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Old Mon May 06, 2002, 04:54pm
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Join Date: May 2002
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My son plays Pony Bronco Baseball. Pony Baseball uses the OBR with the exception of a few provisions outlined in the Pony Baseball Rules and Regulations.

I have a few questions regarding balks. One is simple, the other is more subtle:

1. Local coaches are teaching right-handed pitchers to step back off the rubber before throwing to first base on a pick-off move. They claim that they must first disengage from the rubber before making a pick-off, otherwise it is a balk. I think this coaching practice is wrong for the following reasons:

a. This is not required by the OBR. A pitcher is not required to disengage from the rubber when making a pitch-off move.
b. This move is slow, thus base runners can get a bigger lead.
c. If the throw goes out-of-play, the runner will be awarded 3rd rather than 2nd since the pitcher is considered and non-pitcher after stepping off the rubber.

Does anyone disagree or have anything to add to the above points?

2. In the stretch, can a right-handed pitcher raise his free leg (left leg) like he would normally do while delivering a pitch to home (knee bent, etc.), then in a continuous motion extend his free leg and step directly to first to make a pitch-off throw. According to 8.05(a) it is a balk if the pitcher swings his free foot past the back edge of the rubber and does not deliver the pitch. But what if his free foot remains in front during the move I describe? I suppose one always say that is an attempt by the pitcher to deceive the runner, but this rationale could be said about a similarly deceptive move by a left-hander that raises his leg (presumably to go home) and then steps and throws to first for a pick-off.

Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old Mon May 06, 2002, 05:51pm
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Join Date: Apr 2001
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Point 1 . Your are absolutly correct.

Point 2 . OBR 8.01 c. "At any time during the pitchers preliminary movements and until his natural pitching motion commits him to the pitch, he may throw to any base provided he steps" (This is the key word) "DIRECTLY toward such base before making the throw".

I one time had my own son try this move. He only tried it once and after the game the President of out Umpiring Association explained this to me. Technically there are probably those that will say he did'nt step because he did'nt place his foot down, but then we definely have deception.

This was how it was explained to me.
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Old Mon May 06, 2002, 09:32pm
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1) You are correct, but I'd add that some umpires incorrectly think that RH F1 must step off or use the jab step or use the jump turn. Thus, they will (incorrectly) call a balk.

2) It's a balk. If the movement isn't immediately toward the base not being faced (i.e., first for a RH pitcher), the pitcher can't legally throw or feint there.
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