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Rules changes for next year include coaches, managers being able to bring interpreters to the mound

Jan 14, 2013, 5:05 PM EDT

Geovany Soto, Adrian Beltre, Yu Darvish, Ron Washington

Jayson Stark reports on several potential rules changes that spun out of last week’s owners meetings. The most notable: coaches and managers will be able to bring an interpreter to the mound for meetings with players who don’t speak fluent English.

No word if Phillies pitchers will get their own English-to-1940s grifter interpreter for when Charlie Manuel comes out for pitching changes.  “I don’t even know what ‘what’s the rumpus’ means,” said Cole Hamels, explaining his support for the rule.

Other proposed changes:

  • Teams will be permitted to have a seventh coach in uniform; the previous limit was six; and
  • The fake-to-third, throw-to-first pickoff move would now be considered a balk.

The first one is because so many teams are hiring assistant hitting coaches.  The second rule must be aimed at bloggers and color commentators, who will now no longer be able to say “that move rarely works, so I don’t know why they do it.”

The proposed changes have to now be approved by the union before being implemented.

  1. The Dangerous Mabry - Jan 14, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    Could you previously have more than 6 coaches if one was not in uniform? Or are you only allowed to have uniformed personnel in dugouts and bullpens?

    The interpreter rule seems perfectly reasonable and appropriate, though raises the question of whether they need to be in uniform as well, and if they count as a “coach”. If not, could you play games and get an extra coach out of it? And would it even matter? Does more coaches constitute an advantage?

    Also, boo on the fake-to-third, throw-to-first being an actual balk. It’s so much more fun to scream “BALK!” when you know damn well that it’s not a balk.

  2. chill1184 - Jan 14, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    So would it be safe to say that we will see a slight uptick in balks this upcoming season?

    • stex52 - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:31 AM

      As if anyone (umpires included) knew what a balk is anyway.

  3. icanspeel - Jan 14, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    I am disappointed they are removing the fake to 3rd throw to 1st move cause it is so awesome when it actually works once every year or 2.

    • The Dangerous Mabry - Jan 14, 2013 at 5:11 PM

      Yes indeed. Anything that gives us a chance to say TOOTBLAN is a good thing.

    • hojo20 - Jan 14, 2013 at 7:02 PM

      Jerry Remy fell for the “third to first move” the first time he ever got on base.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:43 AM

      I actually saw it work in an MLB game a couple of years ago. Nearly fell off my chair!

  4. Marty McKee - Jan 14, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    What is the point of changing the fake-to-third rule? How has it been hurting the game, and how will the new rule improve it?

    • paperlions - Jan 14, 2013 at 6:29 PM

      I think they are taking it out because teams now use it to see if the hitter squares around on the pitcher’s first move or not. They aren’t even trying to pick anyone off, they are just trying to get information about any play that might be on….which has led to its increased usage recently. They are probably doing it in the name of speeding up the game (as if anyone complains about baseball games taking too long).

  5. proudlycanadian - Jan 14, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    Pitchers seem to be allowed to fake a throw to second base. Will they be allowed to make a fake move to third base, if they do not throw (or fake a throw) to first? Will they be allowed to fake a throw to third and then throw to second?

    • paint771 - Jan 14, 2013 at 6:26 PM

      Or what if it’s a fake phone call? Like stretch, windup, and…oh man, that’s my phone. Sorry guys, my mother’s been ill, I just have to take this real quick and SURPRISE BITCHES!!! Throw to first.

      Or if it’s a fake heart attack. Like, stretch, windup, and…ah!!!! Oh no! Oh, this is the biggest one I ever had!!! You hear that Elizabeth? I’m coming to join you honey! I can see the light!!! It’s so beautif…SURPRISE BITCHES!!! Throw to first.

      OR, what if the interpreter comes out for a mound visit with a couple of coaches, and they’re all out there talking and they turn to leave but in the middle of the mound visit the interpreter and the pitcher switched places and the game got restarted and stretch windup but the first base runner thinks “hey, that pitcher has a goatee now and seems to be throwing left-handed all of a sudden. What the hey…”SURPRISE BITCHES IT’S FORMER PHILADELPHIA PHILLY TERRY MULHOLLAND WHO WAS THE INTERPRETER THE WHOLE TIME AFTER WE TRAINED HIM TO SPEAK FLUENT JAPANESE!!! Throw to first.

      Honestly, I’m not sure management has thought this one through.

      • ugglasforearms - Jan 14, 2013 at 7:09 PM

        This is the funniest comment I’ve ever seen on HBT!!!

      • cur68 - Jan 14, 2013 at 8:33 PM

        This right here is why our country kicked ass in 1812. Dude’s KILLING it! That’s my fellow BeaverMan fan, folks. Give him a big hand. He’ll be here all season. Tip your waiters.

