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Monday, January 28, 2013

Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer voice displeasure over change to fake pickoff move

“I’m pissed,” Scherzer said during Saturday’s TigerFest at Comerica Park.

The move was used by pitchers to trick a runner on first base into trying to swipe second. It proved particularly effective for Scherzer, who picked off two baserunners with it last season.

“(Scherzer) gets one or two guys a year on that thing,” Justin Verlander said.

He won’t anymore.

Considered an age-old play, the Playing Rules Committee approved the proposal with MLB executives and umpires in agreement.

The players’ union vetoed the plan, but the collective bargaining agreement allowed MLB to implement the change after a one-year wait.

“Of course I’m opposed to it,” Verlander said. “Any time they take anything away from pitchers, which seems to be the common thing that past 15 years, I’m opposed.”

Proponents of the rule change argued the move slowed down the game, but Verlander wasn’t buying it.

“It happens once or twice a game. It might speed up the game by 15 seconds. Yay!” he said sarcastically. “Job well done.”

Thanks to Bohn.

Repoz Posted: January 28, 2013 at 07:42 AM | 51 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: tigers

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   1. Bug Selig Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:09 AM (#4356412)
But what does Kate Upton think?
   2. Xander Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:52 AM (#4356418)
He's right. The consternation with this particular move has always puzzled me. How many left-handed pick-off moves would be banned if MLB was actually worried about the deception of a pitcher's move?
   3. kcgard2 Posted: January 28, 2013 at 09:21 AM (#4356424)
@Xander: practically all of them.
   4. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 28, 2013 at 09:31 AM (#4356426)
The consternation with this particular move, I think, stems from the observation that so many pitchers do it so half-heartedly so often that it seems intended only to waste time, rather than to actually accomplish something. Pitchers like Scherzer who put a real effort into it and have success to show for that effort are so far and away the exception rather than the rule that they aren't even noticed. If left-handed pitchers' "balk" pickoff moves, as a group, were as ineptly performed as the third-to-first fake, MLB probably would have cracked down on those too.
   5. xdog Posted: January 28, 2013 at 09:58 AM (#4356432)
If they're so worried about the pitcher deceiving the opponents, why don't they ban the curveball?

You'd think MLB would have better things to do.
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 28, 2013 at 10:27 AM (#4356451)
The consternation with this particular move has always puzzled me.

It leads to an even remotely close play once every 50 times it's used. It's an annoying delay of the game; like multiple catcher visits to the mound.
   7. Greg K Posted: January 28, 2013 at 10:31 AM (#4356457)
It's an annoying delay of the game; like multiple catcher visits to the mound.

Agreed. Umps should issue yellow cards for time wasting. One warning per game then you're out!
   8. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: January 28, 2013 at 10:34 AM (#4356459)
It leads to an even remotely close play once every 50 times it's used. It's an annoying delay of the game; like multiple catcher visits to the mound.


But it's used more rarely than many other time wasting techniques that are still permitted. Mound visits from catchers, the 20 second rule, batters stepping out of the box, etc...etc...Even normal pickoff throws rarely are close (I think the once every 50 estimate is optimistic frankly).
   9. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: January 28, 2013 at 10:37 AM (#4356462)

Agreed. Umps should issue yellow cards for time wasting. One warning per game then you're out!


The more soccer I watch the more I like the yellow card/red card system. Yeah, you can be tossed for a particularly egregious offense but the idea of a formal warning--->ejection seems very effective. I think it puts the onus back on the players and managers when ejections happen. If Dustin Pedroia is screaming at Bob Davidson and Davidson pulls out the yellow Pedroia knows he'd better shut up. If he doesn't and gets tossed then it's really his own damned fault at that point.
   10. Greg K Posted: January 28, 2013 at 10:40 AM (#4356463)
But it's used more rarely than many other time wasting techniques that are still permitted. Mound visits from catchers, the 20 second rule, batters stepping out of the box, etc...etc...Even normal pickoff throws rarely are close (I think the once every 50 estimate is optimistic frankly).

Gotta start somewhere!

