Jump to content
  • 0
Guest BalksAreTheDevil

Help with Balks

Question

Guest BalksAreTheDevil

I have read over the NFHS Baseball Rule book and MLB rules and can't find anything to explain the situation I saw. I'm a parent of an 8th grader playing for their middle school. I'm not entirely certain of the rule set they use so please excuse that omission. 

The situation was the pitcher on my sons team (to be honest I don't know that he had ever pitched before) is right handed and would hold the ball in his glove as he leaned over and looked in for the signs. His hand on his throwing arm was dangling loose and while taking his signs from the catcher he would motion his hand in a circle like hurry or different pitch etc. 

Is this a balk? A fan from the other team got threw out by the administrator because they kept yelling at the umpire so much to call it and continually screaming that it was a balk. Neither the home plate or base umpire ever called one. Who was correct? 

Any input is appreciated!! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

20 answers to this question

Recommended Posts

  • 0

This could technically be a balk under HS rules.

 

How strictly it's enforced varies by area -- and as described I would try very hard not to balk it.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Register or Sign In to remove these ads
  • 0

I think the hyperbolic fan is misinterpreting what is known as the 'gorilla arm' move. Some pitchers tried to fool the runner by swinging their arm like that and then snapping off a quick pickoff throw. A few years ago, the swinging arm or 'gorilla arm' move was made a balk.

But if the ball is in his glove, how's he going to throw it? If it's in his glove and the swinging isn't regular and wild, no way would I consider the occasional signal back to the catcher as a gorilla arm balk.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

This is a rather technical balk for failing to come set "without interruption and in one continuous motion." I'd try address it at the varsity level by sending F2 out to tell him not to do that, unless it were egregious and F1 left me no choice.

The "gorilla arm" is the same kind of balk, but not its own category: the fact that this signal doesn't look like "gorilla arm" does not entail that signaling is legal.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
49 minutes ago, maven said:

This is a rather technical balk for failing to come set "without interruption and in one continuous motion." I'd try address it at the varsity level by sending F2 out to tell him not to do that, unless it were egregious and F1 left me no choice.

The "gorilla arm" is the same kind of balk, but not its own category: the fact that this signal doesn't look like "gorilla arm" does not entail that signaling is legal.

A FED caseplay would allow motion to shake off a sign if you did not deem it the start of coming set.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
2 hours ago, maven said:

This is a rather technical balk for failing to come set "without interruption and in one continuous motion." I'd try address it at the varsity level by sending F2 out to tell him not to do that, unless it were egregious and F1 left me no choice.

The "gorilla arm" is the same kind of balk, but not its own category: the fact that this signal doesn't look like "gorilla arm" does not entail that signaling is legal.

Agreed... It is a Balk and also agree with Maven's remedy at the Varsity level, mainly for one reason. When a runner is stealing on first movement, its the first movement after the pitcher comes set, not while he is taking signs. So as Maven stated it is somewhat of a technicality, usually not an attempt to deceive the runner. So asking his catcher to send him a message is very appropriate.

In the case in point of the 8th grader, I bet he has seen pitchers do exactly what he was doing with his free hand. What he didn't see is that they had stepped off of the pitchers plate and then stepped back on. As an umpire I would explain to his coach his balking mechanic and if that didn't correct it, start calling balks. Its not cruel and unusual punishment, it will be a lesson learned at an early age so when he gets to a level where it really counts, he wont be making the mistakes of his youth.

Please do not take this as I mean to start calling ALL balks at the youth level... Heavens No! We would be calling balks til' the cows come home. This one the Guest described is one that can be and should be easily corrected.      

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
4 hours ago, Donny7 said:

Agreed... It is a Balk and also agree with Maven's remedy at the Varsity level, mainly for one reason. When a runner is stealing on first movement, its the first movement after the pitcher comes set, not while he is taking signs. So as Maven stated it is somewhat of a technicality, usually not an attempt to deceive the runner. So asking his catcher to send him a message is very appropriate.

In the case in point of the 8th grader, I bet he has seen pitchers do exactly what he was doing with his free hand. What he didn't see is that they had stepped off of the pitchers plate and then stepped back on. As an umpire I would explain to his coach his balking mechanic and if that didn't correct it, start calling balks. Its not cruel and unusual punishment, it will be a lesson learned at an early age so when he gets to a level where it really counts, he wont be making the mistakes of his youth.

Please do not take this as I mean to start calling ALL balks at the youth level... Heavens No! We would be calling balks til' the cows come home. This one the Guest described is one that can be and should be easily corrected.      

Hand/glove movement other than a swinging arm while leaning in for the sign is not a balk unless it looks like the start of coming set:

6.1.2 SITUATION D: 

F1, while on the pitcher’s plate in either the windup or set position, (a) adjusts his cap or (b) shakes off the signal with his glove, or (c) shakes off the signal with his head. 

