Rob Dibble was a two-time All-Star, a World Series Champion and an NLCS MVP. If anyone knows how to pitch – and pitch while putting a foreign substance on the ball – it’s him.
And even he can’t get over how foolish Michael Pineda was to a) use pine tar and b) use it so blatantly.
“Pine tar is to get better grip, and a better grip means get a better breaking ball,” Dibble said on The Morning Show. “Michael Pineda throws 95 to 98 miles an hour. He doesn’t need a grip on his fastball. To go out there in the start against the Red Sox and have pine tar on you hand and then have it on your neck, it’s not even blatant; it’s just kind of stupid. Another pitcher in the dugout, an older guy – even a C.C. Sabathia – should have been like, ‘Listen, if you’re going to use pine tar, put it on your hat, put it on your glove.’”
“But let me go a step further,” Dibble continued. “Your hands, for a pitcher, are everything. Pine tar is probably the worst substance to put on your fingers. It’ll tear the skin right off your fingers on a breaking ball, and then you’re going on the disabled list for two weeks. So it’s kind of stupid.”
Instead of pine tar, Dibble said it’s better to use rosin, sweat or hair gel.
“You can get a grip, even if it’s cold,” he said. “So pine tar is probably the scariest thing other than super glue to put on your fingers. When you make a living with your hands – that’s how obvious this kid was making it, to the point where now you’re embarrassing us. That’s one of the worst unwritten rules in baseball.”
Dibble admits he had a pre-game routine of his own for doctoring the baseball.
“Before a game even started, I would put Gatorade on the ball because I always carried a ball,” he said. “Most pitchers, if you’re smart, you’re always working on your grip anyway. I would take a game ball out of the bag, put Gatorade on it and then put rosin on it. And then when the seven inning or eighth inning came around when it was my time to pitch, you work up a good sweat warming up, you go out there and you rub up the baseball, the Gatorade was still on my hand, rosin is still out there – it’s just stuff that was available to me. And it wasn’t going to tear up my hands or anything else like that.”
But Gatorade isn’t the only out-of-the-box substance you can use. Dibble’s former teammate, Norm Charlton, would put KY jelly in his gums. He’d also go to his mouth pretty often – almost every pitch.
“You can’t go to your mouth on the dirt,” Dibble explained. “So if you’re going to put spit or put anything else on the ball, you have to go off on the grass. You have to fake it like you’re wiping it off. So watch pitchers. Watch what they do when they step off the mound. That’s when they’re trying to get something on the ball.”
But nothing, Dibble reiterated, is worse than pine tar.
“That’s one of the worst ways a pitcher can go about getting an extra grip,” he said. “And then to gob a whole thing on your neck, it was like, are you really being serious? It’s almost like you’re being so stupid you’re laughing at us. That’s why I think they called him out on it.”