Perhaps this isn't the first step in the removal of time-wasting from the game...but it could be!
   11. just plain joe Posted: January 28, 2013 at 10:53 AM (#4356470)
Gotta start somewhere!

Perhaps this isn't the first step in the removal of time-wasting from the game...but it could be!


Yes, but much of the charm of baseball is the leisurely pace. If I want to watch a faster paced, time oriented game I can watch basketball, or hockey. This seems like a solution to something that isn't a real problem.
   12. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: January 28, 2013 at 10:57 AM (#4356475)
Has anyone crunched the numbers on pickoff throws and effectiveness?
   13. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: January 28, 2013 at 11:00 AM (#4356478)
I've seen a study (though I can't remember where) that suggests there's a substantial difference in CS% between no throws to first and one throw to first, but virtually no benefit to throwing over more than once.

'Course, there's the Game Theory angle to consider, where if a base stealer knows there will only ever be one throw over, he'd take a huge lead after that throw.
   14. BDC Posted: January 28, 2013 at 11:04 AM (#4356480)
the Game Theory angle to consider, where if a base stealer knows there will only ever be one throw over, he'd take a huge lead after that throw

Conversely, a lot of situations where the pitcher doesn't throw over are concessions – not technical indifference, hence they count as SB, but times when the defense figures it's better to concentrate on the batter than worry about the base. Studies might try to control for that, but since it's not a clear yes-no variable (there are degrees of caring about the SB, from not even looking over to making 4 or 5 throws, or pitching out), it would be really hard.
   15. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 28, 2013 at 11:10 AM (#4356483)
It leads to an even remotely close play once every 50 times it's used. It's an annoying delay of the game; like multiple catcher visits to the mound.

Not to mention it may be the most aesthetically clumsy and unappealing play imaginable. It's like watching a game of chess where a moron is trying to lure an imbecile into a trap.
   16. SoSH U at work Posted: January 28, 2013 at 11:11 AM (#4356484)
Hooray for Justin and Max. I was beginning to think I was the only person legitimately pissed by this foolishness.

Banning it won't speed up the game. Instead of using this move, pitchers will simply do something equally or more annoying (such as making a quick step off the rubber while making that hard glance over their left shoulder) in its place. And unlike the fake to third, throw to first, that move never results in anything.

This was a poorly thought-out decision.

   17. billyshears Posted: January 28, 2013 at 11:13 AM (#4356485)
Stolen bases are exciting, but everything pitchers do to stop stolen bases is boring. There should be rule that, so long as a runner's lead is within a designated distance from the base, the pitcher can't make a pick-off attempt. This would at least mostly limit the time wasting BS pick-off attempts, without unduly advantaging pitchers or runners.
   18. Xander Posted: January 28, 2013 at 11:14 AM (#4356486)
It leads to an even remotely close play once every 50 times it's used.

So...like a normal pick-off?
   19. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: January 28, 2013 at 11:17 AM (#4356489)
Verlander sure complains a lot for a guy who has had tons of success and goes home to Kate Upton.

   20. BDC Posted: January 28, 2013 at 11:21 AM (#4356490)
I dunno, just observationally, it seems as if one benefit of the 90s-00s offensive explosion was to limit SB attempts and consequently pickoff throws, too. If you really want boredom, take a time machine to the 1970s and watch Steve Carlton throw 12 times to first base in hopes of keeping Omar Moreno close to the bag. Carlton's move was perfectly calibrated, and just as interesting to watch as any other clock pendulum :)
   21. chemdoc Posted: January 28, 2013 at 11:29 AM (#4356497)
But what does Kate Upton think?


If I were Justin Verlander, I don't think worrying about whether she's faking is much of a concern. First base, third base...hey, touch 'em all, JV.
   22. Danny Posted: January 28, 2013 at 11:52 AM (#4356508)
The move was used by pitchers to trick a runner on first base into trying to swipe second. It proved particularly effective for Scherzer, who picked off two baserunners with it last season.

“(Scherzer) gets one or two guys a year on that thing,” Justin Verlander said.

