Man, I get that pitchers use various substances to gain an advantage, but how can they not know something like this is going to be caught especially after what happened so recently?

  6. KAte

    I love how the Boston announcers all say something to the effect of, “It’s gotta be about the pine tar on his neck, man you can’t be any less subtle.” Then the NY announcers are all offended, “This is going to start something…” ect. Pineda had one free pass already, you can’t realistically expect a second one. Especially if the infraction is more obvious the second time.

    Seriously though, did he just figure, nobody will see it on my neck since it’s the same colour as me? Dude; it’s a big shiny streak, the rest of you is matte, not glossy. It was pretty dang obvious.

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