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umpire_scott

Momentary adjustments

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How much in the area of "momentary adjustments" are allowed and what constitutes a balk under these circumstances?

Scenario 1:  F1 comes to pitching plate with ball in his throwing hand in the stretch.  He looks in, then takes the ball and places it in his glove, and then resets to an original starting position.  

Scenario 2:  F1 comes to pitching plate with the ball in his throwing hand in the stretch.  He looks in then takes the ball an puts it in his glove, then he pauses and puts it back into his pitching hand.

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I'm having a little difficulty seeing the difference between those two scenarios, but I have them as balks.

Most "momentary adjustment" happens as part of "getting comfortable on the mound" and happens before F1 looks for a sign.

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I had nothing on the first and I balked the second.  We have a 9-year MiLB umpire in our association he said "no" on the first.  I was not able to ask him yet about the second.

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2018 NFHS Case Book play 6.1.3 Situation E:  With R1, F1, in a set-position stance with the ball in his gloved hand and his pitching hand at his side, takes his sign. He removes the ball from his glove and goes to a set position. RULING:  This is a balk.

2018 Case Book play 6.1.3 Situation F:  With R1, F1 receives the ball from F2 and with his feet in set position stance and in contact with the pitcher’s plate (a) nervously tosses ball in glove two or three times, or (b) removes the ball from his glove. RULING:  This is a balk in (a) and (b). Restrictions on F1’s movements begin when he intentionally contacts the pitcher’s plate with his pivot foot.

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Seems to be by the book that these are very clearly balks, the question becomes if we enforce it. Pitchers drive me nuts with this. Always getting on the rubber with the ball in their glove, and as they put their front foot (non pivot) out towards Home to get ready to take a sign, put the ball in their hand. I usually try to pass a message along to put the ball in their hand before they toe the rubber. If I can sell it as “still getting on the rubber” and no one notices anything I usually let it go. If he’s already motionless and in position on the rubber and clearly taking a sign, and everyone’s watching, then puts it in his hand, I usually balk it so we don’t have to deal with this all game. 

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The game in question was 11U baseball.  He was not taking a sign.  The cases stated were FED and this was an OBR game.  Do most of you call it differently depending on the rule set?

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14 minutes ago, umpire_scott said:

The game in question was 11U baseball.  He was not taking a sign.  The cases stated were FED and this was an OBR game.  Do most of you call it differently depending on the rule set?

The rules are the same , but I would say most of us call it differently depending on level, not rule set. There's plenty little things an 11YO is going to do that's a balk in HS Varsity. .

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12 minutes ago, Richvee said:

The rules are the same , but I would say most of us call it differently depending on level, not rule set. There's plenty little things an 11YO is going to do that's a balk in HS Varsity. .

Agreed. 11u there better be a big advantage gained. Only looking for the major ones. Most other stuff you can just give a coach a heads up on between innings, if you’re so inclined.  

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12 minutes ago, Hkepuck said:

Agreed. 11u there better be a big advantage gained. Only looking for the major ones. Most other stuff you can just give a coach a heads up on between innings, if you’re so inclined.  

I try to do the same...Most coaches are receptive.

Last summer I had a 12 YO coming set and having some problems looking over his left shoulder  without turning them quite a bit..I was letting it go, but it would be balked in a high school game. I told the coach between innings, "he needs to work on looking over his shoulder from the set without turning the shoulders. That's going to be balked every time in a tournament or at higher levels like high school. "

Coach gives me this funny look and barks with a nasty tone, "he's only 12 years old, he's in 7th grade. ...:blah"...I walked away.Thinking to myself, "Yeah, let's not nip a bad habit in the bud now, just let 'em keep going thinking everything's fine. Good thing it was the kid's last inning because I had every intention of balking the shoulder turn next inning. 

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That’s the thing - the kid doesn’t know he’s doing anything wrong. Why wouldn’t a coach be receptive to fixing it? Poor coaching. Same when an 11 year old winds up out of the stretch with no one on or a guy on third - I let it go and comment between innings. 11 yr old probably saw it in MLB, has no idea it’s illegal. 

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40 minutes ago, Hkepuck said:

That’s the thing - the kid doesn’t know he’s doing anything wrong. Why wouldn’t a coach be receptive to fixing it? Poor coaching. Same when an 11 year old winds up out of the stretch with no one on or a guy on third - I let it go and comment between innings. 11 yr old probably saw it in MLB, has no idea it’s illegal. 

... because you, good @Hkepuck sir, understand context.

So too, we have coaches who start gesticulating and getting all in a huff about a 13 year old not pausing long enough, and muttering under their breath they want a balk called... while the ball is at the backstop, R1 has easily moved up to 2nd Base, and there's 1 more Ball given to their batter. No, there's just no understanding of context.

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15 hours ago, umpire_scott said:

The game in question was 11U baseball.  He was not taking a sign.  The cases stated were FED and this was an OBR game.  Do most of you call it differently depending on the rule set?

He was looking in (according to your OP) --- so that's acting like he is taking a sign.  If it's not momentary and not part of the process of getting on the rubber, then it's a balk to remove a hand from the ball.

 

This is from JEA:

Customs and Usage: Once the pitcher has put his hands together while engaged on the rubber in either a wind-up
or set position, he may not take his hand off the ball.
Under professional guidelines, pitchers are allowed to position the ball in their glove while touching the rubber
as long as the umpire considers such adjustments part of his preparatory action. Once the pitcher comes to a
stopped position, he is not allowed to take his hand off the ball unless he steps off the rubber first.

 

And, this rule is the same at all levels.

