Got a balk called the other night. My pitcher was told that he cannot place his foot- his free foot, on the second base side of an invisible line intersecting first base and the back of the rubber and then from there bring his foot towards home to come set.

My pitcher has a great pickoff move to first where he will come and stand facing the batter with his pivot foot touching his plate and his other foot towards first base. From this position he can easily pickoff the runner at first by suddenly just taking a small step with his free foot and firing over to first. From that position he comes set in one motion bringing his foot around to point towards home and bringing his hand and glove together all at the same time. Sometimes when my pitcher first takes his spot on the mound and touches his plate facing the batter with a runner on first he will place his foot barely on the second base side of that invisible line. After that when he comes set he gets called for a balk. Why is it a balk? I am not understanding why it is a balk.
Original Post

In the set position, the free (non-pivot) foot must be in front of the front edge of the rubber. It can be towards 1st base, but the entire foot must be in front of the rubber. Also, from the set, the ENTIRE pivot foot is supposed to be in contact with the rubber, but this is often overlooked due to the condition of some of the mounds.
Officially, he has not yet come to the "set position" though as his hand and glove have not come together.
Fed uses the term set for both the strtch and set position. What Dash is saying is he has to have his free foot in front of the rubber in the stretch position. Placing it behind the rubber is illegal.
He is in either the set or the windup position as soon as he intentionally contacts the rubber. The feet determine which position he is in, and which rules apply.
so, if I read it right- they say he is in the "windup" when and only when he places his foot on the backwards side of the rubber (one inch in back of rubber) while his pivot is touching the rubber, but if it is just an inch forward then it is in the "set" position, and this all regardless of whether his hands have come together. So if this is true then the balk call happens when he changes his position from windup (foot in back of rubber) to the set position when he brings his forward foot to a stop in front of him?

BTW, we go off of pony rules which are pretty much mlb rules.
If it is determined he is in the windup, the only way he can legally switch to the set position is to disengage the rubber by stepping back with the pivot foot. If he does not it is a balk.
But according to the official mlb rules, it defines that a pitcher is neither in the legal "windup" or "set position" until he has brought is two hands together. Here is what it defines as the windup-

"When a pitcher holds the ball with both hands in front of his body, with his pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate and his other foot free, he will be considered in the Windup Position."

And here is what it defines as the "set position"-

"The Set Position. Set Position shall be indicated by the pitcher when he stands facing the batter with his pivot foot in contact with, and his other foot in front of, the pitcher’s plate, holding the ball in both hands in front of his body and coming to a complete stop."

So, interpreting the rules, it cannot be determined which position he is in until he brings his hands together in his mit. So therefore, it seems that the pitcher can place his free foot anywhere before he comes set without penalty of a balk.

Am I wrong?
You are not really wrong in OBR. Because of the rule change this year you will see some hybrid stances that will be hard to tell unil he does something to show you, come set or start his wind-up. Now some pitchers bring their hands together as they settle into the wind-up.
In Fed he rules are a litle more cut and dried, so you shouldn't have as much problem. Also, in Fed, you can't pick from the wind-up.
quote:
Originally posted by dash_riprock:
He is in either the set or the windup position as soon as he intentionally contacts the rubber. The feet determine which position he is in, and which rules apply.

Wait for the presentation in the windup
Each F1 has a presentation
Usually this is hands together
Feet alone determining the windup
Can lead to many technical, unneccesary balk calls
quote:
Originally posted by Brilliant Mind:
quote:
Originally posted by dash_riprock:
He is in either the set or the windup position as soon as he intentionally contacts the rubber. The feet determine which position he is in, and which rules apply.

Wait for the presentation in the windup
Each F1 has a presentation
Usually this is hands together
Feet alone determining the windup
Can lead to many technical, unneccesary balk calls

BM - Could you explain please? Presentation - does that mean where his hands are when he takes signs? Examples of unnecessary/technical balk calls?

FED 6.1.1...The position of the feet determine whether he will pitch from the windup or the set position.

Say F1 has his free foot across the rubber (technically in the wind-up position), but hasn't done his presentation yet. R1 sees F1 in the windup (determined by his feet) and knows F1 can't throw over without first stepping off, so he takes a bigger lead. Can F1 step and throw to pick R1 because he hasn't done his presentation yet? Would that be a technical/unnecessary balk?
Last edited by dash_riprock
I believe one of the problems that exists is that high school and college rules have very "definate" different rules on what classifies a balk over mlb rules. For instance, in our little league I teach our lefty to pitch from the windup when he has a runner on third because he can just step towards third and throw from his windup. So many coaches think we go off of high school rules that they tell their kids to get this huge lead as soon as they see my pitcher in the windup. They do not realize that my pitcher does not have to first step backwards off the rubber with his pivot foot to make the pickoff throw.

