Major League Baseball issued a ten-game suspension against Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda for “possessing a foreign substance on his person” during a game against the Boston Red Sox.
As Major League Baseball reports, after the Sox’s manager complained to home plate umpire Gerry Davis, he went out to the mound to inspect Pineda.
Davis found some tar on Pineda’s neck.
Pineda was ejected and if he doesn’t appeal the suspension, he’ll begin serving it tonight.
“After the game, a 5-1 victory for the Red Sox, Pineda acknowledged he had pine tar smeared on his neck.
“Pineda (2-2) had had a difficult first inning, allowing two runs on four hits, including a leadoff triple by Sizemore, although two of the hits were a bloop single that dropped into short right-field and a grounder up the middle that skipped between Derek Jeter‘s legs.
“The smear of a shiny substance along the side of Pineda’s neck was not apparent in the first inning but was obvious in the second. According to MLB rule 8.02, a pitcher may not use a ‘foreign substance’ on the ball.”
As for why a pitcher would use tar on his hands. Sports Illustrated spoke to a physics professor:
“‘With the cold weather, the ball feels very slick and it’s hard for the pitcher to get a good grip,’ says Alan Nathan, Professor of Physics Emeritus at the University of Illinois. ‘So it’s hard for a pitcher to get a good grip on the ball to snap off a ball with a good amount of spin on it, regardless if it’s a breaking pitch or a fastball with movement. Spin results in movement, so creating friction between the fingers and the surface of the ball, the seams or the white part of the ball, is very important.’
“Nathan, who blogs about the physics of baseball, said that he truly believes Pineda—and many pitchers in baseball—use pine tar only for grip. But it’s not out of the question that the substance could be used in other ways.
“‘Taken to an extreme, putting a foreign substance like pine tar on the ball can do more,’ Nathan says. ‘It can affect the trajectory. It can give the ball unexpected movement. I doubt that is what was going on, but a real glob of pine tar could make the ball move a lot. But that would be hard for a pitcher to get away with. In the hands of a reasonably skilled pitcher, a lot can be done when the ball is loaded up.'”