Jump to content
  • 0
Guest Curious Blue

Balk or NO Balk

Question

Guest Curious Blue

Runner on 1B no outs. First baseman playing in on grass anticipating a bunt, approximately 10 foot away from base. Pitcher while in contact with the pitchers plate, throws ball to first baseman who is still about 10 foot away from base and making no attempt to move toward 1B.  Balk or No Balk? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Recommended Posts

  • 0

The pitching restrictions require the pitcher to step and throw (or feint, if allowed) to a base. Throwing to a fielder who is not in position to make a play on a runner is feinting a throw to a base.

Thus, the play you describe is an illegal feint to 1B, and thus a balk. Same rule, all codes (with balks).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

You said, the pitcher was in contact with the pitchers plate, he does not have to do anything special until he comes "set". We also need to know if he is a right or left handed pitcher.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
20 minutes ago, BigVic69 said:

You said, the pitcher was in contact with the pitchers plate, he does not have to do anything special until he comes "set". We also need to know if he is a right or left handed pitcher.

You need the sarcasm emoji around this, especially in this forum.

Unless of course, you were serious--in which case you are also wrong.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Here's a video example of what @maven and @noumpere are explaining...

Notice, @BigVic69, that Woodruff (the F1) has not come set yet, so that's not an issue. Instead, Thames (the F3) not only receives the throw a distance away from 1B, but he does nothing to even hint at making a play on the Runner (R1). If he had received the throw, let the momentum of the throw carry him towards the base, and even casually gestured a "checking" tag towards the Runner, then a Balk (likely) wouldn't have been called (when I asked a MLB umpire about this exact play, this is what he answered; no, he was not one of the four on that field in that game). But because Thames didn't make a play – even a simple, token, cursory one – upon the runner, the Balk is called.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Mr. maven, where does your theory that a throw to a fielder who is not in position to make a play is an illegal feint come from? I ask because that theory is not expressed in any of the interpretation manuals that I have—2018 MiLBUM, 2014 PBUC, 2015 MLBUM, 2013 Wendelstedt, 2017 Jaksa/Roder, nor in the 2016 BRD.

In fact, it isn’t in the current NCAA Study Guide either. Here’s what its author George Demetriou says about pickoffs to a fielder away from the base—

“The pickoff attempt must be a legitimate effort to retire the runner. If the pitcher throws to the first or third baseman who is playing off the base, and is obviously not in position to attempt a tag, it is a balk unless the fielder moves toward first base in an attempt to retire the runner (9-3c1 Nt)...”

Here is the cited NCAA rule and please note that the rule differentiates between a throw and a feint to throw--

2019-2020 NCAA rule 9 SECTION 3. If there is a runner or runners, a balk shall be called for the following action by a pitcher:

c. While in a pitching position, throw to any base in an attempt to retire a runner without first stepping directly toward such base; or throw or feint a throw toward any base when it is not an attempt to retire a runner or prevent the runner from advancing;

1)     The pitcher, while touching the pitcher’s rubber, must step toward the base, preceding or simultaneous with any move toward that base. The pitcher is committed, upon raising the lead leg, to throw to the base being faced, to second base or to the plate. When throwing or feinting a throw to a base not being faced, the pitcher must step immediately, directly and gain ground toward that base.

Note: If the pitcher throws to the first or third baseman who is playing off the base, a balk shall not be called if the fielder moves toward the occupied base in an attempt to retire the runner.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

So NCAA has an explicit provision making it illegal to pick to F3 not making a play. Cool. 

Neither OBR nor FED have that provision. Yet it's still a balk. Why?

We employ the definition of 'feint'. When a rule requires 2 things, one may feint by faking either one of them. And the relevant rule requires (after a step) throwing to 1B.

The rule requires (1) a throw and (2) a specific target (the base). So it's possible to feint by (1) faking a throw, or (2) throwing it elsewhere. No manual needed, other than a dictionary I suppose.

That's my theory, and it explains why this is a balk in codes other than NCAA.

What's your theory?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

FED has (or had) an essentially similar provision (the specific reference might have changed):

6.2.4 SITUATION J: With R1 on first base and two outs, F1 attempts to pick off R1. As F1 pivots to throw,
he realizes that F3 is not on the base, but is in his normal defensive position. F1 completes the throw
without interruption. The coach of the offensive team wants a balk called on F1. RULING: As long as F3 is
in the proximity of the base, F1 would not be guilty of a balk. Proximity is umpire judgment and is based
on whether the fielder is close enough to the base to legitimately make a play on the runner.

