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Sunday, July 10, 2022

Reds beat Rays via 23rd walk-off balk in MLB history

A game between the Cincinnati Reds and Tampa Bay Rays ended in bizarre fashion on Friday when, with runners on the corners and one out in the bottom of the 10th, home plate umpire Edwin Moscoso called a balk on Rays pitcher Matt Wisler.

Wisler appeared to have moved his glove to encourage catcher Francisco Mejía to go through his signs again, but Moscoso apparently thought it was too much movement. Pitchers can not halt their motion to a set position once it has begun, as Reds analyst Chris Welsh explained.

With the game tied at 1-1, the balk scored the runner on third and ended the game.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 10, 2022 at 06:45 PM | 29 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rays, reds

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Brian White Posted: July 10, 2022 at 09:08 PM (#6086179)
BALK RULES! IMPORTANT!
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.
   2. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: July 10, 2022 at 09:40 PM (#6086183)
Oh man, for an ump to end the game by fiat like this, it's got to be super egregious. Obviously I agree with 1 about the clarity of the balk rule, so I'm not going say whether this was a balk or not. But man, to just say that the game is over...
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 11, 2022 at 12:21 AM (#6086193)
#1 cracks me up every time
   4. John Northey Posted: July 11, 2022 at 11:13 AM (#6086214)
Watched that a few times and can't see anything that could be a balk. Geez, I love to see the Rays lose but what the heck?
   5. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 11, 2022 at 11:22 AM (#6086216)

I assume the runner on third was the ghost runner, too? What a way to lose a ballgame...
   6. Walt Davis Posted: July 11, 2022 at 08:45 PM (#6086284)
So what about other stuff? Has there been a walk-off catcher's interference? We had the 4th out thing the other day, was that a walk-off? Walk-off double (triple?) steal? Walk-off runner scores from 2nd on sac fly? Walk-off catcher touched the ball with his mask?
   7. PeteF3 Posted: July 11, 2022 at 09:30 PM (#6086301)
Walk-off catcher touched the ball with his mask?


Yes.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: July 11, 2022 at 09:40 PM (#6086302)
Good find. Title of the clip calls it "catcher's interference" but I don't think that's correct. It's touching the ball illegally with a piece of equipement, like how you can't throw your glove and hit the ball or catch it in your hat. I mean I assume that's interference and on the C in this case but isn't "catcher's interference" limited to the C interfering with the swing?

Seems I shoulda known about that one (and I think it's been mentioned here before). LaSorda also got the Cubs on that once but not to win the game, just to score a couple of runs. Similar completely inconsequential interference.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: July 11, 2022 at 11:08 PM (#6086326)
#1 has missed rule 3: "unless you are Luis Tiant in which case all balks are a natural part of your delivery."
   10. NaOH Posted: July 11, 2022 at 11:10 PM (#6086328)
Walk-off obstruction (from the 2013 World Series)

Not requested... Walk-off unassisted triple play
   11. Walt Davis Posted: July 11, 2022 at 11:17 PM (#6086329)
Oh cool, we now have some stats for Luis Tiant Sr (spotty, 10 seasons over 18 years)

LTSr: 568 IP, 37-28, 126 ERA+, 6.6 k/9, 3.4 bb/9, about a 4.7 WAR/season pace
LTJr: 3486 IP, 229-172, 114 ERA+, 6.2 k/9, 2.8 bb/9, 4.2 WAR/season

Multiply dad by 6 and you get 3,408 IP, 222-168 ... are we sure Luis Jr wasn't just Luis Sr pitching in his 60s and 70s with his right arm since his left one was worn out?

   12. Bret Sabermatrician Posted: July 12, 2022 at 08:08 AM (#6086339)

7. PeteF3 Posted: July 11, 2022 at 09:30 PM (#6086301)
Walk-off catcher touched the ball with his mask?


Yes.


Lasorda and Leyland, that game had a lot of old man energy.
   13. Jose is Absurdly Correct but not Helpful Posted: July 12, 2022 at 10:24 AM (#6086346)
Watched that a few times and can't see anything that could be a balk. Geez, I love to see the Rays lose but what the heck?


