In Wednesday night’s start against the Red Sox, Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected in the second inning after he was caught with pine tar on his neck. Major League Baseball handed down a 10-game suspension the next day for the right-hander’s violation of the rules.
Pineda’s shame may only last through the season, however. In a report by the Associated Press, commissioner Bud Selig said that Major League Baseball “ought to look at all this” after the 2014 season concludes. While many have condemned Pineda, others have said he only did blatantly what scores of pitchers have been doing discreetly for decades.
MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred offered a comment on the issue:
“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,” MLB chief operating officer Rob 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.”
To MLB’s credit, they have been more swift than they have in the past in addressing questionable rules. For example, Major League Baseball recently abandoned the strict interpretation of the transfer rule. It shouldn’t be difficult for them to develop new or altered criteria which won’t implicitly reward surreptitious behavior.
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?