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Old Wed Jan 10, 2001, 03:20pm
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In another thread I posted a situation that happened to me. At the time I had a different reason for posting the scenario, but now I want to examine it more thoroughly.

Here's the situation:

"The pitcher was in the stretch position. He received his signs. The third base coach was yelling at his batter, "Jason, step out and get your signs. Jason! Step out!"

Well, Jason stepped out with one foot and begun taking his signs. The pitcher did not disengage from the rubber. Instead, he stood up and relaxed. He reached in his glove with his pitching hand to toy with the ball, and then reached up to adjust his glasses. Yep, this pitcher's hands came together and then parted.

"Balk!" called the lone voice from my partner. I left my mask on hoping that no one could see my face.
"


The above situation received the following response from Dave Hensley:

"I think there is black letter law to govern this situation, it's 6.02(b) CMT, which says:

> If after the pitcher starts his windup or comes to a "set position"
> with a runner on, he does not go through with his pitch because the
> batter has stepped out of the box, it shall not be called a balk. Both
> the pitcher and batter have violated a rule and the umpire shall call
> time and both the batter and pitcher start over from "scratch."

You had all the ingredients - pitcher has come set, batter steps out, pitcher does not go through with pitch because the batter stepped out - call time and do it over. No balk call.

So, your partner wasn't "technically right" and just making a rules-nazi type call, as you suggest. He was, in fact, technically and substantively wrong.



I don't think I could disagree more with Mr. Hensley's assessment of the situation. OBR 6.02(b) does not apply to my situation whatsoever.

To begin with, the pitcher in my scenario never took the, "set position." He remained in the stretch.

My pitcher never began his motion to pitch, and therefore could not fail, "to go through with his pitch."

The illegal act of stepping out by the batter was not the cause of the pitcher's balk.


To believe Mr. Hensley's ruling in this situation would require us to believe that any balk committed after a batter has stepped out of the box should be ignored.

It seems to me that in order for a do over to be called for under 6.02(b) the pitcher must have either begun his motion to deliver, or at least been in the set position. And then the batter's illegal act of stepping out must have caused the pitcher to fail to complete his delivery to the plate.

So the question remains: Can a pitcher balk after the batter has stepped out of the box?

The answer: Yes!

Some may argue that the plate umpire should call, "Time," when the batter steps out of the box. That would prevent any possible balk from being called after the batter has stepped out. I'm not sure I agree. It's a great idea to call time when a pitcher is completely unaware that a batter has stepped out, but in my situation, the pitcher knew exactly what the batter did, and it was obvious.

I argue that the batter in my scenario did not even step out illegally. The pitcher had not come to the set position or started his wind-up. Since the pitcher was in the stretch, this afforded the batter a reasonable delay in the game action, and stepping out was legal.

In conclusion, it is sometimes simply the right thing to do under some circumstances to ignore an infraction based on what's happening in the game at the time. In the above situation, even though time was not called, even though the batter stepped out, even though 6.02(b) does not apply, it is the right call to ignore the very technical violation by the pitcher. Everyone understood what was happening, game action was relaxed, the pitcher made no attempt to pick-off runners, and runners made no attempt to advance.

So, what do you think?
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Old Wed Jan 10, 2001, 04:43pm
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Some may argue that the plate umpire should call, "Time," when the batter steps out of the box.

Jim I do not agree with you often as you know (Big G), but I'm with you on this particualr subject matter.

In Youth ball I would advocate calling Time - This kills the play and in effect it serves the same purpose of the do-over. Calling Time will eliminate all of the various problems than could occur. After calling Time I would instruct the batter to check with me in future before he steps out of the box again.

If the pitcher was already in his wind-up and batter steps out - Too bad on the batter - Whatever the pitch is it is.

As I stated in my original thread, instead of "Pure Vanilla" rules governing Balks, an umpire should be able to use his /her judgement in calling a Mechanical Balk.

I trust that the individuals who posted initially have vast experience and know when F1 is trying to pull a fast one or not. I say use that experience to make the game better and not just the "Pure Vanilla" wording of the Rule, especially in Amateur Ball.

In your example at least the way you wrote it, it is clearly evident that F1 was not trying to pull a fast one, hence call nothing.

The bottom line to all these mechanical balks IMO is really simple - Is F1 trying to pull a fast one? - If the answer to that is yes then Of Coarse Balk Him. However, if it is clearly evident as in Jim's example and the one that started this whole thing to begin with, then ignore.

As you can see, there are different opinions on this matter.
My suggestion to resolve is: Bring this up at your next HS association meeting and see what they rule. Whatever is accepted practice at your association is the way one should rule as ultimately this will decide your rating.

