What is a Balk?
Balk is an infraction introduced into baseball rules in 1950 which prohibits pitchers from falsifying pickoff attempts by fake picking off runners on bases.
A balk can refer to any movement made by a pitcher while winding up or set, including body movements or flinches.
What is a balk?
If you have ever watched any baseball, chances are you have encountered an umpire raising their hand and shouting, “Balk!” This rule distinguishes baseball from other sports: when a pitcher engages in illegal mound motion, deceiving baserunner(s). Once called, any men on base are awarded another floor, and the pitch is waved off as a dead ball.
While most balks occur when trying to pick off runners, other circumstances can also result in one. For instance, pitchers must not step onto the rubber without possessing the ball to prevent “hidden ball tricks,” in which pitchers hide it within their glove to get runners out without being tagged.
As with pitchers, pitchers must remain still when in the set position; any sudden movements or flinches could result in a balk call; it is also prohibited for them to move off of the rubber before throwing.
Balks can occur in various ways, the most prevalent being when the pitcher drops the ball while they are in their set position – intentionally or by accident. A famous example occurred in 42 when Jackie Robinson danced off third base and caused the pitcher to drop the ball and commit a balk.
Balks occur when pitchers move off the mound before throwing to alter their wind-up, an offense punishable by automatic home runs for the batter.
Balks can also occur when a pitcher attempts to throw to an active base when one of its runners is currently present; this serious violation can lead to all runners being awarded one floor move forward instantly.
When is a balk called?
Baseball stands apart from most other sports by having numerous rules and stats for fans to understand. One such rule is the balk, an action called by umpires during baseball games that allows runners to advance one base if a pitcher commits one. This rule deters them from trying to be deceptive with their actions on the field.
One way pitchers can be called for a balk is when they begin, stop, stop, twitch, drop the ball twice, or separate their hands twice during an inning – all actions that deceive batters and runners alike. These acts constitute balks as they attempt to mislead.
Balks typically occur when a pitcher begins his motion but abruptly stops it for some reason – either because they changed their mind about throwing the pitch or saw someone steal and decided to quit his arm motion instead of continuing it.
Balk calls can also occur if a pitcher attempts to fake a pickoff throw, which is illegal because the pitcher must first ensure there are no runners on any bases before attempting such a throw. Furthermore, dropping the ball while in their set position can result in being called on a balk call.
When a pitcher balks, an umpire will audibly and visually alert all runners of his actions before pointing laterally at him. Once this occurs, all runners must advance one base; also possible is penalizing by having to face the batter with an 0-2 count immediately following.
Even though most Major League pitchers don’t intentionally balk, there have been notable instances in the past of those that did it intentionally. Milwaukee Braves pitcher Bob Shaw holds the all-time single-game record with five balks against Chicago Cubs on May 4, 1963; Oakland Athletics pitcher Dave Stewart of 1988 has the season record of 16 balks committed.
What is the penalty for a balk?
Baseball’s penalty for a balk is that all baserunners advance one base. This rule was created to prevent pitchers from intentionally deceiving baserunners by engaging in illegal actions that deceive them; however, not every time a pitcher balks punished with this move, depending on its intent and effect on baserunners advancing.
The Balk Rule stipulates that pitchers only make specific movements and maintain one of two standard pitching positions before and during each pitch by an umpire’s balk call. When this occurs, a referee will typically call a balk; usually, this results in the home plate batter not moving forward due to this ruling; depending on its severity, however, there may be an opportunity for arguments with the umpire before his decision stands.
A pitcher must remain still in the set position rather than take the sign from his catcher or prepare to throw to a base. They must also wait a full second after accepting their character before starting their delivery; any other body movements in this set position would constitute a balk.
Not only can pitchers be called out for balking, but they may also be charged with intentionally altering or defacing the ball by spitting on it, defacing or altering its surface, rubbing against their clothing/body, or applying foreign substances – an intentional act which could result in them being removed from play.
Falsifying or attempting a pickoff throw can also constitute a balk, making umpires’ inspection easier. This mistake is all too often made and should be treated accordingly.
Balks can be confusing both to players and fans. Their rules can be complicated and are frequently up to the discretion of an umpire to call or not call. As governing bodies adjust these regulations further, more balks may be called, and baserunners must exercise extreme caution when running bases. On the other hand, lax enforcement of these regulations could allow pitchers to more easily hold runners close to their bases, potentially making base stealing less attractive.
What is the rule for a balk?
Baseball pitchers cannot deceive baserunners. Any attempt by them at deceptive baserunning practices – be it flinching on the mound after they get set or making tricky pick-off shots – that displace the bases can be considered illegal, leading to what is known as a balk call, should one occur while runners are on the ground, they will advance one base.
Rules surrounding a balk dictate that before throwing or attempting a pick-off attempt, a pitcher must bring their hands together in the set position and stop before moving their arm – failure to do so constitutes a balk.
Balk rule two requires the pitcher to keep at least one foot on the pitching rubber. If they move off of it, they must either immediately deliver a ball or attempt a pick-off. Otherwise, they will be called for balking.
Other actions qualify as balks. For instance, if a pitcher steps off of the rubber with their non-pivot foot without first pivoting their pivot foot away, it is considered a balk; similarly, if they begin their windup while holding onto the ball in their glove without throwing it yet, this too would constitute a balk.
Some pitchers will attempt to deceive baserunners by moving their legs. For instance, right-handed pitchers might try to throw over to first base by crossing one leg over their knee before tossing it – umpires would likely see this action and result in them calling balk.
Balking pitchers often commit an act of falsity by dropping the ball during any part of their delivery, be it picking off baserunners or just while in set position. It is an especially prevalent form of balk that occurs frequently, particularly during playoffs. Pitchers should remain aware of this rule and try not to drop it.