Pickoff move to 2nd with man on 1st

First time posting here, I've lurked the boards a long time and its a great read. But I have a question. Kid on 1st, Pitcher from the stretch and crosses the knee but keeps going over the rubber and steps towards second (inside move), the runner on first doesn't go, is this a balk? NFHS rules.

I ask because I have seen it once or twice except it kid went and the pitcher had guessed right that the kid was straight stealing. Basically super aggressive team who thinks they can run on the catcher. Just curious if the kid didn't go.

 

Original Post

Depends. Under OBR rules, the determination is supposed to be made by the umpire as to whether he demonstrated an attempt to steal. For example, simply feinting in a way as to make the pitcher reasonably think he was trying to steal is enough to keep it from being a balk. Before the comment, umpires used to have a variety of ideas on the subject - everything from had to actually be going to going half way, etc.

 

Rule 8.05(d): The pitcher, while touching his plate, throws, or feints a throw to an unoccupied base, except for the purpose of making a play

Rule 8.05(d) Comment: When determining whether the pitcher throws or feints a throw to an
unoccupied base for the purpose of making a play, the umpire should consider whether a runner on the previous base demonstrates or otherwise creates an impression of his intent to advance to such unoccupied base.

SElkins45 posted:

I am referencing this thread with the rule:

http://community.hsbaseballweb...ckoff-move-to-second

 

Keep in mind that this thread is outdated with 1) the addition of the 8.05(d) comment and 2) OBR rules now adding third base to the "no-feint" rule. However, NCAA and high school rules did not add that. Some youth tournaments will use high school rules, but also disallow the feint to third, so check your rule set.

Yea I understand it is outdated and we have added the no feint and then throw to another base. But what I am referencing is the pitcher stepping over and right to 2nd base, in the instance that there is no steal he doesn't have to throw but does that also induce a balk?

I've never seen it called a balk but I've also never seen it used where the kid didn't steal. But it could be an interesting tactic against a very aggressive team...

Have personally seen a guy use it ONCE to catch a really aggressive runner, swung over and stepped towards second, as soon as he crossed the knee the runner went (high school). And have had a guy who played college said he did in once with a guy on 1st, tight game, and wanted to see if they were going to bunt him over. Used the inside move and just stared at the batter as when he crossed the knee the guy dropped the bat to bunt.

In my experience ... if the runner is going / feinting going to second ... then no balk.  If the runner is not going - balk.    

 

ART. 4 . . . Balk. If there is a runner or runners, any of the following acts by a pitcher while he is touching the pitcher’s plate is a balk:

b. failing to step with the non-pivot foot directly toward a base (occupied or unoccupied) when throwing or feinting there in an attempt to put out, or drive back a runner; or throwing or feinting to any unoccupied base when it is not an attempt to put out or drive back a runner;

 

 

The answer would be, no, he doesn't have to be stealing for this to be a legal move, but he does have to have made a move that would have created "an impression" that he was trying to steal. So, feinting and then not going wouldn't make this a balk. IN addition, FED rules simply say it is a balk to throw to an unoccupied base except to make a play "or drive a runner back." That one's left wide open for umpire interpretation.

NewUmpire posted:

In my experience ... if the runner is going / feinting going to second ... then no balk.  If the runner is not going - balk.    

 

ART. 4 . . . Balk. If there is a runner or runners, any of the following acts by a pitcher while he is touching the pitcher’s plate is a balk:

b. failing to step with the non-pivot foot directly toward a base (occupied or unoccupied) when throwing or feinting there in an attempt to put out, or drive back a runner; or throwing or feinting to any unoccupied base when it is not an attempt to put out or drive back a runner;

 

 

Looks like I was answering at the same time. On another note, I've always been bothered by the fact that FED rules are not readily available to anyone who wants to see them. Access to rules for a high school sport shouldn't be limited to those who will pay for them.

Great question...in my opinion the pitcher is trying to drive the runner back even if he is not stealing...so no balk even if runner is not going.  I can see how it could be interpreted otherwise though.  Interesting...I always thought it was a balk period to throw to an unoccupied base...use the inside move with no runner on second base.  I learned something new on this one!

Ok so you don't need to throw to second on the inside move but you can't feint and throw it over to 1st, so it would just come back to the umpire interpretation if he thinks the man on 1st gave an indication he would steal?

 

I'll have to ask some of my local guys and see what their opinion of it is, that really determines if we can do it during a game haha

SElkins45 posted:

Ok so you don't need to throw to second on the inside move but you can't feint and throw it over to 1st, so it would just come back to the umpire interpretation if he thinks the man on 1st gave an indication he would steal?

 

I'll have to ask some of my local guys and see what their opinion of it is, that really determines if we can do it during a game haha

Well, as practicality, you could because you're likely to have disengaged on the feint to second, so now, the balk rules aren't in effect. However, no, you couldn't stay contacted to the rubber and swing around to first with a feint to second during the trip (that would be rather awkward, anyway)

As to your second point, coming from a guy who used to use this a lot in youth ball, don't expect every umpire to know this rule. However, more will be aware of it than you would think. Do, however, expect the opposing coach to blow a gasket.