Pete Booth
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Old Wed Jan 10, 2001, 06:06pm
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Wink Just an editorial comment

Pete:

The balk described by Jim is covered by OBR 8.05(j) and is listed in the Official Rules of Baseball: Annotated, and by other historians, authorities and writers as a deceptive balk, not a mechanincal balk.

8.05 (j)
The pitcher, after coming to a legal pitching position, removes one hand from the ball other than in an actual pitch, or in throwing to a base;


This is one of the “newer” balks, added in 1920. Once the pitcher brings his hands together in front of him (in either wind-up or set position), he is not allowed to take a hand off the ball except in his release when pitching, or throwing to a base. This does not prevent him from adjusting the ball in his glove and then taking his hand off the ball. That is ruled a prepatory movement.

Evans lists as "deceptive balks" 8.05 (g)(i)(j)(k)(m). The list of deceptive balks is pretty much universally accepted.

The debate in categorizing balks has been more in the areas of mechanic balks and penal balks.

Mechanical: The pitcher simply isn’t proceeding in his mechanics as section 8.01 would have him.

Penal: Certain actions by a pitcher, so says the rules committee, are just plain illegal and the appropriate penalty, therefore, is a balk.

Again, there is some debate into which category the remaining balks fall, however one common list is:

Mechanic balks: 8.05 (c)(e)(f)
Penal Balks: 8.05(b)(d)(h)(l)

The balk has been with us for a very long time. The Original Major League Code of 1876 stated, in part:

Rule IV. Pitching
Section 5. Should the pitcher make any motion to deliver the ball to the bat and fail so to deliver it - except the ball be accidentally dropped. The umpire shall call a “balk,” and players occupying the bases shall take one base each.


While on the surface it might appear that the rule pertained to the batter/pitcher relationship, it was actually an early effort to prevent the defense from taking an undue advantage of the baserunners. Baseball has always been slightly tilted to the offense, and if there were no rule regarding pitchers’ mechanics and practices, the baserunners would be severely hampered in their ability and opportunity to lead off, steal bases and, ultimately, score runs. The powers that be of baseball have always kknow that running, stealing and scoring are far more exciting to the fans than pick-offs.


Thus the balk came into being to prevent the defense from "illegally" deceiving the runner(s) and to prevent the "stifling" of offense.

In practice, the history and intent of the rule is usually taken into consideration at the higher amateur levels (NCAA). The result is the Adavantage/Disadvantage conisderation given to some balk "situations".

Example:

: A pitcher, with the ball in his possession will often move around trying to get comfortable with the rubber prior to taking his signals. In the process he may engage and disengage the rubber several times as he seeks the right “fit.” Technically, this could be called a balk. But what advantage has he gained? He hasn’t checked in for his sign yet and this “nesting” motion is fooling no one. To the seasoned umpire, no advantage, no stifling, no balk.

Jon Bible, former NCAA Coordinator of Umpires agreeing with the “advantage/disadvantage” theory has said:

“The balk rule, in my view, is perhaps the most misunderstood and misapplied rules... In implementing the balk rule one must keep in mind that there may be a variety of things that a pitcher does that technically may constitute a balk but that should never be called because they put no one at an unfair disadvantage.”

This theory, obviously, is a hot button with some. But the reality is, this is the way the balk is called at higher levels by experienced and succesful umpires.

On another board someone suggested that this practice is designed to keep younger umpires out of the upper hierarchy. Nonsense. The requirments of such a conspiracy on a national level are too numerous and cumbersome and would be impossible to be kept from the public. Instead, this is the result of years of practice by umpires who only reach these levels by succeeding in their craft AND by being students of the game and knowing not only the word of the rule but the heart and soul as well.


Garth
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Old Wed Jan 10, 2001, 07:22pm
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Response to Jim Mills

Jim,

First off, little kids have nothing to do with this discussion. I don't know why you'd make such a disclaimer. Youth leagues have 16-18 year-old divisions, you know. And this discussion is just as valid for adult amateur leagues as well.

You said, Before the set, I almost always make that call of "Time!"

You do? Really? In that moment when the batter steps out, you can see that the pitcher is paying attention, the runners are all idle, and then you call, "Time"? You do this despite the fact that top instructors all over the planet recommend we call time as little as possible, and never when it's not absolutely necessary?

You also said, "I would be hard-pressed to think, in this instance, that the pitcher's balk was caused by anything other than the batter stepping out, but timing of the infraction is important. I have never seen a pitcher do that when the batter stays in the box, so my judgment is that there is some cause and effect at work here."

Sure there's cause and effect. The pitcher, "relaxed" when he saw that the batter left the box. This is not out of the ordinary. It even happens in MLB.

You also said, "I think your evaluation of the Hensley position is incorrect. F1 comes set..."

Already you've gone down another road, Jim. The pitcher in my situation never came set. He remained in the preliminary motion throughout.