RULING: In (a) through (c), these are legal actions if these movements of the arms and legs are not associated with the pitch.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

This is a relevant discussion to follow, no matter your interpretation of what constitutes a Balk prior to the Pitchers movement to begin his windup or set position. Maybe we should go by the way of the MLB where just about anything will pass w/o being called a balk :o 

NOTE: The cited NFHS RULING is incorrect in that (a), (b), nor (c) has anything to do with LEGS. So we begin with what appears to be, at a minimum, a misstated Ruling. Putting that aside...

Our Guest that asked the question described it like this; "his throwing arm was dangling loose and while taking his signs from the catcher he would motion his hand in a circle". I will concede that this is one of those that you would need to see. How high did he elevate his arm, how small or large was the circle, etc, etc.? If the description had been he moved his index finger in a small circle, while keeping his arm straight down, we certainly couldn't accuse him of starting his motion to come set. Sorry BalksAreTheDevil. They can also be pretty subjective and a good Umpire will not over officiate.

What you read above was a Situation or an example to help clarify the rule. I'm not sure from what year it came. The 2017 NFHS Rule relevant to your question reads like this:

6-2-4d Balk. Failing to pitch to the batter in a continuous motion immediately after any movement of any part of the body such as he habitually uses in his delivery; 

If your 8th grader was elevating his pitching arm and moving it vigorously in a circle, it could have easily been called a balk.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

FWIW, my association is operating under the ordinance that the gorilla arm (throwing arm swinging/ball in pitching hand in front of body) is to be shut down immediately. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
9 hours ago, Donny7 said:

This is a relevant discussion to follow, no matter your interpretation of what constitutes a Balk prior to the Pitchers movement to begin his windup or set position. Maybe we should go by the way of the MLB where just about anything will pass w/o being called a balk :o 

NOTE: The cited NFHS RULING is incorrect in that (a), (b), nor (c) has anything to do with LEGS. So we begin with what appears to be, at a minimum, a misstated Ruling. Putting that aside...

Our Guest that asked the question described it like this; "his throwing arm was dangling loose and while taking his signs from the catcher he would motion his hand in a circle". I will concede that this is one of those that you would need to see. How high did he elevate his arm, how small or large was the circle, etc, etc.? If the description had been he moved his index finger in a small circle, while keeping his arm straight down, we certainly couldn't accuse him of starting his motion to come set. Sorry BalksAreTheDevil. They can also be pretty subjective and a good Umpire will not over officiate.

What you read above was a Situation or an example to help clarify the rule. I'm not sure from what year it came. The 2017 NFHS Rule relevant to your question reads like this:

6-2-4d Balk. Failing to pitch to the batter in a continuous motion immediately after any movement of any part of the body such as he habitually uses in his delivery; 

If your 8th grader was elevating his pitching arm and moving it vigorously in a circle, it could have easily been called a balk.

 

6-2-4d applies once a windup is started or after coming set. Otherwise you would have to balk every set pitcher who came to a complete and discernible stop. It does not apply to a pitcher looking in for the sign. But he does have to come set in a continuous motion. The caseplay mentions legs because a leg movement in addition to some arm movement  would probably indicate coming set. Pitchers do not have to step off to stretch their arms, adjust a shirtsleeve, adjust a cap or signal a run thru the sign as long as it's doesn't look like coming set.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Guys:

I interpreted the OP as F1 shaking off or asking for a new sign with his empty throwing hand. Not something I'd judge as the start of his motion. Sounds like a Jr. High parent who knows just enough of the rules to be dangerous.

Sent from my SM-G935T using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
22 hours ago, Donny7 said:

Agreed... It is a Balk and also agree with Maven's remedy at the Varsity level, mainly for one reason. When a runner is stealing on first movement, its the first movement after the pitcher comes set, not while he is taking signs. So as Maven stated it is somewhat of a technicality, usually not an attempt to deceive the runner. So asking his catcher to send him a message is very appropriate.

In the case in point of the 8th grader, I bet he has seen pitchers do exactly what he was doing with his free hand. What he didn't see is that they had stepped off of the pitchers plate and then stepped back on. As an umpire I would explain to his coach his balking mechanic and if that didn't correct it, start calling balks. Its not cruel and unusual punishment, it will be a lesson learned at an early age so when he gets to a level where it really counts, he wont be making the mistakes of his youth.

Please do not take this as I mean to start calling ALL balks at the youth level... Heavens No! We would be calling balks til' the cows come home. This one the Guest described is one that can be and should be easily corrected.      

