The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are already off to a heated start in their 2014 season series. Game 1 on April 10 had the Yankees beating the Red Sox by 4-1, with pitcher Michael Pineda earning his first win in over two years. However, questions arose on how he earned it, as Pineda was caught with some kind of substance on his hands in the first few innings -- which he claimed was dirt instead of the more illegal pine tar.
Of course, any substance on pitchers' hands is generally frowned upon, yet Pineda claimed he wasn't trying to game the baseball on purpose. Given how the Red Sox couldn't get anything on him in the opening innings, when Pineda was clearly seen on TV with the substance on his hands, there was room to nitpick him. However, his hands were clean in his final innings and the Red Sox couldn't do much better.
Pineda said he only had dirt on his hands and not pine tar, because he was "sweating too much." It was a better answer than Boston's David Ortiz gave, as he said, "Everybody uses pine tar in the league." Whether that is true or not, it is something ill advised to talk about out loud.
The most famous use of pine tar worked against the Yankees in 1983, when the Kansas City Royals' George Brett was charged with having it on his bat and had a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning wiped out. It led to Brett going off, the call being reversed days later and to the end of the game being redone.
As for Pineda, his six plus innings of one-run ball will stand, since the Red Sox themselves didn't bring anything to the umpires' attention. Twitter and television audiences had a better eye on his hands than his opponents did, although being focused on other things didn't help Boston score any more runs.
By the time Daniel Nava finally got the Red Sox on the board with a seventh-inning homer off of Pineda, the Yankees already had a 4-0 lead thanks to a two-run fourth and fifth. Once Pineda left, David Phelps got his first save for New York in the post Mariano Rivera era with over two innings of scoreless ball. Yet Phelps wasn't the pitcher everyone wanted to talk about by then.