My situation was not a case where the pitcher came set, began his delivery, and then aborted after seeing the batter step out. That's what 6.02(b) addresses. In my situation, the pitcher was quite aware that the batter stepped out when he relaxed, and then he balked. The balk was not caused by the batter's step-out.

But that's beside the point because the step-out was not considered illegal, according to 6.02(b). The pitcher had neither begun his wind-up, nor was he in the "set position". Both are requirements as listed under 6.02(b) for a batter to be considered as having illegally stepped out for purposes of that rule.

You guys want to apply a rule that is, by its own definition, inapplicable. I can see how this is easier for you than doing it the right way. It enables you not to call the balk, it enables you to keep your viewpoint that very technical violations always need to be called, and it allows you to continue this debate while retaining your position.

Jon Bible's quote in Garth's post contains the most valuable information regarding the calling of balks. It is what I was taught, it is what is right, and it is what we've been discussing for a month now.

"The balk rule, in my view, is perhaps the most misunderstood and misapplied rules... In implementing the balk rule one must keep in mind that there may be a variety of things that a pitcher does that technically may constitute a balk but that should never be called because they put no one at an unfair disadvantage"

Above is how MLB umpires call it, it's how NCAA umpires call it, and it's how we all should call it.

I prefer truth and reality over justifications and rule manipulations anytime, don't you?
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Old Wed Jan 10, 2001, 07:28pm
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Hensley
I apparently misread Jim Porter's situation and thought the pitcher was set when the batter stepped out. Nevertheless, I still believe the no-call is the proper call, and I continue to cite 6.02(b)CMT as the applicable justification, because the pitcher clearly failed to go from his stretch to set position because the batter stepped out. Although the letter of every condition of 6.02(b)CMT was not met, certainly the spirit and intent of the CMT is applicable, and therefore the "do-over" instruction in 6.02(b)CMT is the appropriate remedy.

Jim Porter said:

> To believe Mr. Hensley's ruling in this situation would
> require us to believe that any balk committed after a
> batter has stepped out of the box should be ignored.

I disagree; my interpretation does not logically extend to any balk committed by a pitcher after a batter has stepped out; as Jim Mills pointed out, a pitcher balking on a feint or throw to a base is still a balk, as long as the ball is alive, and regardless of where the batter is.

The crux of the 6.02(b)CMT is that the batter's stepping out is the proximate cause of the pitcher's balk. If the balk is not precipitated by the batter's action, the CMT is not applicable.

Dave,

I was formulating my response to Jim Mills when you posted.

You say that the spirit and intent of 6.02(b) was met in my situation.

I submit that 6.02(b) was not applicable even in spirit and intent because the batter did not step out of the box while the pitcher was either in set position or after the pitcher had begun his wind-up. This batter did not step out illegally under 6.02(b). The pitcher was in his preliminary motion, not set position.

Basically, folks, you've two choices: Call the balk, ignore the balk. (Sound familiar?)

Whaddyasay?
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Old Wed Jan 10, 2001, 07:40pm
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Now let's just make sure I've got this situation straight:

-- Pitcher is in stretch but has not come set
-- Batter steps out and does not call time
-- Pitcher "toys" with the ball, and then breaks his hands apart, this the balk call under 8.05(j)

So are we to assume the pitcher technically came set while the batter was out of the box? Why couldn't his "toying" be judged as "momentarily adjusting" the ball, which is allowed? Why would a pitcher even want to come set without a batter?

But looking at the big picture, Jim, I do get your point. Just because the batter steps out, doesn't mean that 1)the ball becomes dead, or 2)the pitcher is immune from balking.
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Old Wed Jan 10, 2001, 08:06pm
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If the batter does anything that in my judgement causes the pitcher to balk, I have some decisions to make. If the batter was doing it deliberately, trying to create the balk, I will call "Time!". Then I will proceed with a "do over". If, in my judgement, the batter was doing this as an unsportsmanlike act, I may eject him as well. If he was not doing the act deliberately, I may still call "Time" and proceed with a do over. OR... I have to remember the pitcher has the option to still pitch the ball if he does not balk, so I would not automatically call "Time" UNLESS the pitcher does balk. It is usually to the pitcher's advantage to pitch the ball if the batter steps out (check on the various code's penalties for the batter stepping out).

Lots of possibilities...
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Old Wed Jan 10, 2001, 10:04pm
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Am I the only one here to have played the game? Am I the only one here to have ever tried to make a pitcher balk by stepping out of box or just staying in box and looking like I have given up? Am I the only one here to have been successful in baiting the ump into calling a balk? Am I the only one here to say, "I have NEVER seen a batter ejected for leaving the box when he shouldn't have?"

