Yankees-Red Sox. The biggest rivalry in sports. The most entertaining games of the season. Some end in brawls, while others end on dramatic walk-offs. Or even victories after coming behind from a seemingly impossible 0-3 deficit…but that is not often talked about in the world of New York City.
Last night’s opening Sox-Yanks game was not focused on the past or any of these other weird rivalry things: the focus was on Pineda’s hand. A substance that looked like pine tar was found on his right palm and the high-definition cameras captured it, specifically in the third inning.
His explanation? Dirt. That was his response in the post-game interview. And several people believe otherwise, including me. The substance looked familiar, but also had a sticky and shiny look to it. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve never seen dirt like that. Is it possible that it is some kind of dirt? Maybe. But the better explanation would seem to be pine tar. Did the Sox point it out? Of course not…but that could be because Buchholtz got caught using a similar-looking substance last year…
The problem is, we don’t know. Nobody knows what the mixture was and Pineda insisted it was a mixture of sweat and dirt as the game continued. But the truth is Pineda, who hasn’t pitched for the Yankees in two years and finally excelled in spring training, shut down the Sox. And it wasn’t just Pineda…David Phelps came in and pitched a solid two and a third innings of work. With no hits. No matter how Pineda pitched regularly, you cannot deny that the bullpen did a stellar job keeping the Sox in check.
Do I think that what Pineda is using is right? Well, no. But I don’t know what he used. All I know is that I’ve seen pitchers use substances sometimes to grip the ball better in cooler weather, which there has been no shortage of this year. Maybe I don’t agree with it, but it happened. And naturally the MLB will investigate it, as they should, so we will find out.
But for now, all I can say is that Pineda did something questionable and because the details are not all given, I cannot give an answer. If he cheated, he cheated. And if he cheated, I will not support him, no matter how much he has struggled in his comeback trail to the Yankees. Sweat and dirt? Maybe. Pine tar? Maybe. Don’t make opinions until you know the facts.