This is a case where we have high school kids umpiring the game and have a different criteria for what a balk is over the real rules.

It seems as if I could protest the call of my pitcher of placing his foot to the side and slightly in back of the rubber because he has not officially came into his legal pitching position according to mlb rules.
Generally the easiest way to teel the difference is in the wind-up the pivot foot should be facing the plate, no matter where the free foot is located. In the stretch the foot faces either first or third depending on the hand of the pitcher.
so then, my son places his foot more pointing towards third than home (rhp). Does this mean that it shouldn't matter where he initially places his free foot (behind and off to the side of the rubber) because it is assumed that he is in a"stretch" position- a preliminary position a pitcher goes through before coming "set"? For instance-

We all know that most pitchers while in the stretch before coming set will place their free foot in a slightly different location than when they come set. As a pitcher goes from his "stretch" to the set position he will often move his free foot to a different location. This being so, where he initially places his free foot while in the "stretch" shouldn't matter if both the batter, runner, and umpire realizes he is in the stretch phase before he comes set, knowing that from that stretch position he will come set in one motion and that the runner can then plan on getting his bigger lead at that point without deception.
I'm OK with that as long as his hand is at his side before the stretch. The intent of the rule is to allow the runner to know when the pitcher is has come set. Most of the relevant stuff is at the end of the stretch.
Last edited by dash_riprock
I agree with you on that dash.

The balk call can be very hard to call but with a good umpire it becomes quite simple. It is interesting in MLB games that pitchers can vary quite greatly in their different stretch sequences and windups and no balk is called but yet get into a little league game and the balk will get called for little things like the placing of the free foot. It seems that a good umpire will be the one who only calls a balk when the pitcher does something "specific" in breaking the pitching rules like throwing to a base before stepping towards it.

The interesting part is that the balk call is kind of left up to the umpires discretion. I was watching a MLB game a few years back and the pitcher was called for a balk because he had a double foot plant after he came set. The pitcher however did this everytime in his set position. His previous start he wasn't called for the balk. According to the specific rules it is not a balk because he broke none of the rules specifying what a balk is.

It most likely is a tradition thing passed along the baseball community. If a really good umpire calls a balk on a pitcher and explains himself to some degree of professionalism, whether right or not, it becomes the law in small baseball communities. Personally i believe that most balk calls could be protested and won on the basis alone of umpires not having a clue on the intent and purpose of the balk ruling.

My son will pitch sometimes and alter his rythm and motion with runners on just to keep them guessing. Because there is not a rule on how many different ways a pitcher can have motions in his stretch position and also his motion after coming set, I think it is good baseball teaching to teach pitchers how to have multiple motions at differing speeds to help keep runners from getting to far of a lead and stealing. A good pitcher will have enough legal deceptions in his arsenal to keep baserunners from getting comfortable.

I had an opposing coach complain once that it must be a balk by my pitcher for him to sometimes after coming set and starting his pitching motion, to have more of a turn of the body to second and then look a runner back at second right in the middle of his windup. He complained that his runner was being decieved because he thought that he was going to throw to second base instead of pitch the ball. I stated that was just good skills by the pitcher and bad knowledge by the baserunner.

Anyways...thanks.
"Got a balk called the other night. My pitcher was told that he cannot place his foot- his free foot, on the second base side of an invisible line intersecting first base and the back of the rubber and then from there bring his foot "towards" home to come set."

Let's square this away: There are TWO LEGAL pitching postions.
1. Wind Up
2. Set.
There is no, none, zip, nada, nil, such thing as, "the stretch" as a definition of a "pitching, position". Period, throw stretch out the window, it is something a pitcher can do prior to coming set, not a description of what his status is.

I don't know where this invisible line comes from (I just can't see it":')
May just be a reference the umpire used to judge what F1 was up too, and a way to communicate what he was seeing/meaning to you and the pitcher?
The only invisible lines I know of are:
1. that one between 1st and 3rd in FED.
2. 45* one from somewhere on the mound running off towards a mid point between 1B-HP and 3B-HP.
3. That one fence line extended designating OOP area.
4. The one that projects from the Foul Line to the heavens.
5. Oh, yeah and those ones around the BB.

OBR; 2. Definitions: WIND UP POSITION is one of the two legal pitching positions.

As mentioned previously; when F1 contacts the rubber, the umpire must judge his status. Wind up or Stretch. Sounds like OP, the umpire judged F1 to be in the WU, and is calling the balk for the "forward step" of the FF, which I'd agree with.

