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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sporting News: New MLB rule makes fake pickoff move a balk

“Hey Rocky, watch me fake a throw to third and pick the runner off at first!”
“But that trick never works.”
“This time for sure! Presto!”

Balk on Bullwinkle, beginning in 2013:

Under a rule change imposed by Major League Baseball, pitchers will no longer be allowed to fake a pickoff to third base and throw to first as a way to dupe a runner on first base into breaking for second. Next season, that move would be a balk. Pitchers can still step off the rubber and fake to third.


Mike Emeigh Posted: January 27, 2013 at 03:50 PM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rules

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   1. Rafael Bellylard: The Grinch of Orlando. Posted: January 27, 2013 at 04:03 PM (#4356092)
We should have a pool for the first balk called for this in the regular season. You know SOMEONE is going to screw this up and do it.
   2. Joe Kehoskie Posted: January 27, 2013 at 04:07 PM (#4356095)
If we're betting on the umpire, Bob Davidson or the field?
   3. Justin T seeks a heterospecific consortship Posted: January 27, 2013 at 04:29 PM (#4356114)
If we're taking bets, I place my wager on nobody. It's not like this is any kind of instinctive move. Nobody has to try and break a lifelong habit.
   4. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: January 27, 2013 at 04:40 PM (#4356123)
So if a pitcher moves to third, is there any reason for the runner on first not to go? Can the pitcher move to third and then throw to second?
   5. The Ghost of Sox Fans Past Posted: January 27, 2013 at 05:06 PM (#4356140)
Hmm, this could lead to new tactics. Let's say the pitcher actually throws to third. Maybe the runner on first could get caught, 1-5-3, taking his secondary lead, or even taking off for second on the pitcher's movement?

I'm going to miss arguing with people who say it never works, because sometimes it does.
   6. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 27, 2013 at 05:08 PM (#4356141)
sometimes it never works
   7. SoSH U at work Posted: January 27, 2013 at 05:37 PM (#4356157)
Since I haven't seen otherwise, I assume you can still pivot and not throw to second.

I think this is an asinine, pointless change. You got rid of a perfectly benign play, one that did in fact work on very rare occasion against stupid baserunners (a class that should in fact be penalized whenever possible), for no real benefit to the game.
   8. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 27, 2013 at 05:41 PM (#4356161)
i am surprised that the sporting news is still around in any form
   9. Brian White Posted: January 27, 2013 at 06:37 PM (#4356181)
for no real benefit to the game.

I consider never again having to watch that fake-to-third, look-at-first move to be a real benefit.
   10. SoSH U at work Posted: January 27, 2013 at 06:59 PM (#4356188)

I consider never again having to watch that fake-to-third, look-at-first move to be a real benefit.

It will only be replaced by greater application of the step off the rubber, make a furtive look over the left shoulder move. I guess if you're a big fan of that particular maneuver, and only wish pitchers employed this tactic at far greater rates, I can see how this would be a fantastic change. Otherwise, not so much.

   11. Bug Selig Posted: January 27, 2013 at 07:40 PM (#4356208)
I hate the move, but would have preferred simply a clarification that a fake to third means a fake to third. Too often the feint/fake was nothing more than picking up the left foot and making some token twitch toward that general side of the infield, thus relieving him of the burdens of the pitching position. If the move had to consist of an actual step toward third base and an actual fake throw, knock yourself out.
   12. SavoyBG Posted: January 27, 2013 at 09:58 PM (#4356274)
Before this rule, after the pitcher faked to third he could them throw it anywhere, even to the CFer if he wanted to. The pitcher can be on the rubber and throw it to 2B if there's a runner on 1B who is trying to advance.
   13. SavoyBG Posted: January 27, 2013 at 10:00 PM (#4356275)
I am a high school umpire, and the move will still be legal in high school as far as I know. It works a lot more often in high school games. the kid on first, if he has the steal sign, will take off for 2B often on the move. I even had a one run game that ended on that play, the pitcher faked to third, and then just threw to 2B, the runner from 1B never looked at what was going on, he just took off on first movement and was out at 2B to end the game.

   14. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 27, 2013 at 10:22 PM (#4356282)
This reminds me of this sports gif which had a hilarious explanation of balks with it.

Balks are so complicated. If you sat me down and asked me to write out, to the best of my understanding, the Major League Baseball rule book, the section for "balks" would look something like this.