FWIW, he's done it 4 times in 800 IP:

6/12/12: Runners at 1B and 3B
4/13/11: Runners at 1B and 3B (throw to 1B, runner on 3B thrown out trying to go home)
9/10/11: Runners at 1B and 3B (P-1B-SS)
5/16/09: Double Play: Jones Caught Stealing (PO) 2B (P-1B-SS); Escobar out at Hm/SS-3B
   23. salvomania Posted: January 28, 2013 at 12:06 PM (#4356513)
And a Cardinals' baserunner has fallen for this (at least) once in each of the past two seasons. It's such a dumb play that you can't believe someone falls for it, and yet someone does...

And to those who say they've never seen the play work: you need to get out of your mother's basement and watch more games!
   24. zonk Posted: January 28, 2013 at 12:14 PM (#4356517)
Maybe we should just play little league rules -- no leadoffs for anyone.
   25. DL from MN Posted: January 28, 2013 at 12:16 PM (#4356518)
a lot of situations where the pitcher doesn't throw over are concessions


A lot of situations where the pitcher does throw over are a good time to get concessions.

Stolen bases are exciting, but everything pitchers do to stop stolen bases is boring.


In some cases a pickoff move can heighten the anticipation - it clues you in that the opposition thinks the guy could steal. After two or three times though you're pretty certain the guy isn't going to get picked off even with the pitcher's best move.

   26. DL from MN Posted: January 28, 2013 at 12:17 PM (#4356519)
little league rules


That is one thing I don't like about this rule. The fake to third throw is still legal in college and high school. I tend to dislike things (like the DH) that make pro baseball different from other levels.
   27. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 28, 2013 at 12:24 PM (#4356528)
So...like a normal pick-off?

I don't like pick-offs either.
   28. SoSH U at work Posted: January 28, 2013 at 12:25 PM (#4356529)
That is one thing I don't like about this rule. The fake to third throw is still legal in college and high school. I tend to dislike things (like the DH) that make pro baseball different from other levels.


It also changes the rules between second and third, for no particular reason (and there is a logical reason why the rules are different between first and second/third). You could always fake a throw to second or third. Now, it's just second, with no real justification for the difference.

Moreover, holding runners is already signficiantly easier for lefthanded pitchers. This was one area where righties had an edge (though nowhere near as great as the lefthander's edge*, and baseball is tossing it out) for no real benefit.

* Even for pitchers without a balk move, it's still easier to hold runners on for a lefty.

   29. BDC Posted: January 28, 2013 at 12:46 PM (#4356541)
If they're so worried about the pitcher deceiving the opponents, why don't they ban the curveball?

A committee is studying a proposed ban on yelling "hey batter batter batter swing."
   30. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: January 28, 2013 at 12:54 PM (#4356545)
This was a poorly thought-out decision.

I'm kind of surprised this statement hasn't already reached meme levels here regarding decisions handed down from The Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, on a level with Authorities Believe Alcohol Was Involved or Her Father Is The District Attorney. It's like Selig got a letter from Springfield reading

Dear Mr. Selig,

There are too many rules nowadays. Please eliminate three.
P.S. I am not a crackpot.
   31. phredbird Posted: January 28, 2013 at 01:32 PM (#4356561)
And to those who say they've never seen the play work: you need to get out of your mother's basement and watch more games!


i've been to lots of games and never seen it work. i've watched thousands on tv and never seen it work.

but i've also never seen a no-hitter in person or on tv live.

never seen a triple play live, either.

i wonder what the chances are. this kinda bugs me.
   32. just plain joe Posted: January 28, 2013 at 01:50 PM (#4356573)
never seen a triple play live, either.


Not the only one I've seen live but I saw Manny Sanguillen ground into an around the horn triple play, when he was with the A's. IIRC he was out by a couple of steps at first.
   33. Baldrick Posted: January 28, 2013 at 01:50 PM (#4356575)
Not to mention it may be the most aesthetically clumsy and unappealing play imaginable. It's like watching a game of chess where a moron is trying to lure an imbecile into a trap.

