BOSTON -- OK, so what happens next?
There is, after all, a precedent of gamesmanship that suggests the New York Yankees will not let the Boston Red Sox -- especially the Red Sox -- get away with an act that led to the ejection and probable suspension of Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda for illegally applying pine tar to his neck.
Red Sox manager John Farrell acknowledged that he was leaving himself open to a response of some nature when he asked plate umpire Gerry Davis to check Pineda in the second inning.
"We'll see what tomorrow brings," Farrell said after Wednesday night's 5-1 win over the Yankees. "I don't know that. As obvious as this was, I felt it needed to be checked at the time."
Farrell, a former pitcher, said he has never been involved in a game as a manager or coach in which his team asked that a pitcher be inspected.
"I'm well aware of what the thought across the field might be," he said. "Maybe more of a willingness to have our guys checked. But again, I think there's an accepted level of some additive used to gain a grip. Just felt like in the two starts that we've had against Pineda, that's been a little bit above that."
Here's the thing: The major league rulebook takes one position. The Red Sox, even as they profited from Pineda's ejection, took another Wednesday night.
The rulebook (Rule 8.02, to be precise): It's illegal for a pitcher to a have foreign substance in his possession or on his person. It's also illegal to apply that substance to a baseball. That's why Davis threw out Pineda after finding pine tar on his neck in the second inning. Davis said it was pine tar. The Yankees admitted afterward it was pine tar.
The Sox? The message that was repeated in so many words was that it's OK to cheat -- it might even be in everyone's best interests that you cheat -- but for god's sake, don't be so obvious about it.
"Guys do it," Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "I don't have a problem with guys doing it as a hitter, especially on a night where it's cold and windy.
"Put it on your hat, put it on your pants. Put it on your belt. Put it on your glove. Whatever you've got to do. But at some point you can't do it that blatantly. I think that's what the biggest issue was. No one has an issue with him doing it, but that it was so blatant."
When Pineda faced the Red Sox April 10 in New York, he had what appeared to be pine tar on the palm of his pitching hand. By the time Farrell became apprised of that fact, Pineda had wiped his hand clean, and the Sox did not make an in-game issue of it, though afterward Farrell objected to how "blatant" Pineda was.
But Wednesday night, when the area between Pineda's silver necklace and his right ear was lathered with pine tar, Farrell said he felt he'd been given no choice.
"It looked from the dugout that there was substance on his neck," Farrell said. "You could see it. I could see it from the dugout. It was confirmed by a number of camera angles in the ballpark, and given the last time we faced him, I felt like it was a necessity to say something. When it's that obvious, something has to be said.