Tricky baseball pitch, but is it allowed?

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/09/24/tricky-baseball-pitch-but-is-it-allowed.html

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If I was that batter, I’d happily take the strike, then fist-bump the pitcher after the game for demonstrating bad-ass wizardry and making me laugh.

Of course, if this was the World Series or some other event where large amounts of $ was on the line, I might want a second opinion :slight_smile:

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Palming the ball and making a phantom toss to a teammate in order to accomplish an easy out in the most mortifying way possible is a grand baseball tradition. This isn’t too much different.

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IANAU, though my brother was for a time. He says that this was clearly meant to distract (edited from deceive) the batter which is not allowed and that while it may not be against the rules as written, this might be a situation where the rule needs to be clarified to fit the new “crime”.

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Permitted? Most likely, depending how you interpret the rule about distraction. But it’s almost certainly less effective since the pitcher will have a harder time precisely positioning his hand on the laces. Most breaking pitches - knuckler, splitter, curve, slider, etc - are highly dependent on the grip. This stunt limits the options that keep hitter off-balance. Fewer options favor the hitter.

This might be an effective surprise a few times. Good hitters would soon take note & exploit it which is why you probably don’t see it attempted at higher levels.

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Not an expert, but if there were runners on base this would almost definitely be a balk by 6.02(a)10. No runners on base, less clear…

6.02 Pitcher Illegal Action

(a) Balks
If there is a runner, or runners, it is a balk when:

(10) The pitcher, after coming to a legal pitching position, removes one hand from the ball other than in an actual pitch, or in throwing to a base;

When he brings his hands together in front of them and then switches to the back without disengaging the rubber, that’s a balk right there.

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I don’t know? Is that against the rules? Lets go to our commentator, the Republican Party –– say there was a supreme court vacancy, would you do something tricky? Twice?

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He’s winding up, so no one on base.

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Yeah, it was clear from the video there was no one on base, just digging up some legality metrics for funzies.

I think there’d be a good argument for “deceiving the batter” but I am SO not a baseball expert.

(Weirdly, I have zero interest in baseball but gobs of interest in baseball rules lawyering.)

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My only umpiring was undergrad intramurals long ago, but my gut says illegal pitch (not balk if no one on base) and pitch doesn’t count. Very cool though. I’m impressed

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Things that skirt the fringes of the rules are always interesting to watch, like when the bears hiked the ball during a personnel change-up, or Refrigerator Perry carrying Walter Payton across the goal line. Sometimes they fly, sometimes they don’t, but they are generally so rare that they are fun to watch.

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I’d fake like I was going to fist bump him and then out of the blue from nowhere, my other fist actually connects with his jaw HAHAHA on him.

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Oh, this is even clearer in the NCAA rules:

NCAA 9-1 Pitching positions

a. The Windup. The windup position is indicated when the pitcher stands with his chest and shoulders generally facing the batter, with the pivot foot on or in front of and touching the pitcher’s plate with the other foot free, and with the free foot touching or behind (breaking) the plane of the front edge of the pitcher’s plate.

From this position, any natural movement associated with the delivery of the ball to the batter commits the pitcher to pitch without interruption or alteration. The pitcher shall not raise either foot from the ground, except that in the actual delivery of the ball to the batter, the pitcher may take one step backward or sideward and one step forward with the free foot.

PENALTY—With the bases unoccupied, an illegal pitch shall be called. With the bases occupied, a balk shall be called.

1) A pitcher may assume the windup position with:

a) Hands together in front of the body;

[2 alternatives]

From these positions the pitcher may:

a) Deliver the ball to the batter;

b) Step and throw to a base in an attempt to pick off a runner; or

c) Disengage from the pitching rubber by stepping back off the rubber and placing the pivot foot on the ground behind the rubber before separating the hands or stepping back with the free foot.

This is pretty clearly an illegal pitch because he didn’t directly deliver the ball, throw to base, or disengage from the rubber. (But again, IANAU or even a baseball fan.)

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If this is allowed, might as well let the pitcher take two baseballs to the mound, drop one at his feet, shout “OOPS! I don’t have the ball any more!” and then throw a strike with the other one. Or throw a runner out, pitcher’s choice.

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The differences is that politics isn’t a zero-sum winner-take-all competition. The scores of both teams get added together. But the GOP doesn’t understand this, and thinks that somehow America is better if the blue states suffer.

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Only if all the players behave as though this is the case.

They 100% understand this; they just don’t care.

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I won’t comment on the legality of this, but I will point out that when the curve ball was developed, it was consider “deceiving” the batter in many circles. I seem to recall reading that some teams or possibly umps forbid its use, at least in the college circles back in the day.

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However, a catcher keeping the ball throwing a back a potato instead of the ball is frowned on. http://www.baseballreliquary.org/about/collections/dave-bresnahan-potato/

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So you’re saying it’s equivalent to a balk.

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No, I was referring more to a runner on first known to take a long lead off the bag. The pitcher checks the runner by tossing to the first baseman instead of the plate.
The first baseman then pretends to toss the ball back to the pitcher, but palms the ball instead.
The hapless runner not paying close attention then takes their normal lead off the bag believing the pitcher now has the ball, and is immediately tagged out by the first baseman who actually still holds the ball.
The runner walks off in embarrassment, the crowd goes crazy and it gets rerun a thousand times as a highlight.

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