EX: Pitcher in the wind up, steps with his free foot towards home, he's begun, committed, to pitch. As soon as he stops/replants the FF, balk. Or has stepped forward to go into the stretch, which he can't do. From the wind to the stretch, uh, uh.

Lets pick this apart a bit..
OBR; 8.01 (a) The Windup Position. The pitcher shall stand facing the batter, his pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate and the other foot free.
(Now I ask you, what do you consider your F1 to be in the OP?)
(a) continued:
From this position any natural movement associated with his delivery of the ball to the batter commits him to the pitch without interruption or alteration. He shall not raise either foot from the ground, except that in his "actual delivery" of the ball to the batter, he may take one step backward, and one step forward with his free foot.
(Now if F1 is in the WU and lifts the FF what has to happen?) Pitch or step toward the base he's throwing to, your guy, stopped.
(a) continued:
When a pitcher holds the ball with both hands in front of his body, with his pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate and his other foot free, he will be considered in the Windup Position.
(Consider: F1, PV in front of, in contact with rubber, FF clearly one foot'(12 inches) in front of PF, but towards 1B (RHer), shoulders square to HP, hmm. He can from this position pitch without penalty. His PF is in contact, the FF is free, he's holding the ball in front of him, facing the batter) he's in the WU..

Rule 8.01(a) Comment: In the Windup Position, a pitcher is permitted to have his “free” foot on the rubber, in front of the rubber, behind the rubber or off the side of the rubber.
From the Windup Position, the pitcher may:
(1) deliver the ball to the batter, or
(2) step and throw to a base in an attempt to pick-off a runner, or
(3) disengage the rubber (if he does he must drop his hand to his sides).
In disengaging the rubber the pitcher must step off with his pivot foot and not his free foot first.
He may not go into a set or stretch position—if he does it is a balk.

Now consider: F1, PF entirely in front of but touching the rubber (looks like a Stretch), but the FF is clearly behind the rubber, hmm, now it looks like WU..

Consider; PF paralell and in contact with rubber, FF clearly a foot' in front of the PF. F1 makes no joining of the hands motion, steps back with the FF, continously and smoothly goes into his wind up motion and pitches, hmmm, that looked like a wind up, okay in my book.

It sounds like he's got a nice little move from the WU, don't mess it up with the step forward.. and all is well.

I would surmise that most umpire's would judge your F1 to be in the wind up from your post. That's why he does it, right, to trick the BR's? Windup, step forward, ya better be delivering.

Is this going to long?

The SET POSITION:
(b) The Set Position. Set Position shall be indicated by the pitcher when he stands facing the batter with his pivot foot in contact with, and his other foot in front of, the pitcher’s plate, ""holding the ball in both hands in front of his body and coming to a complete stop"". From such Set Position he may deliver the ball to the batter, throw to a base or step backward off the pitcher’s plate with his pivot foot.
Set Position, the pitcher may elect to make any natural preliminary motion such as that known as “the stretch.” But if he so elects, he shall come to Set Position before delivering the ball to the batter.

In short F1's are in the WU until, stretch, or "come set".
I have only had this one umpire call him for a balk on the play. Countless umpires have never called him for a balk for two years. It all comes down really to where he placing his free foot. I know that in ncaa rules he is automatically in the windup position if he doesn't place his entire free foot ahead of the pivot foot touching the plate. So, in ncaa rules he balks because he technically goes from the windup position to the set position by moving the free foot from behind the pivot foot and then comes forward and coming to a stop.

But in MLB rules, it doesn't specify where he must place his free foot before he comes set nor does it specify what position his pivot foot or shoulders must be in in either the set or windup positions. All it states is that he must be facing the batter.

I should mention that when my son takes the mound and places his pivot foot on the plate with a runner on first that he places his foot parallel for the most part with the length of the rubber. From there his next motion is to swing the free foot towards first base and stand facing the batter to get his sign. From that position he watches out the corner of his eye until he notices he can either try a pickoff attempt or come "set" by moving both his free foot to the batter and hand to the glove all in the same motion.

I know that NCAA changed their balk ruling specifically for this reason because it was hard to discern if a pitcher was in the set position or the windup. So, in reality, pitchers were on to this and would use the deception of the runner not being able to tell if the pitcher was in a set position or the windup. Pitchers would thereby use the deception of looking like they were in the set position but have the motion associated with the windup and therefore technically they were in the windup all along.

MLB ruling does away with all of the nonsense and technicality of it because essentially every pitcher must either- 1. come "set" before they pitch or- 2. have a long pitching motion with steps and sequences known as the windup motion before they pitch. It then shouldn't matter where the pitcher initially places his free foot as the runner should not theoretically break for second without being decieved until the pitcher is committed to throwing home. It also appears by MLB rules that the windup position is clearly identified only when the two hands come together in front of him. It seems then that the technicality of the deception of ruling whether he is in the windup or set position is removed by watching the pitcher pitch and then deciding if he was intentionally trying to appear as if he is in the windup and then go to a set position.

