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Old Sun May 06, 2007, 11:21am
mj mj is offline
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Legal pickoff?

This is hard to describe in words but I'll try anyway. In a game yesterday we had a right-handed pitcher attempt a pick off at first by lifting his non-pivot foot about 4-5 inches. He then points his toes toward the ground, and spins and pivots toward first.

Coach did warn us prior to the game that he teaches this move and has been told by rules interpreters it is legal.
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Old Sun May 06, 2007, 11:26am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mj
This is hard to describe in words but I'll try anyway. In a game yesterday we had a right-handed pitcher attempt a pick off at first by lifting his non-pivot foot about 4-5 inches. He then points his toes toward the ground, and spins and pivots toward first.

Coach did warn us prior to the game that he teaches this move and has been told by rules interpreters it is legal.

It's difficult to say, but it sounds like he's bringing his knee up to a balance point which requires him to deliver the ball to the batter.



Tim.
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Old Sun May 06, 2007, 11:57am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mj
This is hard to describe in words but I'll try anyway. In a game yesterday we had a right-handed pitcher attempt a pick off at first by lifting his non-pivot foot about 4-5 inches. He then points his toes toward the ground, and spins and pivots toward first.
Sounds like a balk.

Quote:
Coach did warn us prior to the game that he teaches this move and has been told by rules interpreters it is legal.
Sounds like something a Rat would say. And, if it convinced you not to call the balk, it had the desired effect.
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Last edited by GarthB; Sun May 06, 2007 at 12:03pm.
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Old Sun May 06, 2007, 12:08pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mj
This is hard to describe in words but I'll try anyway. In a game yesterday we had a right-handed pitcher attempt a pick off at first by lifting his non-pivot foot about 4-5 inches. He then points his toes toward the ground, and spins and pivots toward first.

Coach did warn us prior to the game that he teaches this move and has been told by rules interpreters it is legal.
Did F1 gain distance and direction toward first base , and could you consider what he did as "stepping to the base " ? If not, it sure sounds like a balk from here, because he certainly did not legally disengage the rubber.
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Old Sun May 06, 2007, 12:09pm
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What he was told by rules interpretors was "probably", from the stretch or set position F1 may step and throw to a base. This does not convert to "even after he's started his motion to pitch". Lifting the foot, then spinning towards 1st should get you balked everytime. I'll only call this a balk in the following scenarious, if I'm alone, or with somebody..
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Old Sun May 06, 2007, 12:28pm
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MJ, maybe it's me, but I have trouble picturing this move. Sounds like a ballet move to me!! Can you be more specific about what the F1 is doing on these "pointed toes"??

I once had a coach tell me at pre-game that he just watched the Jim Evans tape before the game, and that he now 'understood' the balk rule to help his pitchers. I called three simple balks and had to explain each one. Then I had to explain why the runner gets 2 bases on a pick off while off the rubber.

I suggested he review the tape again!!!
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Old Sun May 06, 2007, 02:18pm
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This may be what is sometimes referred to as a "slow move". It's where a right-hander makes his move to first by moving rather slowly, sometimes masking the pickoff move because it lacks the "snappiness" that the runner often keys on.

The move can be executed quite legally as long as the free foot makes continual (although slow) movement toward first. However, it does not involve lifting the leg straight up because that, invariably, causes the free foot to move toward 3rd - thus making the move a balk.

The "slow move" is often improperly called a balk by an unsuspecting umpire for no other reason than he doesn't recognize the move. In other words, the slow nature of the move looks unusual although there is no element of it that is illegal. If the pitcher did the exact same maneuver at a more rapid pace, it would look more normal and not be ruled a balk.

There's no rule that requires a right-hander to make a snappy move toward first. If he chooses to do it in slow motion - as long as his free foot immediately starts moving toward 1st - it should be legal.

As a pitching coach, I had taught my right-handers this move to include in their repertoire of moves but eventually had to abandon it since too many umpires were calling it a balk. The level of umpiring was too low to even argue the point. Oddly, the most common explanation from the umpires was, "Your pitcher didn't break contact with the rubber prior to making the move."

That is an element of the "slow move" - but it's not illegal. The pitcher keeps contact with the rubber while his free foot starts its movement toward 1st. Contact with the rubber is eventually broken, but it happens very late in the move. This move catches those runners who key on rapid movements by the pitcher, or, key on the pitcher's right foot. There is a misconception out there that a right-hander will always lift his right foot as a prelude to a pickoff attempt. That is generally true with rapid moves - because the pitcher will tear his ankle up. But with a much slower move - he can safely remove his pivot foot from the hole in front of the rubber AFTER he has mostly completed his step with his free foot.

David Emerling
Memphis, TN
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Old Sun May 06, 2007, 03:44pm
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MJ, as I re-read your post, this is legal as far as described. I assume he threw to first?

This is analgous to the lefty freeze move, and that is legal as long as the move is continuous without pause.
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Old Sun May 06, 2007, 07:42pm
mj mj is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RPatrino
MJ, as I re-read your post, this is legal as far as described. I assume he threw to first?

This is analgous to the lefty freeze move, and that is legal as long as the move is continuous without pause.
It is very similar to how a lefty would freeze but when his leg is in the he then pulls the leg backwards and spins and throws to first.
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Old Sun May 06, 2007, 08:40pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mj
It is very similar to how a lefty would freeze but when his leg is in the he then pulls the leg backwards and spins and throws to first.

