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roothog66

What is your opinion of this Comment?

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While reading another thread, I was reminded of how much I hate the Comment 6.02(a) in the OBR:

Rule 6.02(a ) Comment: Umpires should bear in mind that the purpose of the balk rule is to prevent the pitcher from deliberately deceiving the base runner. If there is doubt in the umpire’s mind, the “intent” of the pitcher should govern.

I know the subject of "deliberately deceiving the base runner" has been discussed ad nauseam, but what I really want to know is the opinion of umpires here on whether this should even be in the book. To me it significantly confuses things rather than clear them up. The comment seems to suggest that an ump should enter into an analysis of a pitcher's intent when deciding whether to call a balk. Several time a year, I'll get into an argument where someone contends that some move by a pitcher is, or should be, a balk because "it is against the rules to deliberately deceive the runner." I'll then carefully explain to them that there is no rule against deception, there are only spelled out violations that are balks. After my well thought out explanation, they will invariably point me to this comment and my only rebuttal is, "That's not a rule! It's a comment!"

So, my question is why the hell is it there? Do umpires find this comment helpful? It actually seems to suggest that an umpire who sees a technical violation of the balk rules should go further and decide, not only has the pitcher violated a rule, but has he done so intentionally. Alternatively, others would argue it gives umpires the cover to call something a balk that isn't a technical violation of the rules. So, in the opinion of those here, is it helpful to you or would it be better if this comment were eliminated from the rulebook?

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1 hour ago, roothog66 said:

I know the subject of "deliberately deceiving the base runner" has been discussed ad nauseam, but what I really want to know is the opinion of umpires here on whether this should even be in the book.

Properly interpreted, the clause is harmless.

Note that the comment includes the phrase, "If there is doubt...." For 99% of the possible balks, we have (or should have) no doubt at all: lots of players and coaches don't know the rule, but if we have a proper understanding of the rule and its application, we will have no doubt in those cases. And in those cases, F1's intent is irrelevant (for instance, dropping the ball while engaged).

Only the < 1% of cases might cause doubt in good umpires' minds (and remember: this rule was written for pro umpires, not for you and me). And then, they have some recourse for judging whether the action constitutes a balk.

Note also that FED does not include this provision (though I use it all the same, scofflaw that I am).

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3 hours ago, roothog66 said:

While reading another thread, I was reminded of how much I hate the Comment 6.02(a) in the OBR:

Rule 6.02(a ) Comment: Umpires should bear in mind that the purpose of the balk rule is to prevent the pitcher from deliberately deceiving the base runner. If there is doubt in the umpire’s mind, the “intent” of the pitcher should govern.

I know the subject of "deliberately deceiving the base runner" has been discussed ad nauseam, but what I really want to know is the opinion of umpires here on whether this should even be in the book. To me it significantly confuses things rather than clear them up. The comment seems to suggest that an ump should enter into an analysis of a pitcher's intent when deciding whether to call a balk. Several time a year, I'll get into an argument where someone contends that some move by a pitcher is, or should be, a balk because "it is against the rules to deliberately deceive the runner." I'll then carefully explain to them that there is no rule against deception, there are only spelled out violations that are balks. After my well thought out explanation, they will invariably point me to this comment and my only rebuttal is, "That's not a rule! It's a comment!"

So, my question is why the hell is it there? Do umpires find this comment helpful? It actually seems to suggest that an umpire who sees a technical violation of the balk rules should go further and decide, not only has the pitcher violated a rule, but has he done so intentionally. Alternatively, others would argue it gives umpires the cover to call something a balk that isn't a technical violation of the rules. So, in the opinion of those here, is it helpful to you or would it be better if this comment were eliminated from the rulebook?

The only issue I have is a conceptual one that baseball outlaws a pitcher deliberately deceiving a runner because the reality is that's what they try to do by disguising their pick-off move. By nature, they're being deceptive. I'm fine with the language as it's been written.

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I only question its utility. I don't think it aids umpires in making calls and I don't think it aids players, coaches, or fans in understanding the balk rules. If this were actually a rule and not a comment, it would be a "catch all" rule that would cover unexpected situations, but as a comment, it adds nothing to the rules. 

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If anything, @roothog66, it clarifies actions by the pitcher. Not only can we not have a balk without baserunners (which I’ve witnessed called by amateur umpires against F1’s facing the leadoff batter), but it also eliminates the phantom, concocted “first baseman’s balk” (that doesn’t exist). A balk is what a pitcher commits so as to deceive a/the Runner. If a F3 sets up in foul territory to receive a pickoff throw, is the pitcher committing the action? And, is that throw-over a pitch (by definition)? No. So why are amateur umpires calling a balk on the F3?

Because obviously, they didn’t read the rules... and the comments.

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I think it has to do with resolving "benefit of the doubt" issues.

 

For example, without the comment, the "momentary adjustment" that a pitcher is allowed would (or might be) illegal.  Or, by literal rule, if F1 places the right foot on the rubber and then steps forward with the left foot to complete the act of "taking the rubber" -- that step would be a balk.  Or, if F1 drops the ball just as he is taking the rubber -- we should probably ignore that.

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6 minutes ago, MadMax said:

If anything, @roothog66, it clarifies actions by the pitcher. Not only can we not have a balk without baserunners (which I’ve witnessed called by amateur umpires against F1’s facing the leadoff batter), but it also eliminates the phantom, concocted “first baseman’s balk” (that doesn’t exist). A balk is what a pitcher commits so as to deceive a/the Runner. If a F3 sets up in foul territory to receive a pickoff throw, is the pitcher committing the action? And, is that throw-over a pitch (by definition)? No. So why are amateur umpires calling a balk on the F3?

Because obviously, they didn’t read the rules... and the comments.

A few missguided souls might have actually read the rule in the Triumph version  and based their balk on the indenting of 4.03(old) or 5.02 (new) without having any other training. Triumph corrected the indenting in their 2016 version.

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