1. You can't just be up there and just doin' a balk like that.
1a. A balk is when you
1b. Okay well listen. A balk is when you balk the
1c. Let me start over
1c-a. The pitcher is not allowed to do a motion to the, uh, batter, that prohibits the batter from doing, you know, just trying to hit the ball. You can't do that.
1c-b. Once the pitcher is in the stretch, he can't be over here and say to the runner, like, "I'm gonna get ya! I'm gonna tag you out! You better watch your butt!" and then just be like he didn't even do that.
1c-b(1). Like, if you're about to pitch and then don't pitch, you have to still pitch. You cannot not pitch. Does that make any sense?
1c-b(2). You gotta be, throwing motion of the ball, and then, until you just throw it.
1c-b(2)-a. Okay, well, you can have the ball up here, like this, but then there's the balk you gotta think about.
1c-b(2)-b. Fairuza Balk hasn't been in any movies in forever. I hope she wasn't typecast as that racist lady in American History X.
1c-b(2)-b(i). Oh wait, she was in The Waterboy too! That would be even worse.
1c-b(2)-b(ii). "get in mah bellah" -- Adam Water, "The Waterboy." Haha, classic...
1c-b(3). Okay seriously though. A balk is when the pitcher makes a movement that, as determined by, when you do a move involving the baseball and field of
2. Do not do a balk please.

And now, at last, I can point to a balk and say, "see? He did something! That is a balk!" Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Mike Pelfrey.
   15. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: January 27, 2013 at 11:13 PM (#4356299)
I still think one of the most positively-impactful rule changes that could actually be done by MLB would be limiting the number of pickoff throws per plate appearance (or per inning, or per baserunner). It slows the game down, it is totally boring most of the time, and it is sometimes abused.

If you said something like, "a pitcher can only throw to first twice per plate appearance", then after the first throw over, there would be a lot of strategy. And, by the way, I would count an extended holding of the ball from the stretch as one of your two "moves" per plate appearance...
   16. Meatwad Posted: January 27, 2013 at 11:16 PM (#4356302)
Thats gives too much advantage to the runner. Take a decent lead slide in. So it again and presto you can take what ever lead you want with no reprecussions
   17. bobm Posted: January 27, 2013 at 11:19 PM (#4356303)
[2] If we're betting on the umpire, Bob Davidson or the field?

I'll take Hunter Wendelstedt.

2012 MLB Pitching Splits by Umpire, Sorted by Balks

Split                   IP BK   BF  WHIP
Chris Guccione       515.1  9 2146 1.248
Angel Hernandez      613.0  6 2524 1.191
Paul Emmel           590.0  5 2601 1.439
Todd Tichenor        580.0  5 2520 1.424
Adrian Johnson       591.0  5 2496 1.264
Hunter Wendelstedt   213.1  5  903 1.252
Jeff Nelson          622.0  5 2616 1.272
Lance Barksdale      601.0  4 2545 1.301
Ron Kulpa            592.0  4 2447 1.206
Rob Drake            609.1  4 2665 1.420
Paul Nauert          623.2  4 2674 1.331
Cory Blaser          458.2  4 1943 1.321
D.J. Reyburn         566.1  4 2412 1.294
Bill Welke           544.2  4 2331 1.364
Jerry Meals          616.0  4 2624 1.315
Manny Gonzalez       524.1  3 2230 1.343
Laz Diaz             593.0  3 2505 1.310
Mike Winters         599.0  3 2469 1.185
Tony Randazzo        561.0  3 2439 1.392
Tim Welke            584.0  3 2451 1.259
Tim Tschida          473.0  3 2011 1.334
Brian ONora          618.2  3 2567 1.224
Alan Porter          632.1  3 2690 1.335
Angel Campos         292.2  3 1279 1.442
Dan Bellino          571.2  3 2411 1.279
Greg Gibson          552.1  3 2402 1.392
Jerry Layne          577.2  3 2460 1.361
Jim Joyce            599.0  3 2631 1.439
Mark Wegner          611.0  2 2636 1.342
Marvin Hudson        571.1  2 2450 1.348
Kerwin Danley        463.2  2 2020 1.406
Lance Barrett        416.0  2 1799 1.349
Larry Vanover        606.1  2 2557 1.286
Wally Bell           598.2  2 2529 1.256
Scott Barry          558.0  2 2337 1.235
Paul Schrieber       617.0  2 2680 1.374
Brian Runge          499.1  2 2075 1.202
Dale Scott           542.0  2 2324 1.330
Alfonso Marquez      585.2  2 2462 1.262
James Hoye           633.0  2 2684 1.338
Gerry Davis          574.0  2 2440 1.287
Gary Darling         628.2  2 2704 1.360
Dana DeMuth          601.0  2 2530 1.275
Marty Foster         619.0  1 2613 1.265
Mike Everitt         619.0  1 2570 1.212
Mark Carlson         614.1  1 2599 1.289
Joe West             570.1  1 2436 1.329
Vic Carapazza        615.1  1 2567 1.201
Tom Hallion          612.0  1 2595 1.319
Ted Barrett          578.2  1 2457 1.301
Phil Cuzzi           586.1  1 2476 1.284
Chad Fairchild       491.2  1 2122 1.375
Brian Knight         541.0  1 2261 1.246
Andy Fletcher        546.0  1 2346 1.333
Bill Miller          588.1  1 2473 1.268
Dan Iassogna         582.2  1 2453 1.239
Jeff Kellogg         596.1  1 2410 1.142
Gary Cederstrom      640.0  1 2700 1.255
Doug Eddings         571.2  1 2404 1.294
Ed Hickox            554.2  1 2309 1.235
Eric Cooper          602.1  1 2538 1.267
Fieldin Culbreth     636.1  1 2691 1.292
Mike DiMuro          298.2  0 1292 1.403
Mike Estabrook       485.0  0 2114 1.408
Mike Muchlinski      552.2  0 2353 1.341
Mark Ripperger        53.0  0  232 1.340
Jim Wolf             599.1  0 2578 1.375
John Tumpane          51.2  0  240 1.742
Tim Timmons          613.2  0 2606 1.305
Tim McClelland       586.0  0 2549 1.401
Sam Holbrook         602.2  0 2584 1.395
Jim Reynolds         631.0  0 2684 1.296
CB Bucknor           548.2  0 2357 1.378
Chris Conroy         574.1  0 2495 1.395
Brian Gorman         584.1  0 2445 1.256
Bob Davidson         624.0  0 2677 1.370
David Rackley        159.0  0  655 1.157
Derryl Cousins       546.2  0 2333 1.352
Ed Rapuano           175.0  0  746 1.337