The issue of "warn / teach or penalize" might vary by level -- but the two sides of the coin are "experience is the best teacher so we want to teach at a level where the game doesn't matter as much" and "don't be too OOO on minor violations at lower levels" -- each umpire needs to decide when to flip the coin from one side to the other.

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Thanks for all the input.  It was probably a little of "had to be there".  I would say the "looking in/taking a sign" could have been judged differently by different umpires.  The kid was pretty deliberate in his motion, so it was probably right on the border of what one would consider "getting settled".  

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On 4/15/2018 at 6:22 PM, Richvee said:

Good thing it was the kid's last inning because I had every intention of balking the shoulder turn next inning. 

And every other pitcher on his team that does that.

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On 4/15/2018 at 11:24 PM, Hkepuck said:

 Same when an 11 year old winds up out of the stretch with no one on or a guy on third - I let it go and comment between innings. 11 yr old probably saw it in MLB, has no idea it’s illegal. 

Actually it's legal in LL.

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2 hours ago, Rich Ives said:

Actually it's legal in LL.

It’s legal in LL because, without the ability to lead-off and/or steal until the pitched ball crosses the plate (generally) there is no act that a F1 can do to deceive a runner.

So what Coach ( @Rich Ives) brings up is very applicable to the context of this topic. Understand the context. These are 11 year olds, playing a “local” game (not for a nationally televised championship game). Is that F1’s shifting the ball back and forth from glove to hand to glove while engaged, before coming set, really deceiving a runner?? Really??

Sure, it’s not technically legal, and at some point (soon), 11-year old little Liam has to learn the proper things to do, but this lying in wait to pounce on an amateur player with a “A-ha! Balk! Gotcha you snot-nosed kid!” is not good game management, and frankly, just sets up participants and fans against umpires even more. Address it, mention it, correct it... but certainly don’t stand there all smug and think, “Yup, I’m right. I know my rules so well.” 

So on this one, I tip my cap to Coach and coaches everywhere... you got some work ahead of you.

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FWIW in my situation in the OP, the opposing HC, who was at 3rd base questioned the non-call of the balk.  He called time and went to my partner behind the plate.  I was not in earshot to hear what was said.  My partner then said that the coach could come talk to me if he wanted to.  The coach came out and said "you know that is a balk when they switch hands like that".  I explained I felt it fell under "momentary adjustment while getting settled".  He mumbled something about that being a balk every time in high school.  We played on.  He made some snide comments about it while warming his pitcher up the next inning, but we moved past it.  Then later in the game, because this was now in the pitchers head about not being able to switch hands, he switched hands and then switched back, while engaged with the plate.  At this point I balked it.

As for it not creating an advantage I think it could a little because the motion of switching hands can be construed by the runner as beginning to come set.  He may extend his lead at this point.  This could make him vulnerable to get picked off.  In addition, if he realizes F1 simply switched hands, he may reduce his lead and throw his timing off for a potential steal.

Many umpires I work with have this notion that almost anything a pitcher does prior to becoming set is legal and can't be balked.  In fact when I talked to some of my colleagues, the first thing out of many of their mouths was, "well it was before he came set, right".  Which in this case was irrelevant.

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On 4/16/2018 at 7:33 AM, noumpere said:

He was looking in (according to your OP) --- so that's acting like he is taking a sign.  If it's not momentary and not part of the process of getting on the rubber, then it's a balk to remove a hand from the ball.

 

This is from JEA:

Customs and Usage: Once the pitcher has put his hands together while engaged on the rubber in either a wind-up
or set position, he may not take his hand off the ball.
Under professional guidelines, pitchers are allowed to position the ball in their glove while touching the rubber
as long as the umpire considers such adjustments part of his preparatory action. Once the pitcher comes to a
stopped position, he is not allowed to take his hand off the ball unless he steps off the rubber first.

 

And, this rule is the same at all levels.

The issue of "warn / teach or penalize" might vary by level -- but the two sides of the coin are "experience is the best teacher so we want to teach at a level where the game doesn't matter as much" and "don't be too OOO on minor violations at lower levels" -- each umpire needs to decide when to flip the coin from one side to the other.

So clearly this is a judgement call on whether the umpire would consider it preparatory or not.  Even though he was deliberate in his motions and did look in, since he was not taking a sign, and he paused for a long time after switching hands, I considered it preparatory.

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6 hours ago, umpire_scott said:

So clearly this is a judgement call on whether the umpire would consider it preparatory or not.  Even though he was deliberate in his motions and did look in, since he was not taking a sign, and he paused for a long time after switching hands, I considered it preparatory.

I'm not saying you were worng, because I wasn't there - -but this should not enter into it -- it was already illegal (or legal) by then

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6 hours ago, umpire_scott said:

So clearly this is a judgement call on whether the umpire would consider it preparatory or not.  Even though he was deliberate in his motions and did look in, since he was not taking a sign, and he paused for a long time after switching hands, I considered it preparatory.

I think Jim Evans would allow more leeway than preparatory based on his video. Most of these adjustments would not be construed as coming set but balk it once and they won't do it again. NCAA and FED would back you by rule. 

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On 4/17/2018 at 10:03 AM, Rich Ives said:

Actually it's legal in LL.

Playing HS rules, regular travel. If it’s LL or a game with no lead offs/stealing, the kid can do a cart wheel during his delivery for all I care.

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On 4/18/2018 at 7:20 PM, Hkepuck said:

Playing HS rules, regular travel. If it’s LL or a game with no lead offs/stealing, the kid can do a cart wheel during his delivery for all I care.

But he would have to deliver the ball before he replanted his feet to push off. We can't have Carter Capps situation.

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