The position alone of the free foot unlike ncaa rules, according to MLB rules, is not a factor in deciding which of the two legal positions the pitcher is in. The preliminary placement of feet, arms and direction of shoulders does not determine which legal position he is in until the hands come together. Once the hands come together, and only then, can it be determined if he is in the set or windup position.
quote:
Originally posted by dash_riprock:
quote:
Originally posted by Brilliant Mind:
Wait for the presentation in the windup
Each F1 has a presentation
Usually this is hands together
Feet alone determining the windup
Can lead to many technical, unneccesary balk calls

BM - Could you explain please? Presentation - does that mean where his hands are when he takes signs?

Rarely as who is to say what the signs are to determine when they are taken?

quote:
Examples of unnecessary/technical balk calls?

F1 is receiving the ball after a pitch from F2. F1 is backingpedalling up the mound, watching F2's throw to him. He places with no intention to pitch both feet on the plate as his momentum carries him past the rubber where he can settle and then prepare for the next pitch.

quote:
FED 6.1.1...The position of the feet determine whether he will pitch from the windup or the set position.
F1 has his free foot across the rubber (technically in the wind-up position), but hasn't done his presentation yet. R1 sees F1 in the windup (determined by his feet) and knows F1 can't throw over without first stepping off, so he takes a bigger lead. Can F1 step and throw to pick R1 because he hasn't done his presentation yet? Would that be a technical/unnecessary balk?

The position of the feet determine a windup or set position, they do not determine that F1 is under the rules of the windup of set position...until, imo, F1 presents himself as have taken that position in the normal course of his pitching. See example above.

Solid umpiring involves decisions that are, and always will be, outside of the severe limitations of the rules as written and interpreted. IMO, one important judgment point in determining the quality of an umpire is his ability to make decisions based on the familiarity of a player's (F1) movement patterns. Most umpires "know" when F1 is ready to pitch, they do not use or need the limitations of the rules to determine his intent and human behavior.

Many umpires do not have this capability, they replace high quality decision making with forced rules interpretations. They soon find themselves in trouble as they escalate up the ladder in the level of baseball they officiate. They either refuse, or fail to acknowledge, the customs of the game, the personal intricacies, the observed human behaviors, the history of applying rules vs rules ignored. Or they simply do not comprehend the undeniable reality that baseball is played both within and without the rules.

I find, often, these umpires were also players of low talent, or have not played at any significant level..or played the game at all. They see the game as one sees a chalkboard; one dimensional, without flexibility, an academic pursuit in a vaccuum of horribly written rule books and rule sets. Like chemical equations, w, x and y brings, always, Z.

I feel sorry for them but I refuse to disallow the existence of the very real game that proficient coaches and advanced players share with expert umpires.
quote:
Originally posted by Brilliant Mind:

F1 is receiving the ball after a pitch from F2. F1 is backingpedalling up the mound, watching F2's throw to him. He places with no intention to pitch both feet on the plate as his momentum carries him past the rubber where he can settle and then prepare for the next pitch.

No balk there. The contact with the rubber was unintentional.

quote:

The position of the feet determine a windup or set position, they do not determine that F1 is under the rules of the windup of set position...until, imo, F1 presents himself as have taken that position in the normal course of his pitching.

The pitching rules begin when F1 intentionally contacts the rubber. At that point, F1 MUST be either in the set or windup position. Otherwise, at least in FED, you could not determine if F1 could legally step and throw to a base.

quote:
Solid umpiring involves decisions that are, and always will be, outside of the severe limitations of the rules as written and interpreted. IMO, one important judgment point in determining the quality of an umpire is his ability to make decisions based on the familiarity of a player's (F1) movement patterns. Most umpires "know" when F1 is ready to pitch, they do not use or need the limitations of the rules to determine his intent and human behavior.

Many umpires do not have this capability, they replace high quality decision making with forced rules interpretations. They soon find themselves in trouble as they escalate up the ladder in the level of baseball they officiate. They either refuse, or fail to acknowledge, the customs of the game, the personal intricacies, the observed human behaviors, the history of applying rules vs rules ignored. Or they simply do not comprehend the undeniable reality that baseball is played both within and without the rules.

I find, often, these umpires were also players of low talent, or have not played at any significant level..or played the game at all. They see the game as one sees a chalkboard; one dimensional, without flexibility, an academic pursuit in a vaccuum of horribly written rule books and rule sets. Like chemical equations, w, x and y brings, always, Z.

