Baseball needs to learn from the NFL. It’s not often I say that, but this has gotten completely ridiculous – unwritten rules, on-the-field justice, players policing the game – stop it. Step in and change the rules. Review every aspect of the game every year to make it better for players and fans. Michael Pineda’s pine tar incident is the latest.
Let’s be clear, Pineda broke a rule. His 10-game suspension is warranted. His inability – and stupidity – to hide the pine tar in a better spot caused all of the viewing America to notice. He got caught. He should get punished. But let’s be clear, Pineda didn’t cheat. There’s a difference between breaking the rules and cheating. Running out of the baseline is breaking the rules, but it’s not cheating. George Brett got caught with too much pine tar on his bat back in 1983. He was ejected, just like Pineda. He violated a rule, but he wasn’t cheating.
Cheating is something that gives you a competitive advantage over your opponent and the other players on the field. Performance-enhancing drugs do that. Pine tar doesn’t. It gives you a better grip on the ball in cold weather. Pine tar has never, and will never, change the flight of the ball. Using something to scuff the ball and make it break more is cheating. That’s a competitive advantage. Getting a better grip is not. It won’t cause a curve ball to drop faster or harder.
In short, baseball needs to fix this rule. I know they are dealing with a new replay system, the transfer rule and finding a new commissioner to succeed Bud Selig, but this really can be done rather quickly. And much like Congress, when you’re dealing with a lot of older people who are set in their ways, nothing happens quickly. It’s a sticky situation for everyone involved.
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