A Balk is a penalty charged against the pitcher
for deviating from the legal pitching motion while a runner is
on base to put out (pick off) a base runner who has taken a
lead from his base.
step for a left-handed pitcher in an attempt to make a pick-off
to 1st base is a myth!
Here is the rule:
If there is a runner, or runners, it is a balk
pitcher, while touching his plate, makes any motion
naturally associated with his pitch and fails to make such
Comment: If a left-handed or right-handed pitcher swings his
free foot past the back edge of the pitcher’s rubber, he is
required to pitch to the batter except to throw to second base
on a pick-off play.
pitcher, while touching his plate, feints a throw to first
base and fails to complete the throw;
pitcher, while touching his plate, fails to step
directly toward a base before
throwing to that base;
Comment: Requires the pitcher, while touching his plate, to
step directly toward a base
before throwing to that base. If a pitcher turns or spins off
of his free foot without actually stepping or if he turns his
body and throws before stepping, it is a balk.
A pitcher is to
step directly toward a base before throwing to that base but
does not require him to throw (except to first base only)
because he steps. It is possible, with runners on first and
third, for the pitcher to step toward third and not throw,
merely to bluff the runner back to third; then seeing the
runner on first start for second, turn and step toward and
throw to first base. This is legal. However, if, with runners
on first and third, the pitcher, while in contact with the
rubber, steps toward third and then immediately and in
practically the same motion "wheels" and throws to first base,
it is obviously an attempt to deceive
the runner at first base, and in such a move it is practically
impossible to step directly toward first base before the throw
to first base, and such a move shall be called a balk. Of
course, if the pitcher steps off the rubber and then makes such
a move, it is not a balk. end rule)
The word Directly: Is
an umpire's judgment call and there shall be no degree, angle,
or limitation as to what is and isn't directly, other than the
Intent of the Balk. The balk is meant to prevent the pitcher
from illegally deceiving the base runner. The pitcher will
occasionally try to catch a runner off guard in order to
prevent possibilities such as stealing a base or getting too
much of a lead off a base.
Penalty. In all cases, the penalty for a balk is a single base
awarded to all runners (but not the batter). This penalty is
always charged to the pitcher.
Quick list . Below is a quick list of 19 ways to balk. Of
course, for a more complete explanation get the Baseball Field
Guide, available at Amazon and other booksellers.
1. Interrupt his pitching motion, perhaps the most common way
2. Fail to come to a complete stop during the set position.
3. Fail to step toward and ahead of a throw.
4. Fail to have both hands on the ball once he’s in the set
5. Pitch while his pivot foot is not touching the rubber.
6. Pitch while his head is not facing the batter.
7. Fake a throw to first base. Once he makes a motion to throw
to first base he must complete it.
8. Fake or complete a throw to an unoccupied base.
9. Make a pitching motion without completing the pitch.
10. Make a quick pitch. A pitcher must not pitch before the
batter is ready.
11. Fake a pitch.
12. Drop the ball while on the rubber.
13. Disengage the rubber improperly.
14. Delay of game. This is a judgment call by the umpire, if
he believes a pitcher is intentionally delaying the game.
15. Come to the set position twice.
16. Change from one pitching position to the other without
disengaging the rubber.
17. Pitch using a tampered ball, unless the team at bat chooses
to accept the play that ensued.
Balks caused by other players:
18. Catcher or other player tries to block a runner attempting
to score from third base by stealing home, or during a squeeze
19. Catcher outside the catcher’s box during an intentional
walk. The catcher must be in his box at the beginning of a
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