Gaylord Perry, the baseball Hall of Famer with a notorious reputation for doctoring baseballs, says the Yankees' Michael Pineda has to learn how to be, well, a better cheater.
"The only problem I have is it's just so obvious," the 75-year-old Perry said by phone Thursday. "He didn't try to hide it. He's just learning a few tricks of the trade, but just not very good."
Pineda, who was ejected on Wednesday night because of the pine tar found in a straight line on the right side of his neck, received a 10-game suspension Thursday.
Perry said a friend of his from Boston called him during the game and alerted him to what was going on with Pineda. Once Perry turned on his TV and saw the streak of pine tar on Pineda's neck, he was shocked at Pineda's lack of effort to conceal the foreign substance.
"He's just not trying to hide it," said Perry, who won 314 games during a 22-year career thanks in part to an illegal spitball. "That's the worst thing . . . It was so obvious it was ridiculous."
Technically, Major League Baseball rules ban pitchers from using pine tar, which allows them to get a better grip and more spin on their breaking balls. But most people agree it's an accepted practice within the game as long as pitchers are not obvious about it.
"I'm sure he'll find a way of using the rosin bag or using pine tar where they can't see it and he'll come back and do well," Perry said. "But he's got to be more discreet than what he was."
Perry, for the record, says he never used pine tar during his 22-year career that ended in 1983, but said it's always been popular among pitchers.
As for what Perry actually did do to the ball during his playing days, he was coy. He insisted that his reputation for doctoring baseballs is overblown because he always talked openly about doing so as a player to get inside hitters' heads.
"I used to shake a guy's hand the day before I was pitching and I'd have my hand filled with Vaseline," Perry said, "just so they would be thinking about it all night and the next day."
But did he use Vaseline on the mound?
Perry was ejected only once, in 1982, and was given a 10-day suspension because the umpire found a substance on the ball. As for whether he actually did put something on the ball, he laughed and said, "I don't remember doing that."
Then he excused himself from the phone call.