Yes yes yes.
   34. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 28, 2013 at 01:54 PM (#4356582)
Why don't I care that MLB is making this silly pickoff move illegal?
   35. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 28, 2013 at 04:24 PM (#4356729)
Instead of using this move, pitchers will simply do something equally or more annoying (such as making a quick step off the rubber while making that hard glance over their left shoulder) in its place. And unlike the fake to third, throw to first, that move never results in anything.


The solution to this is to ban that "move" too, not to give up on banning any useless time-wasters. Do you never go fishing unless you can catch all the fish in the lake?
   36. Jeff Francoeur's OPS Posted: January 28, 2013 at 04:25 PM (#4356731)
Sarcastic little #######.
   37. Walt Davis Posted: January 28, 2013 at 04:29 PM (#4356739)
But what does Kate Upton think?

I have found that if you're making an unsuccessful move towards third, a quick move to first is the best strategy.
   38. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 28, 2013 at 04:43 PM (#4356755)
#37, well played. But apparently they like it if you fake toward third a few times before finally completing the move.
   39. salvomania Posted: January 28, 2013 at 04:46 PM (#4356757)
i've been to lots of games and never seen it work. i've watched thousands on tv and never seen it work.


Cmon, Phred, you're a Cardinals fan, don't you remember this?

With the tying runs on and two outs in the 9th, Papelbon gets Beltran to end the game on the ol' fake-to-3rd-go-to-1st.


   40. SoSH U at work Posted: January 28, 2013 at 04:49 PM (#4356759)
The solution to this is to ban that "move" too, not to give up on banning any useless time-wasters. Do you never go fishing unless you can catch all the fish in the lake?


I guess this makes sense if you support one of those silly "limit the number of pickoff throws" rules that get tossed around. But if you don't, then realize you're just trading one "time-wasting" method for another. Pitchers will do what it takes to hold runners on. This is one method, not used very often, which occasionally, though not frequently, results in the types of plays listed by Danny in 22. And those plays are VERY GOOD THINGS.

But forget that part, there is no reason to think they'll be banning that move as well. As far as I can tell, the sole determining reason for this change is because too many people thought this one move looked "stoopid," and one of them got Bud's ear. Obviously, they haven't given the entire matter a ton of thought, otherwise they'd have realized how foolish this change is.

There are meaningful ways to cut out time from the average game. Just implement "get the #### in the box" and "pitch the ####### ball," mandates and you'll remove 100X the downtime from games than silly little rules like this ever will.

This new rule changes the way pitchers hold runners on second vs. third, without any logical reason for differing rules. There's now greater inconsistency in the rulebook, which sucks.

This new rule limits righthanded pitchers' ability to hold on runners, while doing nothing to harm the ability of their lefthanded counterparts (who already have an enormous edge in that department).

This new rule will cut no time out of the game barring any other changes, none of which appear on the horizon, and implementation of which would materially affect the way the game is played.

This new rule limits the number of times that stupid baserunning is penalized.

OTOH, you'll have one fewer play where the uneducated goofball next to you yells "Balk"* when the opposing pitcher tries it. That's the upside.

* He'll still do it when the pitcher lifts his left leg and then pivots back toward second, so the ballpark experience won't be completely misguided-balk-call free.
   41. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 28, 2013 at 05:00 PM (#4356770)
Just implement "get the #### in the box" and "pitch the ####### ball," mandates and you'll remove 100X the downtime from games than silly little rules like this ever will.


I propose that we add two umpires to each crew -- one to stand in the on-deck circle and scream "get the #### in the box" and the other to stand behind the pitcher's mound and scream "pitch the ####### ball."

OTOH, you'll have one fewer play where the uneducated goofball next to you yells "Balk"* when the opposing pitcher tries it. That's the upside.


I always yell "balk" every time the guy pitching for the team I'm rooting against attempts a pickoff, and half the time when he throws a pitch with a runner on base. Been doing it since Babe Ruth League. For some strange reason, major league umpires seem much less suggestible.
   42. Nasty Nate Posted: January 28, 2013 at 05:09 PM (#4356789)
But if you don't, then realize you're just trading one "time-wasting" method for another.