  • Like 2

Share this post


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

FED has (or had) an essentially similar provision (the specific reference might have changed):

6.2.4 SITUATION J: With R1 on first base and two outs, F1 attempts to pick off R1. As F1 pivots to throw,
he realizes that F3 is not on the base, but is in his normal defensive position. F1 completes the throw
without interruption. The coach of the offensive team wants a balk called on F1. RULING: As long as F3 is
in the proximity of the base, F1 would not be guilty of a balk. Proximity is umpire judgment and is based
on whether the fielder is close enough to the base to legitimately make a play on the runner.

That's still in the 2020 book.

And we know it's a balk (in all codes with balks); that point is not in dispute. The question is why.

Unfortunately, the case play provides no rule reference (and is not itself a rule), so the basis of the balk ruling is still unclear (compared to NCAA, which has a black-letter rule on the point). All we know (from the case number) is that it's something in 6-2-4.

Theory still required for FED.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Theoretically, I am still not convinced it should be a balk just because the fielder does not make a tag attempt.  Not all throws to the base are intended as an “attempt to retire the runner”.  Many are just an effort to drive the runner back, which is legit.  In the MLB video (and this is just my opinion), the fielder was close enough to have made a play ... maybe not an ideal position, but he could have ... he just elected not to.  You often see F3 receive a throw and immediately throw back to F1 without a tag.  Should that be a balk each time?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
3 hours ago, The Man in Blue said:

Theoretically, I am still not convinced it should be a balk just because the fielder does not make a tag attempt.  Not all throws to the base are intended as an “attempt to retire the runner”.  Many are just an effort to drive the runner back, which is legit.  In the MLB video (and this is just my opinion), the fielder was close enough to have made a play ... maybe not an ideal position, but he could have ... he just elected not to.  You often see F3 receive a throw and immediately throw back to F1 without a tag.  Should that be a balk each time?

The no tag is just an indicator that the F3 may have been too far. Kinda like how when a catcher pulls a pitch he's telling us the pitch was probably too far to be a strike. If the F3 doesn't try to make a tag he is telling you he doesn't have a play.  That may be because the runner was back easy, or it may be because he was too far to make a play. Have to use context.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
3 hours ago, The Man in Blue said:

Theoretically, I am still not convinced it should be a balk just because the fielder does not make a tag attempt.  Not all throws to the base are intended as an “attempt to retire the runner”.  Many are just an effort to drive the runner back, which is legit.  In the MLB video (and this is just my opinion), the fielder was close enough to have made a play ... maybe not an ideal position, but he could have ... he just elected not to.  You often see F3 receive a throw and immediately throw back to F1 without a tag.  Should that be a balk each time?

Careful here.

If we extended that standard of intent, or lack thereof, to a swing, then no check swing could ever be called a strike, because by definition and common sense a check swing is an attempt to NOT swing...it is an absolute declaration that the batter has changed his mind, and has revoked his intent to swing or strike at the ball....but we still call the strike about as often as we don't...because it makes sense.   At some point discerning intent is pointless, and impossible.

There is judgment and common sense here...I don't think an ump would be faulted for letting this one go, but only because of proximity in using that judgment to "could have made a play"...he looks to be about 8 feet away from the runner...to me, too far away, especially when he shows an absolute lack of intent to tag the runner...but if you think he's "close enough" then what about 10 feet?  15 feet?

 

Because then you also get into the argument of whether or not F1 threw to first base...if F3 didn't catch it the ball would have likely passed right over the base on it's way up to the RF corner....at some point we have to move from theory and technicality to practicality.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
On 3/1/2020 at 9:18 AM, BigVic69 said:

You said, the pitcher was in contact with the pitchers plate, he does not have to do anything special until he comes "set". We also need to know if he is a right or left handed pitcher.

HUH?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

If pitcher throw towards the bag I don't care where the fielder is. As long as he throws at the bag..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
4 hours ago, The Man in Blue said:

Not all throws to the base are intended as an “attempt to retire the runner”.  Many are just an effort to drive the runner back, which is legit.

None of the rules require that a pickoff involve an "attempt to retire the runner." The appearance to the contrary is from Demetriou, who's notoriously sloppy, interpreting an NCAA rule. That rule also allows an attempt to retire a runner to otherwise excuse an illegal throw to a fielder away from the base.

The FED case play is interpreting "throw to a base" in terms of proximity, specifically close enough to make a play (or attempt to retire). Note that a play or attempt is not required: the throw is close enough to the base if the fielder is close enough to make a play.