It's only a problem in FED.  It's legal in OBR. Chances are an 8th grader saw it in an OBR game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
Guest BalksAreTheDevil
19 hours ago, Donny7 said:

 If the description had been he moved his index finger in a small circle, while keeping his arm straight down, we certainly couldn't accuse him of starting his motion to come set. Sorry BalksAreTheDevil. They can also be pretty subjective and a good Umpire will not over officiate.

If your 8th grader was elevating his pitching arm and moving it vigorously in a circle, it could have easily been called a balk.

 

This is EXACTLY what he was doing. I literally want to ask if you were there or something lol. He was moving the index finger in a circle like "go back through them again" or "hurry up I want to work faster than this." So the first part was a very good description of what happened. Sorry I left that out of my original post. 

As far as the second part about arm over his head, then yes I could see that being a balk (and a swift kick in the butt for being silly.) 

I appreciate everyone's responses and discussion. I never dreamed it would garner this much debate. I am going to sign up as a member right now. Seems like a great place to discuss/debate rules.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
On 3/9/2017 at 10:12 AM, maven said:

This is a rather technical balk for failing to come set "without interruption and in one continuous motion." I'd try address it at the varsity level by sending F2 out to tell him not to do that, unless it were egregious and F1 left me no choice.

The "gorilla arm" is the same kind of balk, but not its own category: the fact that this signal doesn't look like "gorilla arm" does not entail that signaling is legal.

Maven,

Doesn't the Gorilla Arm by definition have to have the ball in the dangling hand???

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

'Gorilla arm' is not in the rule or case books, so it doesn't have an official definition.

The applicable case is this one, and it doesn't mention whether the ball is in hand or glove (both are legal in the set):

Quote

6.1.3 SITUATION Q: With a runner on first, Team A right-handed pitcher is in the set position, bent at the waist and his pitching arm naturally hangs down slightly in front or to the side away from his body. As he looks to the catcher for a signal, a) the pitcher’s arm is stationary or b) the pitching arm rocks slightly from side to side.

RULING: In a), the position of the arm is natural and can be considered by his side in meeting the rule. Any movement would then start the pitch. In b), any movement of the arm is considered the start of the pitching motion and a pitch must be delivered to the plate so this motion results in a balk.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
On ‎3‎/‎10‎/‎2017 at 9:08 AM, Jimurray said:

6-2-4d applies once a windup is started or after coming set. Otherwise you would have to balk every set pitcher who came to a complete and discernible stop. It does not apply to a pitcher looking in for the sign. But he does have to come set in a continuous motion. The caseplay mentions legs because a leg movement in addition to some arm movement  would probably indicate coming set. Pitchers do not have to step off to stretch their arms, adjust a shirtsleeve, adjust a cap or signal a run thru the sign as long as it's doesn't look like coming set.

Thank you Jimurray... You are absolutely correct. So for our Guest who asked the question BalksAreTheDevil;

If your pitcher was in the set position taking signs, he shall have his pitching hand either behind his back or hanging straight down (not swinging it back and forth like a pendulum. That is the Gorilla move) The 2017 NFHS Rule relevant to your question reads like this in 6-1-3 in mid paragraph: "He shall go to the set position without interruption and in one continuous motion." 

It's not a biggie and certainly not worth debating. I do still believe the writers of the caseplay you quoted (below) had a brain fart when they added the word LEGS. In that a, b, nor c has nothing to do with LEGS. Unless he adjusted his cap with his toes. :rolleyes:

6.1.2 SITUATION D: 

F1, while on the pitcher’s plate in either the windup or set position, (a) adjusts his cap or (b) shakes off the signal with his glove, or (c) shakes off the signal with his head. 

RULING: In (a) through (c), these are legal actions if these movements of the arms and legs are not associated with the pitch.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
On 3/11/2017 at 6:25 AM, stkjock said:

This is where I wish umpires spoke to the crowd/viewers like they do in the NFL.

In fact, a balk in general is the one play, typically, in MLB that leaves everyone (except umpires) watching clueless to what happened.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
1 hour ago, beerguy55 said:

This is where I wish umpires spoke to the crowd/viewers like they do in the NFL.

PU announces: THE PITCHER HAD NOT STARTED HIS MOTION, THERE IS NO BALK ...

... AND THE JACKASS IN THE FIRST ROW IS EJECTED.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

the op didn't necessarily describe the gorilla arm.  it sounds to me like a pitcher in the set that wants his catcher to run through the signs again. Legal.  If we called every balk we see in a middle school age game we would be there for six hours, and every parent would be yelling because we're not letting them play.  Its like no stop balks in the same age group. 

I had the pleasure of doing a c game the other day with a kid who never pitched before and it was probably 30 degrees.  The other coach was worried that his players were going to get picked off... comical.. the catcher also couldn't get it to second if he walked it out there and dropped it on the bag.  I was standing in the field like "is this coach serious right now."

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Answer this question...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoticons maximum are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.




×