Multiple choice answers: Choose 1 only
a) no
b) no
c) no
d) ALL OF THE ABOVE

I played it, I tried it, I succeeded in it, I have never called it. I also suspect most are the same, perhaps not.

It is difficult to call on the batter because YOU ARE DECLARING INTENT IF YOU EJECT and it is very easy to deny intent in this situation. Consequently, that is why do over arises vs. the ejection. Now knowing I did all this, any doubt in my mind goes to pitcher. If there is any doubt whatsoever his balk, should one occur, could have been in the least way prompted by the batter's action, it is a do over, not a balk. However, any obvious balk on a motion to a base will likely be rung.

Just my opinion,
Bfair (oh, BTW, I didn't use that name when I played)
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Old Thu Jan 11, 2001, 10:24am
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No, I never ejected anyone for this infraction either. I believe my post said something about "a whole list of POSSIBILITIES", which is what I was hitting on. It is not always a balk, nor is it always a do over.

dfn (done for now)
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Old Thu Jan 11, 2001, 11:31am
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Opposites Attract??? ->Ain't no balk (call)

I "speed read" all the posts... yadda yadda yadda. It is not that complicated. I would NEVER call this a balk.

1. I like to pick nits as much as the next guy. Boys, this is a NIT. Batter steps out (1 foot, 2 feet who cares) is looking AT 3rd base coach. How the heck can anyone argue that this does not affect the mechanics of the pitcher? The balk argument is way too technical... why not keep that coach in the coaches box too??

2. But, too me, THE MOST IMPORTANT point is the common sense point, and why I love 6.02b. In kid baseball (18 and down)... who wants to see hardballs in kids faces?? I do NOT want pitchers THROWING fastballs at INATTENTIVE batters, period. I am NOT going to penalize a pitcher who has the OPTION to throw to a batter not looking, who DOESN'T Pitch! If the batters action causes the pitcher to absent mindedly play with the baseball, so be it.. NO BALK.

Oh, and if this pitcher stepped off with the wrong foot, that AIN'T a balk either (in this case).

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Old Thu Jan 11, 2001, 12:21pm
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Why managers turn gray - the umpires can't decide how to apply the rules so our "no call" in one game gets us tossed in another game.

This is really confusing.

8.01 says there are two "legal" pitching positions, windup and set

8.05(j), the break hands and not pitch rule, says ". .after coming to a legal pitching position. ." As our pitcher had NOT yet come set he had not yet come to a legal pitching position so how could you apply 8.05(j)? If the "not come set" applies to 6.02(b) then shouldn't it apply here?

On top of that, 8.05(e) - (Quick Pitch) says it's a balk if the pitcher delivers while the batter is not reasonably set in the batters box. With the batter half out of the box, looking at his coach, he sure isn't "reasonably set" so F1 would seem to have no choice but to stop. Or did the batter preclude this by getting in the box then leaving? If so, what rule/interpretation applies?

But, there is also a requirement to come set in a continuous motion so is poor F1 now stuck with having to do the "come set in a continuous motion" thing then step off properly? Seems like a REALLY unreasonable expectation on the surface because everyone on offense has probably stopped to check the coach's signs.

ROCK - F1 - HARD PLACE
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Old Thu Jan 11, 2001, 01:11pm
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Unhappy My Apology

Rich and others:

When I wrote my feelings on this and 8.05(j) I failed to note that Jim had said the pitcher had not come set. My fault. I'm sorry for any confusion. That being the case, 8.05(j) does not apply.

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Old Thu Jan 11, 2001, 02:55pm
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Jim Mills said, "Were I 100% consistent, and correct all the time, I would be, apparently, Jim Porter and not Jim Mills."

Now you can see why I have avoided back and forth exchanges on these message boards. I have made no direct shots at anyone in this, or any thread. I have a differing opinion, so I'm insulted for it.

I'll be back to single, article-length postings from now on. That's the end of the back and forth bantering for me. I've stayed away from the arguments and flaming for months and months now. I've been careful not to use any poster's name in any direct shots. I'm not going to enter into an insult exchange. I've given you my opinion, you are free to take it or leave it.

If what Jim Mills said is, "disagreeing without being disagreeable," you can have it all to yourselves.

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Old Thu Jan 11, 2001, 03:56pm
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Dave and Jim,

Here's the part you don't seem to understand:

"I think you're wrong and I'm right."

That's a disagreement.


"A balk is a judgment call."

That's a discussion.


"I think I'm right because I believe you are using justifications and rule manipulations."

That's a debate.


"If I were perfect my name would be Jim Porter and not Jim Mills."

That's an insult.

Any questions?
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Old Fri Jan 12, 2001, 03:21am
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Wink

Jim Mills...

Before I checked authorship, I thought that your post above was the return of WW. I, for one, miss ya on these bds, Warren, you thin skinned Aussie bloke! e-mail me!
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