Pine Tar Revitalizes Rivalry

I’ve been so busy writing about the NHL playoffs that I almost forgot to mention Pine Tar-Gate 2014. Earlier this week, in a game between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, Yankee pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected for having a disgusting glob of pine tar on his neck that he was using to doctor the ball. A couple weeks ago, Pineda was warned by Major League Baseball after everyone watching the game on TV noticed the pine tar that was on his arm. That game was also against the Red Sox. This time, it was so obvious that John Farrell had no choice but to come out of the dugout and let home plate umpire Gerry Davis know about it. David went to the mound and tossed Pineda from the game as soon as he touched Pineda’s neck. Pineda was issued a ten game suspension, which is standard procedure for the offense. It’s about time something interesting happened between the Yankees and Red Sox again!

Red Sox vs. Yankees is arguably the best rivalry in baseball, but the only reason it’s an argument is because the rivalry has gone stale over the last decade, allowing Dodgers vs. Giants to creep back into the conversation. The two teams have not met in the postseason since their epic seven game American League Championship Series in 2004, where the Red Sox made the greatest comeback in baseball history on their way to winning their first World Series since 1918. Since then, the regular season games, while very long on average, have not been particularly exciting th past few years. The Red Sox vs. Rays rivalry has become much more intriguing as far as the on-field product is concerned.

It’s a lot harder to hate the Yankees than it was in the past. Alex Rodriguez is serving a one year ban from Major League Baseball, so he’s not in the picture. Last year, Mariano Rivera had a season-long farewell tour, and this year Derek Jeter is doing the same. Jacoby Ellsbury may have defected from Boston and signed with New York, but I didn’t really want the Sox to keep him anyway. Would I have preferred that he sign with San Diego or Seattle or the Chicago Cubs? Sure, but I’m not heartbroken, and I’m glad the Red Sox won’t be paying him what the Yankees will be paying him when he’s 37. Looking up and down the Yankee roster, it’s hard to find a lot of villains to hate, but the Pineda thing may be what it takes to stir the pot.

The next time the Red Sox and Yankees meet, every Red Sox pitcher will be examined under a microscope. So will every Yankees pitcher. I don’t really have a problem with pitchers doctoring the ball, but at least be more subtle about it. There are Hall of Fame pitchers who cheated, but the chance that they could have been doing it even when they weren’t was enough to crawl into a hitter’s head. That’s part of the game. I’m also the guy who liked the Steroid Era and has no problem with steroid users getting voted into the Hall of Fame, so take that for what it’s worth.

The real questions to ask in this whole situation are “how stupid is Michael Pineda?” and “how stupid does Michael Pineda think the rest of us are?” Nobody got fooled on this one.

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