I feel sorry for them but I refuse to disallow the existence of the very real game that proficient coaches and advanced players share with expert umpires.

For the most part, I agree with you. However, be careful about the "personal intricacies" stuff. The rules apply equally to all pitchers, whatever quirks they have (except for Luis Tiant). Just because a pitcher does the same thing every time, it does not allow him to violate a rule.

Are you suggesting that it can't be determined which position the pitcher is using until he brings his hands together?
pilsner,

I am suggesting that until the pitcher makes a motion determining which of the two legal positions he is in, it does not matter where he places arms. shoulders or feet. I am suggesting that at the mlb level it is unneccesary to define which position he is in when he immediately places his pivot foot on the rubber because balk rules still apply whether he has come to a legal pitching position or not.

Having to determine which position the pitcher is in in his preliminary motions is kind of redundant because he must- 1. still bring his hands together, whether he comes set or goes into the windup, and- 2. must still pitch in a continuous and unaltered condition. So, I believe it is unneccesary and not required for the umpire to assume which legal position the pitcher will take when he first places his foot on the mound because whether he is set or in the windup he can make the same exact moves to pick runners off- (ie; stepping with free foot towards a base and then throwing to that base) until his natural motion commits him to pitch to the batter.

Umpires at the MLB level could really care less on the placement of body appendages for pitchers because they know and realize that once a pitcher starts making his natural motions to pitch it can then be easily ascertained which of the two legal positions they are in. Personally I do not understand why high school and college rules have to make it so confusing and technical.
I have gone back and reread the entire thread. It seems that you are trying to get a set position with the free foot behind the rubber slightly. This is not legal. To be be in the set position the free foot has to be in front of the rubber. You can use an open stance so he can look at first. If the foot is behind the rubber and you try to go to a set, then it will be a balk for changing from the wind-up to the set.
The reason NCAA and down have more balks called is because the players aren't as skilled as MLB players. In pro ball the pitchers know what they can do and so do the runners. Usually when you see a balk called in MLB it is very slight because they ae held to a vey high level. In lower ball the pitchers do dumb things, sloppy things and crazy things that coaches try to circumvent the rule. Add to that, umps that aren't as skilled in indentifying or calling balks and all kinds of things can happen.
Just because your pitcher hasn't been called for two yeaes doesn't mean he hasn't balked. It mearly means he hasn't seen an ump that knows the proper call or has the confidence to make it.
Pitchers who are called for balks at the MLB level are viewed as

1) Morons (moronic, mentally lazy, should know better)
2) Pressing the rules to the max (intelligent)
quote:

I am suggesting that until the pitcher makes a motion determining which of the two legal positions he is in, it does not matter where he places arms. shoulders or feet.

Having to determine which position the pitcher is in in his preliminary motions is kind of redundant because he must- 1. still bring his hands together, whether he comes set or goes into the windup, and- 2. must still pitch in a continuous and unaltered condition. So, I believe it is unneccesary and not required for the umpire to assume which legal position the pitcher will take when he first places his foot on the mound because whether he is set or in the windup he can make the same exact moves to pick runners off- (ie; stepping with free foot towards a base and then throwing to that base) until his natural motion commits him to pitch to the batter.

Umpires at the MLB level could really care less on the placement of body appendages for pitchers because they know and realize that once a pitcher starts making his natural motions to pitch it can then be easily ascertained which of the two legal positions they are in.

Nicely said, 'Bread, a fully operational synopis of how an umpire should view and call the balk.

Much is made of the "intent to deceive" as the basis for calling balks with novitiate umpires, This underlying theorem somewhere gets lost as play and umpires advance.

Pitchers must pitch to batters who are ready to hit. Pitchers must follow rules that do not severely reduce runners opportunities to advance

My pitcher is 12 years old.

I agree that using NCAA rules he does balk. But our league uses Pony rules which are pretty much MLB rules.

In my rule book (official MLB rules) it defines very simply both legal pitching positions- the windup and the set position. It seems (very vague at best) that until the pitcher brings his hands together he has not yet attained a "legal" pitching position, whether he goes into the windup or comes set. In the balk section it defines what a balk is. The closest thing it says to my son on balking is that- "he may not go into a set or stretch position- if he does it is a balk" (rule 8.01(a)comment)

The problem however is that under 8.01(a), it defines that the the pitcher will be considered to be in the "windup" when he has both hands together in front of him.

