Introduction to Pine Tar in Baseball
Pine tar is a sticky, brown, syrupy substance derived from pine trees. It has been used by baseball players for decades to improve their grip on the bat. However, its use has been banned in Major League Baseball (MLB) since 1985. In this article, we will explore why pine tar is illegal in baseball and what the rules are surrounding its use.
History of Pine Tar in Baseball
Pine tar has been used by players in baseball since the 19th century, when it was used to aid grip on the bat. It was not until the 1980s that the use of pine tar was questioned and ultimately prohibited by the MLB.
Prior to the 1980s, the use of pine tar was accepted in the game, and there was no rule against it. However, the 1983 American League Championship Series between the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees changed that. During the game, the Yankees’ manager, Billy Martin, accused Orioles’ third baseman Eddie Murray of having an excessive amount of pine tar on his bat. After a lengthy delay, Martin was ejected from the game, and the Orioles went on to win.
This incident sparked a debate on the use of pine tar in baseball and ultimately led to its prohibition.
Why Is Using Pine Tar Illegal in Baseball?
The use of pine tar is illegal in baseball because it gives the player an unfair advantage. Pine tar helps increase the player’s grip on the bat, making it easier to hit the ball harder and farther. This is why the MLB has banned the use of pine tar in the game.
The Pine Tar Rule
The official rule regarding the use of pine tar in baseball, commonly referred to as the Pine Tar Rule, is that no player may use pine tar on any part of a bat that is higher than 18 inches from the knob of the bat. This rule was put into place to ensure that players would not be able to gain an unfair advantage from using pine tar.
Pine Tar and Performance Enhancing Drugs
Pine tar is often compared to performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) such as steroids, as both substances give players an unfair advantage. However, there is an important distinction to be made between the two.
PEDs are illegal because they give players an unnatural and unhealthy advantage. On the other hand, pine tar is a natural substance that has been used in the game for decades. As such, it is not seen as a performance enhancer in the same way that PEDs are.
The Penalties for Using Pine Tar
The penalties for using pine tar in baseball are relatively minor compared to the penalties for using PEDs. If a player is caught using pine tar, they will typically be given a warning by the umpire and will be required to remove the pine tar from their bat. If the player refuses to remove the pine tar, they will be ejected from the game.
Notable Incidents Involving Pine Tar in Baseball
The 1983 American League Championship Series
As mentioned earlier, the 1983 American League Championship Series between the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees sparked a debate on the use of pine tar in baseball. This incident ultimately led to the prohibition of pine tar in the game.
The Pine Tar Incident Involving George Brett
In 1983, the Kansas City Royals’ George Brett was ejected from a game against the New York Yankees for using an excessive amount of pine tar on his bat. The game was later nullified, and Brett was allowed to play in the rescheduled game. Brett’s incident is perhaps the most famous example of a player being penalized for using pine tar.
The 2021 World Baseball Classic
In 2021, the World Baseball Classic (WBC) had to issue a warning to players regarding the use of pine tar. The warning stated that any player who was caught using pine tar would be subject to disciplinary action. This shows that the use of pine tar is still illegal and that there are still penalties in place for its use.
The use of pine tar in baseball is illegal because it gives the player an unfair advantage. The MLB has implemented the Pine Tar Rule to ensure that players do not gain an advantage from using pine tar. While the penalties for using pine tar are relatively minor compared to the penalties for using PEDs, players are still subject to disciplinary action if they are caught using it. There have been several notable incidents involving the use of pine tar in baseball, most notably the 1983 American League Championship Series and the Pine Tar Incident involving George Brett.
Overall, the use of pine tar in baseball is illegal, and players should be aware of the rules and the penalties they could face if they are caught using it.