Last night, while I watched Cliff Lee attempt to throw over to first base, I had an idea: Let’s abolish the balk rule.
Here’s what the MLB rules have to say about it:
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.
(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.
The pitcher, following his stretch, must (a) hold the ball in both hands in front of his body and (b) come to a complete stop. This must be enforced. Umpires should watch this closely. Pitchers are constantly attempting to “beat the rule” in their efforts to hold runners on bases and in cases where the pitcher fails to make a complete “stop” called for in the rules, the umpire should immediately call a “Balk.”
Rule 8.01(c) Comment: The pitcher shall step “ahead of the throw.” A snap throw followed by the step directly toward the base is a balk.
Rule 8.01(d) Comment: A ball which slips out of a pitcher’s hand and crosses the foul line shall be called a ball; otherwise it will be called no pitch. This would be a balk with men on base.
Isn’t the whole point of all of this – throwing to first, delivering the ball to the plate – to trick the batter and/or runners on the bases?
What’s the point of restricting what the pitcher’s do to try and create outs, either on the basepaths or at the plate?
The hitch in the windup, the slidestep, the shake of the glove, etc. are all designed to give the pitcher a bit of leverage to get around these rules. If they were abolished, who would suffer? The batter? The runner?
If the balk rule was abolished, I think it would free up pitchers to get a little more creative, keep the runners at bay, and challenge the batters at the plate.
What do you think: Should MLB do away with the balk rule?