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A cheater by any other name

by Greg Belfrage

New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda got caught cheating during last night's game against the Red Sox. Pineda was ejected from the game after the home plate umpire confirmed he had pine tar on his neck.

Pineda was about as subtle as a 3 year old kid with cookie smeared all over his face who denies being in the cookie jar. The pine tar was streaked across his neck. It was so obvious and blatant that the ESPN announcers were talking about it prior to the umpire's call.

Red Sex management said they didn't want to point out Pineda's cheating, but it was so blatant that nobody could ignore the elephant in the room.

Incredibly, Pineda was caught using pine tar against the Red Sox earlier this month. Photos of Pineda's hand and uniform showed pine tar smeared all over.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi wasn't very concerned.

"He's a young kid," Girardi said. "I don't think he's doing anything to cheat. I think he's trying to compete. It's unfortunate it happened."

General Manager Brian Cashman seemed to take the incident a bit more seriously. He told reporters,"We as an organization are responsible."

Cashman said there had been "enough conversations" that Pineda knew what he was doing was wrong.

In other words, Pineda cheated.

Some fans and players have been quick to defend Pineda, saying lots of other pitchers and players also use pine tar.

Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski is making the case that everyone does it.

"Guys do it and I dont have a problem with it", Pierzynski said. "I know as a hitter I want to get in there knowing the guy has a grip. Put it on your hat, put it on your pants, put it on your belt, put it on your glove, whatever you have to do. But at some point you cant do it that blatantly."

That's a theme echoed by many in baseball. And it's wrong.

MLB rules say pitchers cannot put any substance on the ball.

The argument players and coaches are making is that it's fine if you cheat, as long as you are discreet and don't get caught.

However, cheating is like being "a little bit pregnant". Either you cheated or you didn't.

Baseball's sick rationalization of cheating may be an indication of why so many fans have grown disenchanted with the game in recent years.

It's time for those in baseball to start playing by the rules of the game.

UPDATE: Michael Pineda has been suspended for 10 games for last night's pine tar incident.

Greg Belfrage @belfrageshow is heard 6am-9am on KELO 1320 AM and 107.9 FM. Greg can be contacted at greg.belfrage@mwcradio.com.