Via Bill Madden –
This is one sticky wicket Michael Pineda has created for himself and baseball.
The now-certified dumbest player on the planet insisted after being ejected from Wednesday night’s Yankee-Red Sox game at Fenway Park that the huge smudge of pine tar on his neck was there for no other reason but to help him get a better grip on the ball in the cold weather so he wouldn’t maim any of the Boston batters with errant pitches. It was his story and he was . . . er . . . sticking to it, but Gaylord Perry, the most notorious “foreign substance” practitioner of them all, says he’s full of it.
“Of course pine tar is a performance-enhancing substance,” Perry said by phone from his home in North Carolina when I asked him if its only value to a pitcher was just to get a better grip of the slick baseballs when the temperatures drop into the 40s. “Why do you think so many pitchers are using it? It absolutely helps your sinkers to sink better and breaking pitches to break better.”
To that, Dwight Gooden wholeheartedly agreed in a tweet Thursday: “Lets put to rest all this talk about pine tar to get a better grip on the ball to protect the hitters! Pine tar is used 2 make ur breaking pitches sharper and help ur sinker 4 more movement. You can blow in your hand for a better grip when it’s cold. Enough already!”
According to Perry, when it comes to getting a better grip on the baseball in colder conditions, the old-fashioned rosin bag is perfectly sufficient. “It was for me,” he said. “People don’t realize it but the rosin is nothing more than dried pine tar. You can shake that thing up, even spit a little in your hands when you’re off the rubber, rub ’em together and then use the rosin bag. That’s what I’d do and I never had a problem with gripping the ball.”
“Gaylord’s right about pine tar being a performance-enhancing substance,” said Hall-of-Fame-bound former Cardinals, A’s and White Sox manager Tony La Russa by phone from his home in California. “At the same time, it does help the pitchers grip the ball better in cold weather, and the hitters appreciate the fact the pitcher can control his pitches. But there’s a gray area and it’s very small. Nobody has a problem if a pitcher has a small dip on his finger to help him better control the slick balls in the cold weather. But when you’ve got a swath of it somewhere, on your hands, your glove or somewhere else on your body, then you’re crossing the line in that gray area and your intention is clearly to cheat.”
On the bright side, I have a big fat gold chain, a Yankees cap to wear crooked, and some pine tar to slap on my neck. Yes, I have my Halloween costume good to go with six months to spare!