If the pitcher lifts his foot in any manner similar to his delivery to home, it is a balk. Although a RHP may step and throw to first, it is difficult to do legally. Most pro camps and clinics instruct that the RHP pitcher needs to make a continuous "glide step" to first with no hesitation and no leg lift to throw without balking.

That is why, if you watch major league games, most RHPs either step off or utilize the jump turn or jab step. LL level coaches seem to prefer to do things the hard way. Some even think if they do the move slowly, that makes a difference. It does not.

OBR 8.01 (b)...After assuming Set Position, any natural motion associated with his delivery of the ball to the batter commits him to the pitch without alteration or interruption.

OBR 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;
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Old Sun May 06, 2007, 08:44pm
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The lefty "freeze" move is a balk if its not done in one continuous movement. In your described sitch if this is not the case, then it is a balk.
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Old Sun May 06, 2007, 11:51pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GarthB
If the pitcher lifts his foot in any manner similar to his delivery to home, it is a balk. Although a RHP may step and throw to first, it is difficult to do legally. Most pro camps and clinics instruct that the RHP pitcher needs to make a continuous "glide step" to first with no hesitation and no leg lift to throw without balking.

That is why, if you watch major league games, most RHPs either step off or utilize the jump turn or jab step. LL level coaches seem to prefer to do things the hard way. Some even think if they do the move slowly, that makes a difference. It does not.

OBR 8.01 (b)...After assuming Set Position, any natural motion associated with his delivery of the ball to the batter commits him to the pitch without alteration or interruption.

OBR 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;
Disengaging the rubber prior to throwing to first is almost never done - particularly at the MLB level. There is no point in doing so. All it does is serve advance notice to the runner of an impending pickoff attempt. Why make the pickoff a two-step maneuver when it can be a single maneuver?

On occasion, you will see the "slow move" by a MLB pitcher. Randy Johnson uses it almost exclusively - although, in general, he rarely attempts pickoffs. Some pitchers deliberately use a "slow move" to set runners up with a better (i.e. faster) move.

The speed of the move is not the deciding factor as to its legality (provided it is continuous). The key is that the free foot moves directly toward 1st. That can be done quickly or slowly.

David Emerling
Memphis, TN
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Old Mon May 07, 2007, 12:19am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Emerling
Disengaging the rubber prior to throwing to first is almost never done - particularly at the MLB level. There is no point in doing so. All it does is serve advance notice to the runner of an impending pickoff attempt. Why make the pickoff a two-step maneuver when it can be a single maneuver?

On occasion, you will see the "slow move" by a MLB pitcher. Randy Johnson uses it almost exclusively - although, in general, he rarely attempts pickoffs. Some pitchers deliberately use a "slow move" to set runners up with a better (i.e. faster) move.

The speed of the move is not the deciding factor as to its legality (provided it is continuous). The key is that the free foot moves directly toward 1st. That can be done quickly or slowly.

David Emerling
Memphis, TN
You're phunni...using lefty Randy Johnson to try to validate your mistaken opinoin on RHPs pick off moves to first.

Damn few MLB RHPs step and throw to first. Watch a few games. It's jump turns, jab steps and the occasional disengage. As occcasional as it is, it's still more prevelant for RHPs than stepping and throwing.

He!!, I've met major league pitchers and former major league pitchers who swore a RHP COULDN'T step and throw or it would be a balk. There's a former Minnesota pitching coach living in town who now coaches summer ball and who argues that point every year. Rats....gotta love'em.
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Last edited by GarthB; Mon May 07, 2007 at 12:28am.
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Old Mon May 07, 2007, 12:25am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GarthB
You're phunni...using lefty Randy Johnson to try to validate your mistaken opinoin on RHPs pick off moves to first.

Damn few MLB RHPs step and throw to first. Watch a few games. It's jump turns, jab steps and the occasional disengage. As occcasional as it is, it's still more prevelant for RHPs than stepping and throwing.
I realize that Randy Johnson is lefthanded - my point was that Randy Johnson makes no legitimate attempt to pickoff the runner. He employs no deception. He just tosses it over there with no sense of immediacy. There is nothing snappy about Randy Johnson's move.

There are right-handers who do this, also - although it is rare. Most right-hander moves are much quicker than left-handers.

Basically, right-handers rely on quickness whereas left-handers rely on deception. It's unusual to see a right-hander make a slow move toward first.

Randy Johnson makes a slow move with no deception and no sense of immediacy. That was my only point.

David Emerling
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Old Mon May 07, 2007, 12:34am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GarthB
Damn few MLB RHPs step and throw to first. Watch a few games. It's jump turns, jab steps and the occasional disengage. As occcasional as it is, it's still more prevelant for RHPs than stepping and throwing.
Breaking contact with the rubber while making a jump move (or jab step) is NOT considered disengaging the rubber. If the pitcher throws the ball out-of-play while making such a move the base award is ONE because the throw is considered to have been made while in contact with the rubber - even though the pitcher is NOT in contact with the rubber.

On the other hand, if he first disengages the rubber (by stepping back) and THEN throws the ball out-of-play the base award is TWO.

I maintain, you will almost NEVER see a professional pitcher disengage (i.e. stepping back) the rubber prior to throwing to first. I can't remember the last time I've seen it.

Left-handers will sometimes make a snap throw by first stepping back. They do this out of necessity because they do not step toward first with their free foot when making such a throw. That particular move is also fairly rare.

David Emerling
Memphis, TN
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