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Guest Chris G

Straddling the rubber - called a balk

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Guest Chris G

Ran into this last night in a Cal Ripken 12U game. Head coach of opposing team (also the league commissioner and therefore employer of the umpires, btw) asked for and got a balk when our pitcher straddled the rubber before taking his set position and "received" a sign from the catcher.  Catcher did not give any signs but was ready and could have at that point. The rule (8.01 I think) says for gameplay the pitcher "shall" take the rubber when receiving signs from the catcher but there is no specific reference that it is balk to receive signs when not engaged with the rubber. I've seen kids straddle the rubber hundreds of times while the catcher was giving signs to his defense, which seems the same. Any clarification here would be appreciated.

Chris

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The thing is - a catcher can provide signs and signals to the pitcher and the defense in many ways at many times - pitcher might not even be on the mound...the actual signs that are occurring when the pitcher is on the rubber could even be a decoy...the actual sign given in an non-traditional way before the pitcher takes the rubber.

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......lets take it a step further......due to locations of the dugout, catcher etc.....the catcher may not be able to see the coach flashing signals.  I've seen the PITHCHER  take the signals from the coach, step on the rubber, the catcher starts flashing through signals, pitcher shakes off, until catcher gets to the right signal, pitcher nods, and now they are on the same page.  So who gave who the signal?

Did the pitcher allow time for the batter to be set before the pitch?  OOO here in this OP?  Maybe?

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The rule about taking the signs from the rubber is to eliminate the quick pitch. F1 takes his signs from the coach, steps on and fires it in there, thus quick pitching. 

The part of the rule I think the coach was trying to enforce was deceiving the runner, but did the F1 start any motion which would normally be associated with a pitching motion while not on the rubber? If so, then that would be a balk. Just straddling, looking at F2, I have nothing.

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Guest Chris G

No he did not attempt to simulate a pitch. And the umpires specifically said it was a balk for taking a sign from the catcher. 

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23 minutes ago, Guest Chris G said:

What rule states this is a balk?

There is no rule in OBR, which is what CR uses, that states this is a balk. If it led to a QP it would be a balk with runners on but it's highly unlikely that's what you are talking about. If the umpire thought the rule should be enforced he would tell the pitcher not to do that. The purpose of the rule is to prevent quick pitching. However FED and NCAA do have wording where an over officious official could call a ball or a balk.

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1 hour ago, Jimurray said:

If it led to a QP it would be a balk with runners on

That's not quite accurate, and saying stuff like that encourages errors like this.

A quick pitch is an illegal pitch and a balk with runners on. It doesn't matter what "led to" or preceded it, including straddling the rubber with the ball (with or without taking signs).

Let's keep it simple: straddling the rubber with the ball, by itself, is not illegal.

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1 hour ago, maven said:

That's not quite accurate, and saying stuff like that encourages errors like this.

A quick pitch is an illegal pitch and a balk with runners on. It doesn't matter what "led to" or preceded it, including straddling the rubber with the ball (with or without taking signs).

Let's keep it simple: straddling the rubber with the ball, by itself, is not illegal.

I think the error was the umpires agreement with their employer that the pitcher looking at his catcher while straddling the rubber was a balk because it violated this rule:

"5.07 Pitching
(a) Legal Pitching Delivery
There are two legal pitching positions, the Windup Position and the
Set Position, and either position may be used at any time.
Pitchers shall take signs from the catcher while in contact with the
pitcher’s plate.
Rule 5.07(a) Comment: Pitchers may disengage the rubber
after taking their signs but may not step quickly onto the rubber
and pitch. This may be judged a quick pitch by the umpire."

If they thought looking at the catcher violated the rule, which it didn't, then in OBR it would be a "do not do that." I wouldn't think my reference to a QP resulting from actually getting the sign and stepping onto the rubber to QP as a remotely possible balk should confuse anyone. Most likely the umpires involved did not know the origin of the rule to prevent quick pitching. 

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3 hours ago, Aging_Arbiter said:

Did the pitcher allow time for the batter to be set before the pitch?  OOO here in this OP?  Maybe?

 

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It's abundantly clear that knowing the rules is not a prerequisite for being league commissioner or employer of the umpires.  Sounds like he talked them into it and abused his power.

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1 hour ago, grayhawk said:

It's abundantly clear that knowing the rules is not a prerequisite for being league commissioner or employer of the umpires.  Sounds like he talked them into it and abused his power.

And usually it's all very subtle and implicit.  I've seen the president of a local ball association wear his clearly labelled jacket when coaching.  So, when he talks to the umpires about a scenario it's very clear who he is, without coming right out and explicitly pulling rank.

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15 hours ago, beerguy55 said:

And usually it's all very subtle and implicit.  I've seen the president of a local ball association wear his clearly labelled jacket when coaching.  So, when he talks to the umpires about a scenario it's very clear who he is, without coming right out and explicitly pulling rank.

HA!!    In my game, those are the ones with the shortest leash.

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56 minutes ago, Aging_Arbiter said:

HA!!    In my game, those are the ones with the shortest leash.

And EXACTLY why I don't do "weekend/pay to play" baseball.

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Horrible abuse of power and all leagues should ban this from happening. I work as the UIC at the same complex my son plays at. My GM was a high school umpire and is on site, the few times there was a rule question during my sons game I have asked the GM to handle it so that their was no conflict and no one could say I was being biased. The other teams after the game who know me thanked me for doing that. 

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