As the Orioles are dealing with one of the worst starting rotations in baseball, at least there is one thing that cannot cause us any worry. Our pitchers are not cheaters – it would be hard to imagine a rotation cheating while still playing this poorly. Our division foes up in the Big Apple, on the other hand, have a pretty serious issue at hand. Starting pitched Michael Pineda was thrown out of the team’s April 23 matchup against the Red Sox for having a foreign substance, most likely pine tar, on his neck. This is his second such incident in as many weeks, both coming against Boston. Red Sox skipper John Farrell asked to have Pineda checked during the second inning for foreign substances. As many recall, Pineda looked to have pine tar all over his hands during the Yankees-Sox matchup on April 10. After home plate umpire Gerry Davis felt the substance on Pineda’s neck, the pitcher was thrown out of the game.
One would think that Pineda would be a little more inconspicuous when it came to using something to grip the ball. In fact, most pitchers are. Most pitchers use some sort of foreign substance to help grip the ball. The rosin bag out on the mound is generally used to help pitchers keep a stronger hold on the ball. However, Pineda made the asinine mistake of “hiding” pine tar on the side of his neck while expecting that no one would notice. Consulting the MLB rulebook might show exactly what to expect here.
Per Rule 8.02(a)(2):
- The pitcher shall not have expectorate on the ball, either hand or his glove.
(a) The pitcher shall be ejected immediately from the game and shall be suspended automatically. In National Association Leagues, the automatic suspension shall be for 10 games.
(b) If a play follows the violation called by the umpire, the manager of the offense may advise the plate umpire that he elects to accept the play. Such election shall be made immediately at the end of the play. However, if the batter reaches first base on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batsman, or otherwise, and no other runner is put out before advancing at least one base, the play shall proceed without reference to the violation.
(c) Even though the offense elects to take the play, the violation shall be recognized and the penalties in subsection (a) will still be in effect.
(d) The umpire shall be sole judge on whether any portion of this rule has been violated.
While there was no expectorate (phlegm) on the ball, the pine tar works similarly since both are used to create a grip on the baseball. Gerry Davis, the umpire in the situation, determined that this rule was broken and tossed Pineda, as mentioned by the penalty section. From this same point, a suspension for Pineda appears to be looming. Precedent has shown that a suspension between 8-10 games as what can be expected, but people should not be surprised if his suspension is for a longer period of time since Pineda was seen to have another foreign substance on his hand during his last game against the Red Sox. He has made a fool of himself for the second game in two weeks. He just needs to accept the fact that he is not sneaky and should just be playing the game it is meant to be played.
While the Orioles are having their own troubles with pitching, at least they aren’t of this magnitude. Remember Birdland, it could always be worse.