I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this whole unfortunate Michael Pineda pine tar incident. I thought I’d gotten my thoughts out in the post from the other day, but that was mostly about how stupid Pineda was to get caught again. What I really want to talk about in this post is whether or not the pine tar rule is stupid. Here’s a hint, I do.
Practically everyone interviewed about Pineda’s ejection, and now 10 game suspension, has expressed the feeling that most guys use pine tar only for grip, and not to “doctor” the baseball. No one’s pulling an Ed Harris here. If you don’t know who Ed Harris is, shame on you. Here’s a quote from Major League. It’s related to the topic, but mostly it just makes me laugh. We all remember the clubhouse scene between Harris and Ricky Vaughn, right?
Rick Vaughn: What’s that shit on your chest?
Eddie Harris: Crisco.
Eddie Harris: [wipes across his head] Bardol.
Eddie Harris: [wipes along his waist line] Vagisil. Any one of them will give you another two to three inches drop on your curve ball. Of course, if the umps are watching me real close, I’ll rub a little jalapeño up my nose, get it runnin’, and if need to load the ball up i just…[wipes his nose]… wipe my nose.
Rick Vaughn: You put snot on the ball?
Eddie Harris: I haven’t got an arm like you, kid. I have to put anything on it I can find. Some day you will too.
You’ll notice that Harris never mentions pine tar, right? That’s because pine tar isn’t used to doctor the baseball, for the most part. Sure, if you use enough of it, you can probably add some dipsy do to your offerings, but that’s never the goal on a cold night in April. If batters can use pine tar to get a better grip on their bat, why shouldn’t pitchers be allowed to use the same thing? Sure, they have the rosen bag, but clearly that isn’t as effective, or people wouldn’t use so much pine tar for the same results.
Is it time for Major League Baseball to repeal the ban on pine tar? That’s where the argument gets tricky. If they just blanket repeal the ban, someone’s going to end up using gobs of pine tar to make the baseball do whacky things. There will always be those types that will take whatever competitive advantage they can in order to win. Imagine if you told Ryan Braun he could use HGH, as long as it was only to help him recover from an injury. Hell, he’d be shooting up every time he got a paper cut. This will surely happen if MLB suddenly decrees that pine tar is legal.
What they need to do, is limit the usage somehow. Every mound should have a small tub of pine tar on it (like a hair pommade container sized, so as not to get in the way of hit balls and such). The umpire should then be the one to allow the usage. If the umpire feels that its too cold and dry out (within reason), then he should make the call that pine tar is allowed. Then, he should supervise when the pitchers use the pine tar, and how much. MLB already has a similar rule when it comes to pitchers licking their hands for grip, so why not apply similar restrictions to the pine tar? At the end of the day, this is a safety issue. If controlled correctly, pine tar could be a very useful tool for pitchers all around baseball.
I do not, however, in any way, support the usage of snot on the mound. Sorry, Ed.
Featured image courtesy of: Mark Bonifacio/New York Daily News
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