Michael Pineda Has A Foreign Substance Abuse Problem

Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda’s has a substance abuse problem worse than Jordan Belfort’s. Martin Scorcese's Wolf of Wall Street was as much about rampant drug use as it was about shady investment companies during the "greed is good" generation. Pineda's spectacular start to the season was just as much of a red herring to his rampant pine tar applications. On Wednesday night, the Yankees pitcher was spotted with the other sticky icky for a third time this season. Third time was the charm though, because two weeks after letting Pineda’s poorly hidden pine tar against them slide, the Boston Red Sox couldn’t ignore the pine tar he was using as concealer on his neck and finger paint on the baseball.

After the umpires were alerted to Pineda’s blatant pine tar usage by Red Sox manager John Farrell, himself a former pitching coach, the entire crew approached Pineda at the mound like the TSA would at a security checkpoint and searched the Yankees pitcher for evidence. Home plate umpire Gerry Davis found it in the form of an enormous glob of goo on Pineda’s neck, rubbed the shining gloss between his fingers with the suave mien of a Miami narcotics division detective rubbing seized coke on his gums to determine if was pure, and promptly ejected the 6-7 flame thrower.

Pineda is to pine tar what Sammy Sosa was for corks. Yet, the use of pine tar has gone as unregulated in MLB as Wall Street in the ‘80s. Comparing Pineda’s use of pine tar to steroid use is a slight exaggeration, but rules are rules and baseball seems to have an unwritten hierarchy of sin. It’s as if a century ago, Moses descended from the MLB mountaintop with two tablets of baseball commandments and a disclaimer that read, “Eh, none of these rules are really set in stone. Always open for interpretation."

On June 3, 2003 when Sosa’s use of a corked bat during a hitting slump was discovered, MLB fans were apoplectic despite the science proving that the trade-off for a modified bat increased bat speed by creating a vacuum in power. Pine tar is more apt as pitching’s corked bat analogue. 

Pineda's problem is that he uses pine tar like the office assistant who sprays on the Avon Lady's perfume like its Febreze. When Pineda finishes serving his suspension, the contents of his glove will be more scrutinized than O.J. Simpson’s famous courthouse hand modeling.

Baseball’s unwritten rules bit Pineda in the backside, but it raises the question of whether baseball should be regulating the foreign substances being used by its pitchers.

The deflation of the Swingin’ Steroid Era’s inflated power numbers has transformed baseball back into a pitcher’s game where ERAs have declined as drastically as power numbers decreased. Last season was one of the best defensive seasons in modern history for aces, yet because of the sport’s lackadaisical attitude toward the degrees of cheating, another Yankee has been found testing the loose limits of baseball’s ethics limbo.

Michael Pine-da will probably never live down his association with pine tar, thanks in part to his last name having as much of a mnemonic symmetry with his recidivist baseball crime spree as A-Roid. However, Pineda’s legacy won’t be seriously tarnished on the level of the Bonds-McGwire-Sosa-Rodriguez quartet that have been relentlessly flogged for their judgment during an era in which the drugs they used weren’t specifically outlawed and were implicitly condoned.

This issue is inverse of the legality of steroids in baseball. It’s illegal, but everyone believes it shouldn’t be and the rule is enforced as the jaywalking of rulebreaking offenses or like it should be legal in Washington, Colorado and the American League.

What's intriguing about Pineda's use of pine tar is that he acknowledges that its application did enhance his performance.

"First inning, I no feel the ball and you know I no wanna hit anybody so I decided to use." Pineda admitted afterward.

However, the only thing being hit was Pineda’s pitches across the plate. While he was getting knocked around for four hits and two runs in the first, there was no substance visible on his persons.

In a far cry from his previous denial that the goo was dirt or C.C. Sabathia’s famous barbecue sauce, Pineda appeared remorseful on Wednesday night.

"I . . . apologize [to] my teammates and everybody," Pineda lamented after the 5-1 loss. "I'm [hurt] for this mistake. Won't happen again."

It’s unclear whether Pineda was discussing going cold turkey on the pine tar or if he’ll be spending his likely suspension taking a crash course in pine tar hide and seek fundamentals.

"It’s illegal no matter how you do it," Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said after the game when grilled by the media swarm. "Obviously you can tell him whatever you want, but it’s illegal no matter how you do it. You want me to tell him how to cheat better? That’s basically what it is."

Red Sox pine tar specialist Clay Buchholz has openly discussed his use of sunscreen and pine tar and has admitted that close to 90 percent of pitchers use some sort of foreign substance (namely rosin and sunscreen or pine tar) for control during frigid outdoor games. However, Pineda’s first known unidentified foreign substance appearance occurred during an away game inside of Toronto’s temperature-controlled Rogers Centre.

However, in the meantime Pineda’s pine tar was a social media storm that could go a long way towards earning the Yankees ace a Pine Sol endorsement deal. Hall of Fame voters won’t bat an eye if Pineda becomes an ace for the next 10-15 years, but they will get a hearty laugh out of his doltish methods.

Back to top