David Ortiz dubbed it "way too obvious."
A.J. Pierzynski said, "It's bad for the game, it's bad for everything."
Jake Peavy dubbed it "offensive."
But when defining Michael Pineda's decision to march to the mound in the second inning Wednesday with a glob of pine tar on the right side of his neck, one generalization has to take priority: It was one of the dumbest maneuvers you will ever see on a Major League Baseball field.
We all love a landmark baseball game, and thanks to Pineda you got one in the Red Sox' 5-1 win over the Yankees at Fenway Park. Yes, this was historically stupid.
Think about it.
Pineda pushes his luck for four innings on April 10 with a healthy slathering of pine tar on his wrist. The Red Sox don't notify the umpires, saying they weren't aware of the substance until the fifth, and by then the Yankees starter had removed it. (Later he would coyly call the discoloration dirt.)
The Red Sox almost to a man give Pineda a free pass, dancing around the subject in postgame interviews with a hint of disgust because the righty had been so blatant about executing a practice many pitchers partake in.
Major League Baseball calls the Yankees and warns Pineda that such an act was over the top and won't be tolerated. No fine or suspension was to be handed down, just a stern Joe Torre scowl.
He pitches against the White Sox on another cold evening (high 40s), and pitches well, finishing with six shutout innings. And he did so without any sort of substance of discoloration being pinpointed by the television cameras.
Then comes the windy Wednesday night.
Pineda immediately allows two runs on four hits in the first inning. Then, after tossing his 40th pitch (a curveball to Grady Sizemore to make it 1-and-2 with two outs), Red Sox manager John Farrell does what all those at home were waiting for: He walks out to tell home plate umpire Gerry Davis that Pineda has pine tar on his neck.
It was almost like Davis didn't want to believe the lack of common sense. Even though Farrell had told him the substance in question was on Pineda's neck, the umpire proceeded to check seemingly everywhere else (glove, hand, left side of the neck) before finally putting his finger in the middle of the pool of pine tar under the pitcher's right ear.
Farrell had first noticed the shiny substance on the pitcher's neck all the way from the dugout. And then players, one by one, started coming up from the runway after witnessing the evidence on television monitors down by the batting cage. One by one they would surface, smirking in disbelief that Pineda would go down this road one more time.
In the world of baseball, it's hard to amaze. This, however, was amazing.
"I think we all took the high road, but we all knew what we saw," Peavy said of Pineda's first start against the Red Sox. "He said he got dirt on himself, which is fine. We let it go. But then you come back to this game … If we let something like that go, which is blatantly obvious, I think it speaks on the character and the state of this team. You can't blatantly cheat like that and not think we aren't going to say anything.
"It's offensive because everybody in baseball took the high road. Man for man we all took the high road. But then to come back 10 days later, on national television and just change the spot you have it on your body? That's just not right. I don't know what to say."
So, the next question has to be: How could Pineda be so blind to right and wrong?
His motivation wasn't that complicated. He has a hard time gripping a baseball in cold weather and uses pine tar as a crutch. He isn't alone. A lot of pitchers do the same thing. Understand that a rosin bag is best when it's warm, mixing with the sweat of the hurlers. It typically dissipates quickly in cold, windy weather. Pine tar, on the other hand … well, that's not going to lose its stick. It's like gold. It's just that you can't be blinged out in this stuff.
"I think grip is very important. If that was not the case then a lot of guys would be walking around in wheelchairs because it's cold," said Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves. "But you cannot be that blatant about it. I think using the rosin bag is very important, also."
When asked about the Red Sox pitchers being targeted by Yankees accusers, Nieves added, "We're safe in that aspect. We don't have to worry about that. We certainly use a lot of rosin. I don't expect that to happen. … It's a shame because he's a very talented guy. It was too blatant, I think."
"In the first inning I no feel the ball, and you know, I don'ÃÂt want to like hit anybody so I decide to use it," he said, later adding regarding the outcome, "I feel so sad."
Pierzynksi would understandably bemoan the fact the Pineda controversy took away from a really solid performance from John Lackey. He was right. Even David Ortiz's feat of tying Harold Baines for most games ever at designated hitter was pushed way under the storyline rug.
"It's one of those things that, we all know everyone does it," the Red Sox catcher said. "Look, I'm all for it. But you just can't do it that blatantly. That’s it. Everyone has something. Catchers have pine tar in their shinguards all the time. It's not a big deal. But as long as it's not blatant, you're just putting it out there. It's tough. I know John didn’t want to go out there. It was tough for him, it puts him in a bad spot. At some point, the rules are the rules and you’ve got to do what you can."
But this is supposed to be the beauty of baseball, seeing something you've never seen before. We've seen Lackey pitch well. We've witnessed Ortiz hit milestones. But what we really haven't come across is a big league baseball player be this oblivious.
This was like Clay Buchholz carrying a can of Bull Frog sunblock in his back pocket to the mound after being accused of using the agent in order to find better grips. Or Joe Niekro taping a nail filer to his forehead the start after being caught with the instrument in his back pocket.
The Yankees weren't about to turn this into a back-and-forth. There was no animosity towards the Sox' decision to call out Pineda. Why? Because they knew the obvious -- this was about as mindless as Major League Baseball gets.
”I think we'ÃÂre all embarrassed," said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. "We as a group are embarrassed that this has taken place. I think Michael'ÃÂs embarrassed. I think we're embarrassed that somehow he took the field with that in the position like that. It'ÃÂs just obviously a bad situation, and it clearly forced the opponents'ÃÂ hand to do something that I'ÃÂm sure they didn'ÃÂt want to do, but they had no choice but to do. Obviously we'ÃÂll deal with the ramifications of that now.”
Consider it the price of making history.