Fatalistic today which sucks as it belies my usual easy-going nature. Fatalistic for a few weeks now which sucks as I have a family to take care of and I really need to do my job better.
Joe Morgan continues to piss me off. Baseball season is a glorious time. Spring. Renewal. A chance for the Braves to break my heart yet again. A year the Gamecocks will get back to the CWS. A time for late afternoon beer drinking in the sun. A couple of boys who are just getting to the age where the rules can start to be explained. A wife content to sit with me and soak up the atmosphere.
But, as always, I have to put up with Joe Morgan complaining about something. This time, it is bemoaning the stupid play that every pitcher at every level uses of faking a throw to third, then wheeling and trying to pick a runner off of first. On opening night, Morgan insisted this is a balk as the pitcher was trying to “deceive” the base runner. The rulebook doesn’t say that is the standard for a violation of the balk rule though. The only mention of deception is in the “comments” to the rule wherein it states as follows:
Comment: Umpires should bear in mind that the purpose of the balk rule is to prevent the pitcher from deliberately deceiving the base runner. If there is doubt in the umpire’s mind, the “intent” of the pitcher should govern
If Morgan wants to make deception the standard to enforcement, then they have to call a balk every time Andy Petite throws to first and picks off a runner. Obviously, Petite has deceived the runner by way of his excellent pick-off move. It is obviously not a balk though as Petite is following the rule as long as he steps directly towards first and completes the throw without first moving his non-pivot foot behind the rubber nor makes “any motion naturally associated with his pitch” before throwing to the base. Of course Petite is making some motion naturally associated with his pitch as he enters the stretch the same way whether he is going to throw to the plate or to a base and also begins his motion the same way. There would not be many pick-offs though if pitchers were required to do every aspect of their delivery differently if they intended to try to pick off a runner. The restriction then, only kicks in once the pitcher’s motion start towards the plate. As long as the pitcher stays within that framework, he may deceive the runner to the best of his ability. In short, “deception” is defined in the rule in that what constitutes deception is clearly spelled out. Faking a throw to third while your foot is on the rubber is not a balk even though “faking” would normally by considered a deception by anyone’s definition. You may then turn and throw to first or even fake a throw as long as you take your foot off the rubber before doing so. The comments state as such:
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.
Morgan wants to pull deception out of the comments and use it as the basis for his argument. If he wants to do that, how can he ignore the comment as stated above? I know there are many Morgan haters out there and I hate to join in but he becomes insufferable so often. Maybe its because my some of my childhood heroes have disappointed me so often (thank you Pete and OJ) that I am tearing those who haven’t done anything wrong other than being annoying. It just make you wonder how one could be so wrong about such seemingly simplistic situation could be right about anything. (Joe Morgan has forgotten more about baseball than I will ever know. He is an all-time great and one of my childhood heroes from my childhood team-The Big Red Machine.)
My last observation on this is just to say that if a runner on first actually gets picked off by such a move, they should be fined a game’s pay. C’mon! You are playing major league baseball and have seen every pitcher since pony league try this play. If you get caught, don’t hide in the rule book. Hang your head in shame.
That being said, I still don’t understand why basketball refs don’t call a technical foul on a player who, when going out of bounds, intentionally throws the ball at an opposing player in an attempt to make the ball go off of them and out of bounds. I am sure they would call one if a player bounced one off of an opposing player’s head while on the court. What makes that any different? I guess it will take a couple of broken noses before they look at that rule again.
I’m running large at 2/5 NL. Meh. Fatalism sucks.