So, according to the rulebook, the pitcher is not in any assumed "legal" pitching position until he brings his hands together in front of him either in the set or the windup position. Until that point when he brings his hands together he is neither in the set or windup position, and as such he cannot be penalized with a balk by going from an "assumed" windup position to the set position.
I guess what I am really saying is that it doesn't define in the rulebook where a pitcher must place his free foot while in his preliminary motions before coming to a set position. Sure, ncaa and high school rules are different and often do specify where a pitcher must place the free foot, but they also define indifferently when the pitcher comes set or is said to be in the windup. pure and simple- mlb balk rules are somewhat entirely different than ncaa balk rules and as such, you must separate the differences when leagues play by one or the other set of rules.

I don't see what is difficult in Pony rules. What you are trying to do is do a set with the free foot behind the rubber. This is clearly spelled out in OBR. It says the free foot has to be in front. The only ambiguous part is the new rule that allows the free foot to be in front in the wind-up. There is no change to the set rule.
Also, in the wind-up it says the pitcher must face the batter. This is where the foot placement comes from. You can't face the batter with your foot sideways.
Last edited by Michael S. Taylor
quote:
Originally posted by dash_riprock:
For the most part, I agree with you. However, be careful about the "personal intricacies" stuff. The rules apply equally to all pitchers, whatever quirks they have (except for Luis Tiant).

Your example of Tiant is an extreme one but highlights the point that the rules may be designed to apply equally and fairly but they often are not.

quote:
Just because a pitcher does the same thing every time, it does not allow him to violate a rule.

Without specific evidences we could review, I cannot agree or disagree. I can unequivocally state there are pitchers who consistently violate rules and because of either who they are or the consistency and relative unimportance of the violation, they skate.

To match your Tiant, I put forward Gaylord Perry, King of the Foreign Substance.

You indicated that for two years no one called a balk when he used the move of going to the set position when his free foot started behind the rubber. This would mean that when he was 10 and 11 no balk was ever called somehow validating the move as legal. Then at the age of 12 an umpire called a balk with the explanation that the pitcher changed from the wind up position to the set position without disengaging first. This balk call, by the way, is one that I and several others who posted in this thread , completely support. I didn't read any response that supported the pitcher's move as legal.
You made mention that, for the most part, you have high school kids officiating the games. I'd be inclined to believe that for two years you had umps who simply didn't recognize (or didn't care) what your pitcher was doing so they didn't call a balk.

Would you explain to me how a relatively simple balk question regarding a 12 year old evolved into a philosophical discussion about splitting hairs in the pitching rules and how umps should view or ply their trade with regards to major league level pitchers?
pilsner,

Most of the umpires that ump our games are grown-ups who have been umping for many years. not one of them has ever questioned my sons motion before coming set. the umpire who called hum for the balk i give credit to because he certainly knows the high school balk rules pretty well.

another thing i should mention is that my son has never ever pitched from the windup in any game. he always pitches from the stretch. every umpire in both leagues, especially the one who called him for the balk knows this. they all know he will come set every time before the pitch, so there is no deception at all over whether he is trying to trick kids into them thinking he is in the windup when really he is in the stretch. all of the kids know he is in the stretch when he first places his pivot foot in front of and parallel to the pitching rubber. almost every base coach will also warn their baserunner not to get too far off the base because, as they all say- "he hasn't come set yet".

The problem as i see it is that this umpire doesnt call the balk when his free foot is an inch more forward even though he still looks the same, has the same motion, etc. so really it technically comes down to where he is initially placing the free foot, which by mlb rules (the rules our leagues play by) doesn't really matter at all.

I will say once again that by high school and college rules that- YES he does balk! But, them rules absolutely do not apply in the leagues we play in.

I guess my question to the umpire should of been for a clarification in the rulebook as to why he is balking. Surely if it is called a balk, it must be defined in the rulebook as such. The technicality of where he initially placed his foot is not defined in the rulebook. And certainly, the umpire knew that he wasn't in the "windup" because my son never has pitched from the windup. The umpire knew he would come set and as soon as he did he threw up the arms and called him for balking. At the time I did not know specifically the exact ruling and we were ahead in the final stretch of the game anyway so I didn't dispute the call.

I guess the whole scenerio got me to thinking "philisophically" about the purpose of the balk and why the lack of defining it better in the mlb rulebook. The conclusion I came up with is that it appears that generally speaking the balk rule hasn't been nitpicked over for over a 100 years because there really is no need to do so. The rulebook defines only what it needs to as simply as it can because it is and should be very clear when a pitcher does indeed balk. The balk call should be a very clear violation of the rules that are defined, not on assumed motions or getting into the head of the pitcher to nitpick whether he is intentionally trying to cheat.

