Following Yankees’ pitcher Michael Pineda‘s ejection from Wednesday’s game at Fenway and subsequent 10-game suspension, BoSox Injection sets out to cover all sides of the issue: from those in favor of better enforcement to those in favor of letting them play, with views on doctoring the ball from someone who’s pitched at the professional level. This is BSI’s Pine Tar Chronicles.
Before I get my argument for allowing pitchers to use pine tar, Bullfrog, and other substances, let us take a look at the actual rule. I was looking through the 2013 MLB Official Rule Book, I was unable to find the 2014 version during my brief search, and here is what it says in regards to rosin and other substances:
No player shall intentionally discolor or damage the ball by rubbing it with soil, rosin, paraffin, licorice, sand-paper, emery-paper or other foreign substance.
The pitcher shall not—apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball
Adding the substances directly to the ball could have an impact on the trajectory of the ball; a properly placed clump of pine tar could result in extra movement on a slider, so don’t make it legal to add substances directly to the ball, but make it legal to add substances to a pitchers forearm and fingers. Choose a handful of substances that batters are not opposed to pitchers using, make those legal, and put them back behind the mound next to the rosin bag. Make the pitchers apply the substances to their arm and then dab their fingers in it right out there on the mound.
We would no longer need to raise a fuss about Clay Buchholz wearing sunscreen indoors, Michael Pineda looking like he just got a massive hickey on prom night, or a television broadcast trying to cut away as they accidentally show Daisuke Matsuzaka spraying one spot of a single arm with an unknown substance.
Make this all above board and out in the middle of the action. Allow the substance chosen by the pitcher to become a part of their game. Heck, it might be fun to hear an announcer describe a starting pitcher as a guy with “a four-pitch mix, four-seam fastball, change, curve, and slider with a pine tar” or a traditional “fastball-change guy who sticks to rosin”.