As to the "drive a runner back," in the FED rules, most umpires are actually going to interpret it more like the OBR rule.

I have a lot of experience with this and it is extremely useful at lower age groups where runners steal on every pitch. However, as you get older, "guessing" correctly as to when a runner is going becomes more risk adverse. After about 12u I only used it in two situations:

1) I've stolen the signs and I know for a fact he's stealing; and

2) the guy on first is a base stealing stud, quite likely to go at any time, and my battery has no chance in hell of throwing him out, anyway.

The oft offered objection against my interpretation is "well, why don't you see them use it in the majors, if it's legal?" It was tried once, that I know of, a couple of years ago with Hamilton on base, and he wasn't going. By the time you reach that level, there's almost no runner/catcher combo where you don't have at least a chance at a CS, and almost no runner where the chances of guessing he's going is any better than one in four or so, so the risk isn't worth the reward.

Thanks for the info this has been a really interesting and enlightening discussion.

And I agree the higher you get the less practical but even at our HS level you don't always have the ability at the catcher position (especially in a state where baseball can only be played April at best to August), so an extra wrinkle just to know the rules.

Here's the relevant NFHS rule.

The sixth item in the list of things that are balks in rule 6-2-4 is:

 "Failing to pitch to the batter when the entire non-pivot foot passes behind the perpendicular plane of the back edge of the pitcher's plate, except when feinting or throwing to second base in an attempt to put out a runner."

 The case book offers further clarification. If he throws the ball to second in an attempt to retire the runner who is advancing there, it is legal. If he feints the throw to second to drive back the runner who has neither feinted nor attempted an advance, it is a balk.  

Notice that under federation rules, it must be an attempt to put out the runner, not merely to drive him back. 

So, if the pitcher guesses right and could have a play at second, it's not a balk, even if he fails to throw for whatever reason (e.g., fielder hasn't moved into position).

However, if he guesses wrong, it's a balk.

As an umpire, permit me to add that I'll call the balk as soon as I see that the pitcher is neither stepping and throwing to first (which happens when the non-pivot foot clears the back of the rubber) or delivering a pitch if I haven't already seen/heard/felt the runner make a meaningful move toward second  (i.e., more than a typical secondary lead).

So the pitcher has guess right that he's stealing, and he has to guess right that he's stealing on first move.

Swampboy posted:

Here's the relevant NFHS rule.

The sixth item in the list of things that are balks in rule 6-2-4 is:

 "Failing to pitch to the batter when the entire non-pivot foot passes behind the perpendicular plane of the back edge of the pitcher's plate, except when feinting or throwing to second base in an attempt to put out a runner."

 The case book offers further clarification. If he throws the ball to second in an attempt to retire the runner who is advancing there, it is legal. If he feints the throw to second to drive back the runner who has neither feinted nor attempted an advance, it is a balk.  

Notice that under federation rules, it must be an attempt to put out the runner, not merely to drive him back. 

So, if the pitcher guesses right and could have a play at second, it's not a balk, even if he fails to throw for whatever reason (e.g., fielder hasn't moved into position).

However, if he guesses wrong, it's a balk.

As an umpire, permit me to add that I'll call the balk as soon as I see that the pitcher is neither stepping and throwing to first (which happens when the non-pivot foot clears the back of the rubber) or delivering a pitch if I haven't already seen/heard/felt the runner make a meaningful move toward second  (i.e., more than a typical secondary lead).

So the pitcher has guess right that he's stealing, and he has to guess right that he's stealing on first move.

So, basically, HS umps are taught, despite the slight difference in the wording to make a determination equivalent to that described in OBR comment 805(d). If the runner goes or feints going, the pitcher is "making a play." 

As to your last statements, I have had many umps at all levels immediately call it a balk, even when they know the rule. It's just a gut reaction and completely understandable. They correct themselves by putting the runner back on first. The pitcher loses the advantage he gained, but, at lower levels of ball, it puts an immediate end to sending the guy on first on every pitch. 

Keep in mind that this is a move kept in your back pocket for special occasions or used early in a game to send a message. You rarely need to (or really even get the opportunity) use it more than once or twice. The opposing coach - assuming the umpire is clear on the rules - gets the message pretty quick.

To make it absolutely clear, at the younger ages it's quite a useful move. With high school ages, I've used it three times in the past five year - all three times on 3-2 counts, two outs and a runner on first.

With runners on first and second, two outs and a 3-2 count, my pitchers are taught to automatically use the inside move. This slows the runners up considerably from getting a big jump.

roothog66 posted:

To make it absolutely clear, at the younger ages it's quite a useful move. With high school ages, I've used it three times in the past five year - all three times on 3-2 counts, two outs and a runner on first.

With runners on first and second, two outs and a 3-2 count, my pitchers are taught to automatically use the inside move. This slows the runners up considerably from getting a big jump.

Makes sense. That keeps them honest. You won't risk the balk. And you might get the third out.

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