January 26, 2013

Fake-to-Third, Throw-to-First Now a Balk: Major League Baseball has changed the rules to make it a balk when a pitcher fakes a pickoff throw to third base and then throws to first. The players association rejected the change last year but baseball owners voted to overrule them. Umpire Ted Barrett said in his 18 years of officiating the majors he's only seen it work once. The runner caught off base said to him, "Have you ever seen that work on anybody -- except me?"

posted by rcade to baseball at 02:01 PM - 8 comments

If this means no more Michael Kay references to the "Old Jeff Nelson" then I'm all for it.

posted by goddam at 02:34 PM on January 26

Harry Caray used to say that said play "went out with high-button shoes". Glad we can skip that nonsense now.

posted by TheQatarian at 02:55 PM on January 26

Yeah, I've always felt that move was in the spirit, if not the letter, of what a balk is defined as. After all, the below is one of the rules defining a balk, but previously the ftt,ttf move was considered an allowed exception. This change basically just enforces an existing balk rule more starkly:

throws from the mound to a base without stepping toward (gaining distance in the direction of) that base;

I've long felt the balk was a weird part of the baseball rules, since I think the balk gets called more for weird ticky-tack things (like a slight rolling of the shoulders that no one actually confuses for a deception aimed at the baserunners) than for stuff that might be seen as unfairly imbalancing the game.

But then again, a part of me can side with the purists: as soon as the pitcher's foot is off the rubber, it's your responsibility as a runner to keep your guard up.

posted by hincandenza at 04:59 PM on January 26

I can't remember how many high school and Babe Ruth coaches have screamed at me to call a balk whenever the opponent tries this play. Of course, they usually try the same thing an inning or 2 later. I have never seen it work either. As far as the "gaining distance" part of the balk rule is concerned, one of the more vocal coaches I worked with had a left-hander whose move was to stand on the rubber, move his right foot a few inches toward first, then throw to first from a flat-footed stance. I called him on it twice in one game, got a huge argument, and had to tell is coach that I would explain the call after the game. In high school rules it was considered giving a competitive advantage to explain a balk while the game was in progress. When I explained it, he was still doubtful, but the case book convinced him.

posted by Howard_T at 05:48 PM on January 26

Now they just need to make it illegal for a Left-hander to throw to first without taking his foot off the rubber. I hate that play and think it's really unfair for Lefties to be allowed to do it.

posted by DudeDykstra at 07:50 PM on January 26

Every time pick off moves get mentioned I remember this gem from R.A. Dickey.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 09:21 AM on January 27

Mike Cameron was so embarrassed, he retired from baseball 3 weeks later!

posted by hincandenza at 04:32 PM on January 27

I remember Steve Carlton (and I'm sure other lefties have done it) would set and start from the stretch, lift his left leg toward the plate, but enough forward toward first so that he could step and throw. The leg moving toward the plate would freeze the runner but it would look like a balk.

posted by jjzucal at 07:33 PM on January 27

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