So I ask you this- according to mlb rules, why do you think he is balking? Please give me the ruling out of the book defining at what point his balk happens.
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I guess the whole scenerio got me to thinking "philisophically" about the purpose of the balk and why the lack of defining it better in the mlb rulebook. The conclusion I came up with is that it appears that generally speaking the balk rule hasn't been nitpicked over for over a 100 years because there really is no need to do so. The rulebook defines only what it needs to as simply as it can because it is and should be very clear when a pitcher does indeed balk. The balk call should be a very clear violation of the rules that are defined, not on assumed motions or getting into the head of the pitcher to nitpick whether he is intentionally trying to cheat.

Umpires tend to have endless, boring discussions about the fine details of the (balk) rule. The ones that proceed to call balks about and around these fine details end up getting the rest of the more sane umpiring world in deep poppie; those of us who see the balk rule as based primarily on allowing for the appropriate staging of actions between F1 and Rs. Specifically to keep F1s from gaining advantage in limiting lead off length, jump and the deterrence to the stolen base.

Anyone who has followed a "balker" and has to reverse the insanity with a coach who believes he now has a weapon to beat you about the head and shoulders with understands eggsactly what I mean.
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So, according to the rulebook, the pitcher is not in any assumed "legal" pitching position until he brings his hands together in front of him either in the set or the windup position. Until that point when he brings his hands together he is neither in the set or windup position, and as such he cannot be penalized with a balk by going from an "assumed" windup position to the set position.

[quote]So I ask you this- according to mlb rules, why do you think he is balking? Please give me the ruling out of the book defining at what point his balk happens.[quote]

From the wind up F1 does not have to bring his hands together. He does not have to take a step back, both are optional.

Ex: PF in front and in contact, FF in front of PF, say shoulder width apart..ball in hand at F1's side, F1, can simply step to HP and pitch per OBR
(Picture a slide step from the wind up, it would be legal per OBR) as long as it's not a quick pitch.

So, there is nothing "assumed". Very simply, F1 isn't "set", then, "he is, in the WU".

From the WU a "step forward" commits F1 to pitch.

So the balk was probably correct, just not, IMO for the reason as per the "invisible line explanation" you were offered. (Maybe FED or NCAA, but not OBR)

Had the umpire said, "coach, F1 from the wind up, stepped forward to the stretch/set position"

or

"coach, from the wind up F1 stepped forward and did not complete the pitch"

8.01 (a)
(a) The Windup Position. The pitcher shall stand facing the batter, his pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate and the other foot free. "From this position any natural movement associated with his delivery of the ball to the batter commits him to the pitch without interruption or alteration."
(here is where he should have been balked) He shall not raise either foot from the ground, except that in his actual delivery of the ball to the batter, he may take one step backward, and one step forward with his free foot. "NOT FORWARD THEN, BACKWARD.
When a pitcher holds the ball with both hands in front of his body, with his pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate and his other foot free, he will be considered in the Windup Position.
Rule 8.01(a) Comment: In the Windup Position, a pitcher is permitted to have his “free” foot on the rubber, in front of the rubber, behind the rubber or off the side of the rubber.
From the Windup Position, (or this is where he should have been balked)
He may not go into a set or stretch position—if he does it is a balk.

Assume doesn't work, consider;
F1 catches the ball from F2, contacts the front of the rubber with the PF, FF in front of the PF, hands at his sides, ball in hand. It could be assumed he is in the STRETCH position, but then he does the following:
Steps to home and pitches. Wow, he just pitched without coming set, without a discernable wind up motion, R1 was standing on the bag waiting for him to come set, that can't be fair.. according to OBR, yes it is..

Now next pitch, R1 and BC are gonna be a bit more attentive.. 1B coach is onto this guy now, in his runners ear, "he's gonna throw from the wind up from that position, we got him this time, first motion your gone".
F1, starts what looks to be the same slide step motion as the previous pitch, he raises the FF
(runner goes), F1 then smoothly and continuously
draws his FF back, joines his hands, stops, looks at the now dead meat runner hung out, smiles at the BC, and smirks "you making assumptions bout me?"
This is a pretty simple matter, but a judgement call by the umpire, any attempt by the pitcher to decieve the player on base should be called a balk. Taking the non pivot foot behind the rubber then throwing to 1st is a balk, an attempt to decieve. I had an arguement with an umpire regarding the pointing of the foot towards home by a leftie then coming back towards 1st, any movement towards the plate without actually throwing to the plate should be a balk
The problem with calling him for a balk at the two points you described is that you "assume" he is always in the windup if he is not set. That stems to the fact that until the pitcher literally comes set with his hands in front of him -hand in glove and coming to a stop, he could be in the wu position. That of coarse makes him illegal. Rule 801(b) allows for the pitcher to make any natural motion in his stretch before he comes set. This would include the movement forwards, backwards,and even sideways of both his shoulders and free foot. So in defending my pitcher, Could I not argue that is part of his natural stretch position when he has a runner on first?