Good analysis from former MLB pitcher and now Red analyst Chris Welsh;


Chris Welsh
@thinkpitch
I watched this

game ending balk. It appears that Wisler moved his glove to encourage the catcher to go through the signs again, but this movement also indicates the start of his motion to the stretch position. If he stops at that point, it is a balk. Game over


So basically in the umpire's opinion Wisler's move was first to come set then he decided to give the "go through the signs again." I'll be honest, the first time I saw it my immediate thought was "yup, there it is." In retrospect I don't think it's quite so cut and dried but I don't think it's necessarily a bad call either. If you watch it again it's an awkward move by Wisler. It's not as smooth as either coming set or asking to go through the signs again usually looks so I still think the ump got it right.
   14. Jose is Absurdly Correct but not Helpful Posted: July 12, 2022 at 10:34 AM (#6086348)
So what about other stuff? Has there been a walk-off catcher's interference? We had the 4th out thing the other day, was that a walk-off? Walk-off double (triple?) steal? Walk-off runner scores from 2nd on sac fly? Walk-off catcher touched the ball with his mask?


When he was in the minors Jackie Bradley lost a game for the Pawtucket Red Sox (RIP) when he was batting with two on and two out in a one run game. The pitch was in the dirt and blocked by the catcher. It rolled near JBJ's foot and he amiably kicked it to the catcher to pick up. This was correctly ruled interference (he intentionally touched a live ball) and was ruled out ending the game.
   15. sotapop Posted: July 12, 2022 at 11:21 AM (#6086354)
With that weird "fourth out" play a week ago, the umpire said in a post-game interview that it came down to his judgment as to whether the third basemen was "intentional" in stepping on third to put out the runner who left the base. It'd be nice if umpires exercised judgment on balks the same way-- was the pitcher intentionally trying to deceive the runner? Did any runner change their action based on the pitcher's movement? If not, then let it go. Let them exercise judgement in those cases, too.

We all get pretty annoyed when basketball refs call some ticky-tack foul in the last minute that decides the outcome, instead of letting the players play it out. Same deal. Even worse, actually.
   16. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: July 12, 2022 at 01:03 PM (#6086357)
With that weird "fourth out" play a week ago, the umpire said in a post-game interview that it came down to his judgment as to whether the third basemen was "intentional" in stepping on third to put out the runner who left the base. It'd be nice if umpires exercised judgment on balks the same way-- was the pitcher intentionally trying to deceive the runner? Did any runner change their action based on the pitcher's movement? If not, then let it go. Let them exercise judgement in those cases, too.

We all get pretty annoyed when basketball refs call some ticky-tack foul in the last minute that decides the outcome, instead of letting the players play it out. Same deal. Even worse, actually.


Well, the fourth out rule, and any appeal really requires the umpire to judge the player's intent. It's written into the rule. The balk rule has no such requirement. It is a no fault rule. For an umpire to judge the player's intent would be making up a rule. That isn't to say that they can't exercise judgement as to whether the movement is innocuous enough to be ignored, but they should not be judging a player's intent unless that is allowed or required by rule.
   17. Cris E Posted: July 12, 2022 at 01:04 PM (#6086359)
Agree with leaving room for judgement. The whole Gotcha aspect of balks seems out of step with area double plays, the strikezone, the batters' box lines and a host of other things that aren't called by the book. I could see calling things tighter with guys on base, but I'm comfortable leaving them some leeway.
   18. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 12, 2022 at 01:21 PM (#6086361)
I'm not the first to say this, but it really does seem as if the balk rule is designed not so much to keep pitchers from deceiving baserunners as it is to assess how well pitchers are able to understand and adhere to the details of the balk rule.
   19. sotapop Posted: July 12, 2022 at 01:32 PM (#6086362)
Well, I just dove into the official rules, and Misirlou, you're right, the rule as written doesn't mention judgment. My concept of the rule comes from how it's phrased in the glossary at MLB.com:

"A balk occurs when a pitcher makes an illegal motion on the mound that the umpire deems to be deceitful to the runner(s)."


Note the "umpire deems" part. But when you dive into rule 8.05 it says:

8.05 If there is a runner, or runners, it is a balk when—
(a) The pitcher, while touching his plate, makes any motion naturally associated with
his pitch and fails to make such delivery.


And that says nothing specific about judgment. But... it seems like it takes some umpire judgment to say what's "naturally associated with his pitch." In this case, it seems like the umpire could say that a small rotation of the glove while the arm is down and almost stationary isn't associated with his typical pitch.
   20. Jose is Absurdly Correct but not Helpful Posted: July 12, 2022 at 01:47 PM (#6086363)
I'm not the first to say this, but it really does seem as if the balk rule is designed not so much to keep pitchers from deceiving baserunners as it is to assess how well pitchers are able to understand and adhere to the details of the balk rule.


