A Few Balks in the Park

Monday, May 18, 2009

Balk: A rule in baseball that even the most die-hard of fans have trouble comprehending.

Explain it how you want; I just don't understand it. So what if this admission deems me as one who lacks the full knowledge of the game? I just don't get the rule. I can be watching the game and then wala, the runners advance on a play that I must have missed. No, wait... there was a balk.

I do know that the purpose of the balk rule is to prevent the pitcher from deliberately befuddling the base runner (or occasionally the batter). Most basically, a pitcher is restricted to a certain set of motions and one of two basic pitching positions prior to and during a pitch; if these are violated, a balk is called.

More than this I cannot tell you. I can read the rule through and through and still, you're bound to get more out of a mime on the topic.

...But if you want to discuss Major League Balk Records then we can definitely do lunch together. Eli's Sports Bureau strives in the number crunching area:

  • Did you know the Major League record for career balks is held by Steve Carlton with 90?
  • Did you know that the record in a single season is held by Dave Stewart, who had 16 balks in 1988 while pitching for the Oakland Athletics?
  • Did you know that on May 17th, 2009, Mike " Little Talkin' Big Balkin' " Pelfrey balked 3 times in the span of 78 pitches? Not your typical balk in the park.
  • Did you know that on August 7th, 1984, Joe Hesketh, was called-up by the Montreal Expos and before he ever threw a single Major League pitch, umpires called a balk on him?
To be honest, I don't reckon you should think I'm crazy. I'm not the only one. Besides for the fact that most of the position players are clueless on the rules of the game (without even discussing the balk rule), even some umpires have struggled with rules, as well.

So any of you out there who care to explain it to me, go ahead, try. Cut and paste the rules from a Wiki and convince yourself you've done your share. You haven't. You can't. The day I learn exactly what the balk is will be the very same day I stop following the game of baseball.

Balk on that!


wario said...

A balk is one of the lesser-known rules in the sport of Baseball. A balk restricts the actions of the pitcher when there are runners on base. In general, a balk is called whenever a pitcher interrupts the pitching motion. Here are most of the situations that would cause an umpire to call a balk:

Pitcher does not come to a complete stop while standing on the pitching rubber. During a pitch, ball slips out of a pitcher's hand and crosses the foul line. This would be a 'ball' if there were no runners on base. Pitcher begins to make the motions typically associated with his pitching stroke but ceases during its delivery. While on the pitching rubber, pitcher throws to a base before or without stepping toward that base. Note, that the pitcher can step off of the pitching rubber and throw anywhere. Pitcher fakes a throw to an unoccupied base. With runners on base, pitcher makes a pitch before the batter has had sufficient time to get set in the batter's box. This would be a 'ball' if there were no runners on base. Pitcher makes a pitch while he is not facing the batter. Pitcher makes a motion typically associated with his pitching motion but his foot is not touching the pitching rubber. After pausing in the pitching position, pitcher removes one hand from the ball. Dropping the ball once on the pitching plate is also ruled a balk.
The underlying principle behind the balk rule is to protect base-runners (and would-be base-stealers) from being deceived by the pitcher. Deceiving a base-runner is the best way to throw him out, but if the deception breaks one of the guidelines above, a balk has occurred.

What is the penalty for balking? Each base runner is allowed to advance one base; runners on third advance to home and score one run.

The word 'balk' has moved into colloquial speech and is used to refer to an intentional and abrupt stop.

wario said...

Eventhough Murph is stuggeling, i dont think he is a liability to ground into a DP, like Angel is.
I think that was a bad call on Manuels part. And it cost us the game.

Skeptic Al said...

Wario...I just checked on wario.blogspot.com and its available if you want your own blog. Geez.

Eli From Brooklyn said...

Thanks, Wario, for confusing me even more than I was originally.

Manuel's moves will be questioned. Like the time he brought in Santos over Castro, Pagan over Murphy...

Even Management's decisions aren't brilliant. Why bring Delgado out west if he's brought back shortly after? Why bring Church to Colorado? Why bring Willie to L.A. (and fire him after a win, nonetheless, showing that this was a predeterminded decision)?

Some things, similar to the balk, I just don't get.

haraz31 said...

Eli i agree with this post Management is a little off i know that the wilpons are in omars back pocket but if they dont win this year i expect omar to get the hook

Eli From Brooklyn said...

Totally agree. Had that very thought last week... or was I thinking about Cashman? Either way, yes, Minaya is done if they don't get the job done.

If they break up the core, I can see Wright or Reyes getting the boot. Unless, since Beltran's only got 2 more years left.... I dunno....

haraz31 said...

Whoever is gonna get us more in a trade
On another note i want to see Murphy at 1st everygame lets see if he can takeover after Delgado's contract is up
the outfield can be a rotation of the Church, The Angel, Tatis, Sheff in the corners and Beltran in Center.

Eli From Brooklyn said...

I can go with that.

Murhpy working at first...preparing or trying out the position (for us to see, as well)...

and then you got the 4 guys in the outfield... I'm game with that.

Eli From Brooklyn said...

(excluding Beltran, that is).