I would question the validity of an umpire to "assume" he is in the wu position just because of the free foot placement initially, especially when the previous pitch looked almost exactly identical from the stretch only this time his free foot was back one more inch. It cannot and should not always and immediately be assumed if the pitcher is in an "assumed" windup position when he steps on the mound. Let the pitcher makes all of his motions and then call him for a balk after determining if he broke a rule from either a set or windup position.

One of the problems is that with so many different pitchers pitching from various motions these days, mlb rules relaxed the foot placement and wording of the two positions because it is not necessary to "have to" assume one of the two positions for an umpire the second that pf touches the rubber. Umpires should wait it out and then see if he is not following the rules.

Most umpires view my son as being in the stretch when he takes the rubber with a runner on first, mostly because they watch him come smoothly and in one motion to the set position. The motion does nothing to mimick the motion of a pitcher going into his windup. If my son was to just start to pitch from his position he would most assuredly get called for a balk for not coming set from his stretch position.

I guess then what is really needing answered is how to tell the difference between a pitchers stretch position (pre-set) and his windup position. Is it the placement of the free foot? Or what? Does the pivot foot being parallel to the rubber sell him being in a stretch position? Or is it that he has never ever pitched from the windup and therefore the umpire knows he will always come set?
I do not seem to be able to convince you that what your son is doing is illegal, but let me ask this question. Why would you teach him to pitch from a position that you admit is a balk in HS and is likely to get him balked from an ump that really understands the rules. Is the one in one hundred pick-off worth it. Plus he will have to change when he gets older which is counterproductive. If he never pitches from the wind-up then the local are used to him and just choose to let him go. I have seen that happen and I disagree with it. The kids should be learning proper technics at a young age, not little tricks that they can't use later. It is like LL's allowing pitchers to use a wind-up from the set. They say it's fine because runners can't lead off. I say it's bad because they use it for 4 to 6 years and then have to change when they hit 90ft. My point has always been," How is a pitcher successful, consistancy." They do the same mechanics everytime. Don't teach bad habits, they just have to break them later.
My son never was taught that by anyone- he taught himself because he undersatnds the rules. After that we then worked on and modified his motions within the rules to keep runners from stealing. It is sad that more coaches do not work as hard at deploying different motions that keep runners scared and close to the bag.

I would say that you use whatever tools that the rules allow for to play honestly while keeping runners from advancing.

My son and the catcher work very hard on keeping the runner on first, and any way to do this within the rules should be employed in my opinion. Like teaching one of our lefty pitchers to use the windup with a runner on third so that he can pick the unsuspecting runner off while he is in the windup- it is within the rules and as such should be employed to use whatever legal means necessary to pick off runners or keep them from advancing or getting to big of a lead.
I completely agree with using the rules to the fullest extent and to exploit other coaches' lack of the rules. I still think from your description that what he is doing is a balk. But even if it isn't then it will be at other levels and is to his disadvantage to use something that he will have to change later. The lefthander using the wind-up to hold runners is completely in the rules but he will not be able to do that in high school. The difference is it will only take a tool from him not change his mechanics as in your son's case.
I agree with you on it not working to his ultimate advantage because he can not use that move when he gets to high school a couple years from now.

It is interesting you brought up mechanics here. Just as an aside note and not related to this thread, my son has always pitched from the stretch. When he was first invited to be on a travelingf team a couple years ago, the first thing the coach tried to change with him was to get him pitching from the windup- to help his mechanics or velocity or something like that, can't remember for sure. My son tried and got used to pitching from the windup in practice with no noticable differenc in either mechanics or velocity improvements. The first game he was pitched in on his traveling team he went into his windup and just looked really uncomfortable. Anyways, I convinced the coach after that first pitch to let him pitch from the stretch which he oblidged to. Ever since then every pitch he has thrown has been from the stretch.

He has always been the starting pitcher on his traveling teams he has played on and much to the surprise of some of the players and coaches, he pitches like a reliever and not a starter (from the stretch only). My son in his defense has always stated that he is able to pitch longer and be more consistant because as he says-"I don't use as much energy in unecessary steps and motions when I pitch". My son is funny that way, and yet I think he is correct in his analysis of his own form and mechanics.

Just kind of proves to me that sometimes we learn more from watching our kids about mechanics and stuff than for them to learn from us trying to teach them!
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Originally posted by Michael S. Taylor:
I completely agree with using the rules to the fullest extent and to exploit other coaches' lack of the rules. I still think from your description that what he is doing is a balk.

Agree completely.