The thing is for all the joking that goes on (not just in this tread) about the balk rule it's clearly not that difficult to follow as balks are very rare. There have been 1298 games this year and only 65 balks. It's not like pitchers are struggling to follow the balk rule. Balks are being called about once every 20 games.

Having said that I have no problem with the idea of implementing some intent into the rule though I suspect that would cause even more confusion.
   21. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 12, 2022 at 03:41 PM (#6086380)
"A balk occurs when a pitcher makes an illegal motion on the mound that the umpire deems to be deceitful to the runner(s)."

Clearly the umpire is being asked to make a judgment. But the umpire is not being asked to judge the pitcher's intent, because the pitcher's intent is irrelevant.

As a contrast, the "4th out" situation requires the fielder to make an appeal, and the rulebook says that the fielder needs to be intentional about making an appeal (if he just steps on the base for some other purpose, no appeal has been made). So in that case, the umpire explicitly does need to judge the fielder's intent.

I think that's the key distinction.
   22. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: July 12, 2022 at 03:53 PM (#6086385)
I wish I'd said that.
   23. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 12, 2022 at 04:55 PM (#6086390)

Yeah, I guess you basically said the same thing in #16. Coke to you, then.
   24. sotapop Posted: July 12, 2022 at 05:08 PM (#6086392)
Dave, I see your point, I think-- the umpire is instructed to make a call based on an action that breaks from the rules on throwing a pitch, because that action is by definition deceitful, whether the pitcher intended it to be so or not. Maybe?

But (of course)... two things. One is that the entire rule exists because of pitcher intent, that they were trying to con runners. See 8.01:

The pitcher, following his stretch, must (a) hold the ball in both hands in front of his
body and (b) come to a complete stop. This must be enforced. Umpires should
watch this closely. Pitchers are constantly attempting to “beat the rule” in their
efforts to hold runners on bases
and in cases where the pitcher fails to make a
complete “stop” called for in the rules, the umpire should immediately call a “Balk.”


And again as 8.05 says, the umpire is assessing whether a motion is "naturally associated with his pitch." Not just that the pitcher makes any motion at all, but a motion that would be part of throwing a pitch.

Admission: I'm a Rays fan. Losing a game that way sucks. So I'm biased. But I'm sure all of us have seen a balk called and thought, "What? where?" It seems like a rule that is well-intended and valuable in some cases but is way over-enforced. Like some policing, but that's for another thread. I'll stop now.
   25. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 12, 2022 at 06:31 PM (#6086402)
First off, I find the MLB.com glossary description to be more confusing than elucidating.

"A balk occurs when a pitcher makes an illegal motion on the mound that the umpire deems to be deceitful to the runner(s)."

Pitchers are pretty much by definition trying to deceive the runners, so being deceitful can't be the determining factor there. So it's the "illegal motion" part that makes a balk a balk.

Ultimately, the umpires go by the rulebook, not MLB.com, so that's what I was basing my comments on.

The pitcher, while touching his plate, makes any motion naturally associated with his pitch and fails to make such delivery.

That's what's in the written rule, that's the "illegal motion" part. And there's nothing about intent there.
   26. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: July 12, 2022 at 07:39 PM (#6086416)
It seems like a rule that is well-intended and valuable in some cases but is way over-enforced.


Jose in post 20:

The thing is for all the joking that goes on (not just in this tread) about the balk rule it's clearly not that difficult to follow as balks are very rare. There have been 1298 games this year and only 65 balks. It's not like pitchers are struggling to follow the balk rule. Balks are being called about once every 20 games.


If that is over enforcing, it is nearly impossible to be under enforced.
   27. John DiFool2 Posted: July 12, 2022 at 08:52 PM (#6086425)
Anyone recall that season c, 30 years ago where they were constantly calling balks very strictly? If they thought there was no pause they waved the runners on.
   28. Ron J Posted: July 12, 2022 at 09:59 PM (#6086430)
#27 Yes. It was awful.
   29. TDF, trained monkey Posted: July 13, 2022 at 08:58 AM (#6086478)
Anyone recall that season c, 30 years ago where they were constantly calling balks very strictly? If they thought there was no pause they waved the runners on.
1988 - 924 balks.

It's interesting that balks are being called pretty consistently now (starting in 2000):
161
151
160
158
157
161
145
139
153
138
182
169
165
128
128
141
148
155
151
153
63 (pandemic year, pro-rates to 170)
155
66 (pro-rates to 122)

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