The correct ruling of a balk came into play in my baseball game last night. Now, I know that the balk is a VERY complicated rule, so I went online and looked it up at www.baseball-reference.com.
According to the rules of baseball, a balk is "an illegal act by the pitcher with a runner or runners on base, entitling all runners to advance one base." The purpose of the balk rule is to preserve a balance between runners attempts to steal bases and the defense's attempts to retire them. Lax enforcement of the balk rule in the 1930s through the 1950s contributed to a sharp decline in base stealing attempts. Stricter enforcement in 1988 led to that season being known as the "Year of the Balk".
The balk rule (8.05 of the rules of Major League Baseball) is complex and technical, with 13 different actions that constitute a balk. Most balks can only be seen from a specific angle, meaning that a large percentage of the spectators at a game will not have seen the violation which caused a balk to be called. A pitcher may be charged with a balk if he:
- Starts his pitching motion without completing the pitch
- Fakes a throw to first base
- While standing on the rubber, throws to a base without stepping directly toward that base
- While standing on the rubber, throws or fakes a throw to an unoccupied base, unless a runner is running toward that base
- Makes an illegal pitch, including a quick pitch
- Pitches while not facing the batter
- Makes any part of his pitching motion while not touching the pitching rubber
- Unnecessarily delays the game
- Stands on or astride the pitching rubber without the ball
- After assuming the windup or set position, removes one hand from the ball except in the course of making a pitch or throw to a base
- Drops the ball while standing on the pitching rubber
- Pitches while the catcher is not in the catcher's box
- Pitches from the set position without coming to a complete stop
Now, I will give you the situation of last night - which I know, because I was pitching.
I entered the game with bases loaded, 1 out. A ground ball to the 2nd basemen allowed one runner to score, and got one out on 2nd base. So 2 down, 2 on - 1st and 3rd.
I was pitching out of the stretch, I come up, pitch, and the runner steals 2nd (but there was a foul tip the catcher caught.) I didnt think about that until I got on the rubber, and leaned in to recieve the catchers signal. I turned from that position, asked the ump for time. He didnt give it to me, so from that postion, I took my foot that was on the rubber off, and placed it behind the rubber. Subsequently, the ump called a balk.
I do not see that in the rules. I KNOW it was not against the rules. When a pitcher steps back off of the rubber, all is live, and the pitcher can do anything.
That lead to a discussion between the umpire and my coach, who then got tossed for the first time in 32 years.
Any clarifications here??