The Game that Fuels it All

Pine Tar is a substance found in every MLB dugout. Pine Tar is a sticky material used to by batters to give a better grip when using wooden baseball bats. However, currently Pine Tar is illegal for any pitcher to use while actually pitching. Similar to how pine tar gives a batter grip, pine tar gives pitcher grip and control of his pitches. Pine Tar has led to many scandals including the Pine Tar Game or the Bryce Harper incident. The most recent incident happened last week when Yankees Pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected from the game and suspended for ten games for having a foreign substance on his neck (pine tar).  The Yankees were playing the Red Sox’s when the Sox’s manager brought attention to a substance on the neck of Pineda. This was not Pineda’s first offense with pine tar; he was warned the earlier in the season for having pine tar on his wrist/hand while playing the Red Sox’s.

Michael Pineda is a 25 year old pitcher form the Dominican Republic who signed with the Seattle Mariners at age 16. He had his Major League debuted with the Seattle Mariners in 2011. He was traded to the Yankees in 2012.  Pineda suffered an anterior labral tear in his right shoulder in the beginning of the 2012 season. He underwent surgery during the 2012 season and was unable to play at all during the 2012 season. After a season spent in the minors, Pineda was able to make it to the Yankees starting rotation.

The Yankees and the Red Soxs have a long standing well-known rivalry to say the least. Games between the two are highly-competitive and heated meaning there is pressure on all the players to preform (or deal with the wrath of their fans).  Looking at Pineda’s relatively difficult start in the MLB it is easy to say that the man is under a lot of pressure. While Pineda has only pitched 4 games so far in the 2014 season, I do not think by any means it is a coincidence that both times the pitcher has gotten in trouble it was against the Red Soxs a high pressure game where he could make a name for himself.

According to Klein, Dominican players have extreme pressure on them to succeed in the majors due to the poverty of both their families and their community and the past success of Dominican players in the league.  This means that many players do anything possible to make their big league dreams a reality including cheat. Dominican players have been heavily linked to the usage of steroid and HGH. The rationality of cheating has been linked to pressure in recent studies. Dominican players constantly fear a premature end of their career which for Dominicans means “You’re worthless. This is a failure. He was given the opportunity and he failed” (Klein 1993). This pressure seems almost inevitable when you are in a foreign country trying to make yourself and your whole community proud and simultaneously play good baseball. In the end, I am by no means justifying cheating. I am however arguing that the baseballs biggest concern should not be a pitcher with pine tar on their hand, but a country and players who are completely dependent on the pipe dream of playing professional baseball.

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