In practice, these come to pretty much the same thing: if F3 in a HS game is playing in and still tries to make a play, I'm probably not balking it. If he's back in usual position, 15–20 feet from the base, I probably am.

Share this post


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

None of the rules require that a pickoff involve an "attempt to retire the runner." The appearance to the contrary is from Demetriou, who's notoriously sloppy, interpreting an NCAA rule. That rule also allows an attempt to retire a runner to otherwise excuse an illegal throw to a fielder away from the base.

The FED case play is interpreting "throw to a base" in terms of proximity, specifically close enough to make a play (or attempt to retire). Note that a play or attempt is not required: the throw is close enough to the base if the fielder is close enough to make a play.

In practice, these come to pretty much the same thing: if F3 in a HS game is playing in and still tries to make a play, I'm probably not balking it. If he's back in usual position, 15–20 feet from the base, I probably am.

This 2007 interp cites 6-2-4b but that seems to be not relevant:

"SITUATION 19: With R1 on first and no outs in a close game, the first baseman is playing about 20 feet in front of first base in case of a bunt attempt by B2. The pitcher, in the stretch position, throws to F3 in a pick-off attempt on R1. RULING: This is a balk. The first baseman is not in proximity of first base and is not close enough to legitimately make a play on the runner. The ball is dead and R1 is awarded second base. (6-2-4b)"

It seems that F3 needs to be close to 1B or close to the runner in FED. I think Jim Evans balk video for OBR requires you to judge whether there was a "play" on if the throw goes to F3 off the bag. I would cite the violation of feinting to 1B as the reason for the balk in FED and OBR (3B included for OBR).

Share this post


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

None of the rules require that a pickoff involve an "attempt to retire the runner." The appearance to the contrary is from Demetriou, who's notoriously sloppy, interpreting an NCAA rule. That rule also allows an attempt to retire a runner to otherwise excuse an illegal throw to a fielder away from the base.

The FED case play is interpreting "throw to a base" in terms of proximity, specifically close enough to make a play (or attempt to retire). Note that a play or attempt is not required: the throw is close enough to the base if the fielder is close enough to make a play.

In practice, these come to pretty much the same thing: if F3 in a HS game is playing in and still tries to make a play, I'm probably not balking it. If he's back in usual position, 15–20 feet from the base, I probably am.


 

OBR 6.02(8)
C171F61A-F32C-48A8-95EC-B7B198B6C410.thumb.jpeg.eea59ff35e76f4467ffc754f7bd28ff3.jpeg

NCAA 9.2.f

38D5B73E-27BC-4EAF-863A-1311119BC260.thumb.jpeg.aeebdb8add85626658cc233134209c55.jpeg

 

NFHS 6.2.2(a)

8C410E03-8D58-4F7E-B31A-D308585EC97E.thumb.jpeg.07535513619c32358832cb16e4734473.jpeg

Share this post


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

This 2007 interp cites 6-2-4b but that seems to be not relevant:

"SITUATION 19: With R1 on first and no outs in a close game, the first baseman is playing about 20 feet in front of first base in case of a bunt attempt by B2. The pitcher, in the stretch position, throws to F3 in a pick-off attempt on R1. RULING: This is a balk. The first baseman is not in proximity of first base and is not close enough to legitimately make a play on the runner. The ball is dead and R1 is awarded second base. (6-2-4b)"

It seems that F3 needs to be close to 1B or close to the runner in FED. I think Jim Evans balk video for OBR requires you to judge whether there was a "play" on if the throw goes to F3 off the bag. I would cite the violation of feinting to 1B as the reason for the balk in FED and OBR (3B included for OBR).

Another example of an interpretation that is contrary to the rules and makes a BS citation in attempt to justify it.

6.2.4(b) has NO reference to the location of the fielder.  If the fielder is 20 feet away, but the throw drives back the runner, it is legal by the wording.

1BBCCF74-5AE4-4258-8892-2576161ACC21.thumb.jpeg.883fdb5bc30bb826324a0b1dd2f1bde2.jpeg4ABA9251-8E86-4E07-9E41-E8A7BD3316D8.thumb.jpeg.53d70e950d3c85fe3b5bbc92153dd33d.jpeg

Share this post


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

The no tag is just an indicator that the F3 may have been too far. Kinda like how when a catcher pulls a pitch he's telling us the pitch was probably too far to be a strike. If the F3 doesn't try to make a tag he is telling you he doesn't have a play.  That may be because the runner was back easy, or it may be because he was too far to make a play. Have to use context.

