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Balk or not??


Guest Joe

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Guest Joe

If a right handed pitcher is in the stretch and is ready to pitch with a runner on first, can the pitcher slowly lift his right leg (pivot foot) up in the air to a high knee position, step back off the rubber and then throw to first? Would this be considered a balk even though his right foot was the first thing to come off the rubber and step behind it. Obviously it was an attempt to deceive the runner but it was the pivot foot and nothing else moves. I say it is a legal move.  Thoughts???

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10 minutes ago, mark38090 said:

I'll take a stab. I'd say it simulates the pitching motion with intent to deceive the runner and I've got a balk. 

Wrong foot.

Also, intent to deceive has nothing to do with a balk.

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Not much is written about how a pitcher should disengage the rubber—what little I have found says that what you are describing here is a balk. 

From the 2013 Wendelstedt Rules and Interpretations Manual (p. 102):

The pitcher, while touching his plate, makes a motion naturally associated with his pitch, and fails to complete his delivery. The pitcher bends his back knee (he broke his knee) in an attempt to simulate his pitching motion, and then throws to a base in an attempt to pick off a runner [6.02(a)(1)]…

…The pitcher raises his pivot foot to disengage the rubber and fails to disengage (He didn’t disengage properly)

 

From the 2017 Jaksa/Roder manual (p. 149):

It is a balk if a pitcher who is in-contact…

fails to disengage the rubber properly. Such pitcher is still in-contact for the purpose of a subsequent throw. A pitcher can disengage properly only if he steps his pivot foot onto the ground backward of and off the pitching rubber. He must do so without interruption or hesitation, and without a movement normally associated with his motion to pitch.

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No rule specifies how F1 must disengage, other than that he must disengage "properly." That means stepping directly backward and landing the pivot foot behind (not on) the rubber.

If the step satisfies those conditions, then it's legal—including, as far as you've described it, the motion in the OP.

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From the 2019-2020 College Baseball Rules Study Guide (p. 140) written by George Demetriou:

Once the pitcher has assumed either position, he may switch to the other only by first properly disengaging the rubber (stepping off). To be legal, the first movement must be the pivot foot in a rearward direction (9-1a5).

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Legality aside, I don't really see how the move would be very deceptive to R1 - is the idea that R1 somehow mistakes F1's right/pivot foot for his left? That seems unlikely, no?

I'd probably call it a balk though, if he's raising the right knee straight up / bent simulating what his left would do on a pitch. He's not stepping off there, he's clearly trying to simulate a pitching motion.

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