Source: BB-REF
   18. jacjacatk Posted: January 27, 2013 at 11:57 PM (#4356325)
Davidson balked Hamels twice in the same game (4/20/12) from 2B, so I assume you're running that report for HP umpire only?
   19. Papa Squid Posted: January 28, 2013 at 01:11 AM (#4356362)
Pat Hentgen must be rolling in his grave!
   20. Baldrick Posted: January 28, 2013 at 01:18 AM (#4356363)
Having to listen to people yell "Balk! Balk!" at this move was a serious drain on my utility. Good job MLB.
   21. morineko Posted: January 28, 2013 at 01:27 AM (#4356366)
14: I think Mike Pelfrey is my new favorite pitcher ever now. Because darn if I wouldn't have done that at least once. Or twice. Or 10 times. I drop a lot of stuff.
   22. John Northey Posted: January 28, 2013 at 06:18 AM (#4356409)
If they'd enforce the 20 second rule then the stare at first would be a non-factor - stare too long and a ball is called. That rule, if enforced, could really speed things up. Especially if they make it stronger - 20 seconds from the time the catcher throws the ball to the pitcher the pitch must be thrown, if not then a ball is called unless the batter is not in the box in which case a strike is called. Time called by the batter or pitcher only granted for legit reasons (ie: dirt blows in eye, leg spontaneously breaks, ...)
   23. just plain joe Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:24 AM (#4356425)
If they'd enforce the 20 second rule then the stare at first would be a non-factor

I think the 20 second rule only applies when no one is on base, the pitcher is allowed to take as long as he deems necessary with runners on. I could be wrong about this, don't have time to look it up right now.
   24. Greg K Posted: January 28, 2013 at 09:13 AM (#4356436)
Thats gives too much advantage to the runner. Take a decent lead slide in. So it again and presto you can take what ever lead you want with no reprecussions

I think it depends on the penalty for additional throws to first. I liked Bill James' idea of 2nd unsuccessful throw results in a ball to the batter. Minor penalty, but pitcher will probably only throw over if he thinks he can get him. Plus, he won't be wasting that first throw on a courtesy check.
   25. Greg K Posted: January 28, 2013 at 09:18 AM (#4356439)
Also, not sure how you legislate against it, but it appears to me that sometimes the catcher gives a "don't do anything sign". Which essentially calls for the pitcher to stand there on the mound until the batter gets tired of waiting and steps out.

The 3rd to 1st move also seems to be the go-to action for when a manager just wants to buy an extra few pitches for his bullpen to warm up. Which I find annoying to no end. You've been planning to bring your lefty in to face this guy since last inning, and you didn't have enough time to warm him up?

I'm not sure why time-wasting with pitchers is so annoying to me, it's not like I was alive back when relief pitchers were handled any differently and can remember a better time.
   26. DL from MN Posted: January 28, 2013 at 11:25 AM (#4356530)
Pitchers can still step off the rubber and fake to third.

Stepping off, taking a step over and throwing to first might even be a better move. It won't go away, it will just evolve.

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