      • stex52 - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:30 AM

        Multiple thumbs up. Well done.

      • flosox - Jan 15, 2013 at 11:31 AM

        T-Mobile is the official sponsor of that fake-phonecall-throw-to-first right?

  6. youknowwhatsgoodforshoulderpain - Jan 14, 2013 at 5:51 PM

    I’m a little surprised its taken this long to allow an interpreter. How long have we had foreign players that show off the 5 english words they know everytime a mic/camera gets in their face after a game??

    • binarymath - Jan 15, 2013 at 8:15 AM

      Maybe the interpreter can moonlight by taking part in Sammy Sosa steroid interviews…

    • stex52 - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:35 AM

      How long would it take a manager to learn to say “Throw strikes, dammit” in Japanese?

  7. FinFan68 - Jan 14, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    They will add an unintended consequence with the new balks rule. If a pitcher intends to throw to 3rd and then stops the runner on first can do whatever he wants and the pitcher can’t throw to first. Is there going to be a time limit? The premise is dumb. Leave the rules alone. The interpreter is dumbs as well. It is a limited variable conversation. Does the catcher get to bring an interpreter too?

    • brewcrewfan54 - Jan 14, 2013 at 7:15 PM

      What do you mean if the pitcher “intends to throw to first and then stops?” That’s a balk now and always will be. If the pitcher is planning on throwing to 3rd he has 3 options currently, throw to 3rd, deliver a pitch or stop and get called for a balk.

      • FinFan68 - Jan 14, 2013 at 9:12 PM

        I thought that feigning a throw was only a balk if towards first base (initially) or an unoccupied base. I have seen pitchers turn to 3rd or 2nd base all the time without actually making a throw and I don’t remember a balk being called. But what do I know? I am admittedly more of a football guy than baseball. I thought the infield fly rule applied against the Braves was bogus too. I guess that’s just me.

      • brewcrewfan54 - Jan 14, 2013 at 11:35 PM

        Ahh I guess I wasn’t understanding what you meant. Now I get it. My apologies sir.

      • seeinred87 - Jan 15, 2013 at 3:31 AM

        Just to back FinFan up, a pitcher can fake to any base except 1st, so long as he steps toward that base 1st.

        And as far as throwing to an unoccupied base, a pitcher is actually allowed to spin around and throw to 2nd with a runner on 1st (for some reason).

        Balk rules are so damn complicated.

      • deep64blue - Jan 15, 2013 at 5:23 AM

        Well I thought that would be fairly obvious – with a runner on 1st and the Pitcher not allowed to throw to 2nd stealing 2nd would be a heck of a lot easier!!

      • seeinred87 - Jan 15, 2013 at 6:49 AM

        The rules say that he’s allowed to spin and throw to 2nd without hesitating toward 1st; it doesn’t mention anything about a steal attempt or anything. Maybe that’s what the intent of the rule is, but it makes it sound like a pitcher can throw to an unoccupied 2nd base with a runner on 1st just for the hell of it.

  8. randygnyc - Jan 14, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    Paint771, I laughed out loud. I’m generally of a malevolent disposition, so you win the Internet today. SURPRISE, BITCHES!!!!

  9. cackalackyank - Jan 14, 2013 at 9:19 PM

    If we are gonna have interpreters come out to the mound can they also have beverage service too? Maybe some warm towels? Can a guy get a nice Brisket Sandwich? I know waiters….are they gonna have waiters on field…will they have to wear uniforms? Do they count as nutrition coaches then?

  10. 84cubs - Jan 14, 2013 at 9:39 PM

    Press “1” for the Spanish interpreter, Press “2” for Japanese Interpreter,…….or wait, heres a novel idea, LEARN TO SPEAK ENGLISH! Shouldnt be too difficult to find an affordable online program, right?

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:51 AM

      84, I agree. If you are going to work for a company in a foreign country, only an idiot would not make every effort to learn their language, at very least the basics to get by. I found it utterly bizarre that Ichiro was still using an interpreter for post-game comments more than 5 years after coming to the US.

      • naliamegod - Jan 15, 2013 at 6:21 AM

        There is a massive difference between being able to learn a language enough to survive and being able to work in another language. Many many expats generally work in foreign places using their own language.

        And IIRC, Ichiro’s English is actually pretty decent now. He uses a translator so he doesn’t accidentally say something stupid or get caught up.

  11. canadabaseball - Jan 15, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    I would think tho you could still pick up and not throw to third still seeing if the batter is bunting. It’s been apart of the game since I remember should just live with it. It’s not like it’s some rule change that’s going to chance anything

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