Yahoo! Sports reported last week that Major League Baseball (MLB) was considering expanding the balk rule to include the infamous fake to third-throw to first move. MLB and the playing rules committee have agreed to make this play a balk, but the Player’s Union vetoed it for further review, but this rule can come into play as early as next season.
The balk is already one of the most, if not the most, controversial rules filled with grey areas and judgement calls. In section eight of the official rule book under “PItchers”, the word balk appears 14 times. If you talk to 10 baseball “experts” you might get five different answers. Everyone has a different line of what is, and what is not, a balk. Why muddy up the waters even more?
Adding to the absurdity of this rule is that the move hardly ever works. It might have worked 10 times in the 140 years of baseball. It’s not a move that is supposed to work at the Major League level. It is simply a move by the pitcher to let the runners know the he knows they are there. Another reason is does not work is because they have seen it since Little League. It fooled them then. It’s a great way for young pitchers to get anxious runners out at first when they are in a tight spot.
In his article for Yahoo! Sports, Kevin Kaduk points out that the move is unfair to left-handed pitchers because they cannot fake a throw to first without being called for a balk. It is ridiculous to change a long standing rule in baseball that would only apply to very few circumstances that also almost never results in an out. It would be like right-handed pitchers complaining that it i unfair that lefties can more easily pick off runners at first base.
If this goes through, along with the expansion of the playoffs, 2013 will be a very different MLB, and not for the better.