MLB could re-examine pine tar rules during the offseason

Mark Townsend
Baseball will look at pine tar rule after season
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In this April 23, 2014 photo taken from video and provided by ESPN, home plate umpire Gerry Davis touches the neck of New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda in the second inning of the Yankees' baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston. Pineda was ejected after umpires found a foreign substance on his neck. (AP Photo/ESPN)

After making necessary adjustments to the confusing transfer rule earlier this week, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig says the league should also look into possible changes regarding the league's pine tar rules after they recently became front and center thanks to New York Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda.

Any such examinations or changes, however, are not expected until after the season, as Selig doesn't feel adjustments are as pressing as they were with the transfer rule.

There are several factors they'll be looking at once they do get around to it. First and foremost, the use of pine tar seems to be widely accepted around the league and rarely acknowledged because hitters don't really mind pitchers using it. Their feeling is pine tar helps pitchers grip the baseball better, which should ideally lead to better control and fewer beanballs and in turn makes them feel safer at the plate. That's especially true in cooler weather when the baseball tends to get slippery.

The Pineda case was unique, though, almost entirely because he was so obvious about it. The Red Sox let it go on April 10 when it was clear Pineda's palm was caked in pine tar. However, when Pineda showed up with more pine tar clearly visible on his neck during Wednesday's game at Fenway Park, they almost would have looked foolish not pointing it out to the umpires. Had Pineda been more discreet, it's likely nothing would have come from the situation, and he certainly wouldn't be facing a 10-game suspension.

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Understanding this to be true, there are some within the game, including Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who believe pine tar should be legalized and made readily available in small amounts to pitchers much the same way rosin is on the mound. On the flip side, Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Joe Torre says they have to be careful giving an inch, because once it's legal the usage could go beyond simply getting a better grip and be used for getting more movement on pitches.

Honestly, that's probably already happening, too, but the grip issue seems to be of greater concern to hitters.

MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred also weighed in:

“I think the way that the rule has been enforced, as with lots of rules in baseball, is that when there’s a complaint, we do something about it,” Manfred said. “And that’s what happened here. I don’t think that this particular incident is all that different from other incidents that we’ve had in the past. We will like we do every offseason look at this issue, but remember, pine tar is one of a number of foreign substances, and you have to have a rule that fits for all of them. I don’t think there’s anything all that different about the Pineda.”

Chances are when all is said and done little to nothing will be changed about the rules, mainly because there doesn't seem to be a major push to do so. If the issue resurfaces again this season, maybe that will change things a bit, but until it becomes a headache that won't go away, it's not a headache worth creating when it comes to sorting out which substances should and should not be legal going forward. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!