I understand what you are getting at, but in the video there is no tag because the runner was already back.  I fully agree it could be an indicator, and that is why I find it dangerous to use wording like that in rules or interpretations — my point is too many people turn them in to false standards.  Saying “there was no tag, it’s a balk” is a slippery slope.

Share this post


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

None of the rules require that a pickoff involve an "attempt to retire the runner." The appearance to the contrary is from Demetriou, who's notoriously sloppy, interpreting an NCAA rule. That rule also allows an attempt to retire a runner to otherwise excuse an illegal throw to a fielder away from the base.

The FED case play is interpreting "throw to a base" in terms of proximity, specifically close enough to make a play (or attempt to retire). Note that a play or attempt is not required: the throw is close enough to the base if the fielder is close enough to make a play.

In practice, these come to pretty much the same thing: if F3 in a HS game is playing in and still tries to make a play, I'm probably not balking it. If he's back in usual position, 15–20 feet from the base, I probably am.

This (balk) situation is one of the most debated in our association.  Distance, to me, can be a factor but not the only one.

 

If, with R1 occupying 1st, F3 is playing "normal", breaks toward 1st but catches the ball 15 feet from it do you have a balk?  He, in no way, could have made a play--but he obviously was trying.

Share this post


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

If, with R1 occupying 1st, F3 is playing "normal", breaks toward 1st but catches the ball 15 feet from it do you have a balk?  He, in no way, could have made a play--but he obviously was trying.

15 feet is a long way. IMO it fails to satisfy the FED requirement of "proximity" to the base (unless it went over the base). So, yes, balk for FED. I'd rule the same for amateur OBR games.

I have no opinion about NCAA.

I do have an opinion about debates in associations, which are generally a waste of time (in my experience). There's understanding the rule, and there's judgment. For judgment, most cases are clear. For borderline cases, it's silly to argue judgment without video; if you have video, get an authoritative opinion and tell the association how the authority wants the play ruled.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

I think Jim Evans balk video for OBR requires you to judge whether there was a "play" on if the throw goes to F3 off the bag. I would cite the violation of feinting to 1B as the reason for the balk in FED and OBR (3B included for OBR).


That's exactly how Evans explained it. If you judged a play was on, it was not a balk. It was an attempt to retire the runner. It would be hard to convince me that F3 taking a throw 15' from the bag was making a play.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
11 hours ago, The Man in Blue said:

Is an attempt to drive the runner back a play?

I'd use something like this:

A play or attempted play is interpreted as a legitimate effort by a defensive player who has
possession of the ball to actually retire a runner. This may include an actual attempt to tag a
runner, a fielder running toward a base with the ball in an attempt to force or tag a runner, or
actually throwing to another defensive player in an attempt to retire a runner. (The fact that the
runner is not out is not relevant.) A fake or a feint to throw shall not be deemed a play or an
attempted play.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
12 hours ago, The Man in Blue said:

Is an attempt to drive the runner back a play?

I've never seen someone drive back a runner without at least hoping they could catch the guy napping. Yes they understand they won't get him 99% of the time on that throw, but they still are trying to get him out, so I'd rule it a play.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
3 hours ago, noumpere said:

I'd use something like this:

A play or attempted play is interpreted as a legitimate effort by a defensive player who has
possession of the ball to actually retire a runner. This may include an actual attempt to tag a
runner, a fielder running toward a base with the ball in an attempt to force or tag a runner, or
actually throwing to another defensive player in an attempt to retire a runner. (The fact that the
runner is not out is not relevant.) A fake or a feint to throw shall not be deemed a play or an
attempted play.

You can't do that!  That would add another, like, 42 pages to the rule book!  At minimum, it requires another external source to be published!  :P

This is my point, as with many of the challenges I take on ... we need to quit being literal with rule interpretations (and applying them as rules) and start being literal with the rule book.  While I disagree that every throw to first base is an attempt to retire a runner (many pick off attempts are just attempts to drive the runner back, reduce the lead he is taking, and/or let him know the pitcher is paying attention), I like that you are acknowledging specific actions (i.e., a tag) are NOT necessary.  Rule interpretations should be teaching us to think like umpires, not providing literal answers.  Interps should be teaching us how to apply rules, not creating new ones or substituting for existing ones.

Umpires who refuse to think drive me up a wall.  But that's OK, because I know I drive them up a wall.   It takes all of us nuts to grow the forest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
Answer this question...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji 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.


×
×
  • Create New...