Not necessarily. This play is often used not as a time-waster or stalling move, but in an attempt to actually get a guy out. Pitchers are not necessarily going to attempt a straight-ahead pickoff move for every situation in which they would have tried a fake-to-third move in the past.
   43. DL from MN Posted: January 28, 2013 at 05:12 PM (#4356800)
the uneducated goofball next to you yells "Balk"


The uneducated goofballs sitting next to me were mostly watching cat videos on their phone. I would have loved to sit near someone who at least understood that the "balk" rule existed.
   44. SoSH U at work Posted: January 28, 2013 at 05:15 PM (#4356802)
Not necessarily. This play is often used not as a time-waster or stalling move, but in an attempt to actually get a guy out. Pitchers are not necessarily going to attempt a straight-ahead pickoff move for every situation in which they would have tried a fake-to-third move in the past.


No, but they may step off more. Or take longer to deliver the ball. And considering it doesn't happen all that often to begin with, it's truly a pointless endeavor if speeding up the game is the real motivation.

   45. Nasty Nate Posted: January 28, 2013 at 05:19 PM (#4356809)
This new rule limits righthanded pitchers' ability to hold on runners, while doing nothing to harm the ability of their lefthanded counterparts (who already have an enormous edge in that department).


Someday I want to see a righty pick off a guy from third using the move that lefties use to first.
   46. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 28, 2013 at 05:19 PM (#4356810)
I propose that we add two umpires to each crew -- one to stand in the on-deck circle and scream "get the #### in the box" and the other to stand behind the pitcher's mound and scream "pitch the ####### ball."

I propose we electrify the pitching mound so that if a pitcher still is holding the ball within 12 seconds with no one on (20 is too long) the pitcher gets a shock.
   47. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 28, 2013 at 06:37 PM (#4356912)
I guess this makes sense if you support one of those silly "limit the number of pickoff throws" rules that get tossed around.


I do. Specifically, Bill James' suggestion of charging a ball to the batter after, I think, the second pickoff throw. I also support banning all fakes/whirls/stepoffs, along with all of the above proposals to enforce the "get the #### in the box" and "pitch the ####### ball" rules.
   48. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:05 PM (#4356966)
I propose we electrify the pitching mound so that if a pitcher still is holding the ball within 12 seconds with no one on (20 is too long) the pitcher gets a shock.


The rule is 12 seconds, not 20. Not sure why so many people think it's 20. Probably because there's no electric shock rule.

8.04
When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call "Ball." The 12-second timing starts when the pitcher is in possession of the ball and the batter is in the box, alert to the pitcher. The timing stops when the pitcher releases the ball.
The intent of this rule is to avoid unnecessary delays. The umpire shall insist that the catcher return the ball promptly to the pitcher, and that the pitcher take his position on the rubber promptly. Obvious delay by the pitcher should instantly be penalized by the umpire.
   49. phredbird Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:23 PM (#4356982)
i've been to lots of games and never seen it work. i've watched thousands on tv and never seen it work.


Cmon, Phred, you're a Cardinals fan, don't you remember this?

With the tying runs on and two outs in the 9th, Papelbon gets Beltran to end the game on the ol' fake-to-3rd-go-to-1st.


oh, lordy. they made the playoffs and had a good run, so i can be philosophical now, but boy i would have thrown something at the tv if i'd been watching that.
   50. Howie Menckel Posted: January 28, 2013 at 09:30 PM (#4357023)

"OTOH, you'll have one fewer play where the uneducated goofball next to you yells "Balk"* when the opposing pitcher tries it. That's the upside."

It would be awesome if all the goofballs suddenly flipped from now on, sitting silent as the play was attempted while the umpire now called a balk after all.

   51. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 28, 2013 at 09:46 PM (#4357029)
Of course the goofballs will still yell "balk" every time an opposing pitcher steps off the rubber and fakes a throw to any base, which they are still allowed to do.

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