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The fake to third, throw to first move is now officially a balk

Jan 26, 2013, 12:15 PM EDT

Baseball rule book

We talked about this when the owners voted to ban the move at the owners meeting a couple of weeks ago. Now it’s official: the fake to third, throw to first move is a balk.

Tyler Kepner has a story on it at the New York Times with a lot of good quotes and anecdotes. Mostly centered around the idea that the play never worked anyway. Except for when it did.  Sometimes way better than you think.

  1. icanspeel - Jan 26, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    What about the fake throw to 2nd base? Obviously it never works since they don’t throw the ball, but it takes as much time as the fake to third throw to first.

    • dcfan4life - Jan 26, 2013 at 2:18 PM

      All fakes are done to keep the runners from guessing right and for pitchers to try and limit their abilities to steal. Since most base stealers steal a lot more than they get caught, this only amplifies their advantage. This will create more runs and more action. Pitchers wont like it, everyone else will.

  2. dondada10 - Jan 26, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    It’s such a cock tease when you link to an article from the season. Come on baseball, hurry up!

  3. sneschalmers - Jan 26, 2013 at 12:34 PM

  4. BigBeachBall - Jan 26, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    They want to take away the only pure thing left in baseball… What a shame…

    • bigharold - Jan 26, 2013 at 12:47 PM

      LMAO. Thanks, .. I just added another useless favorite link, … NOOOOOOOO!

  5. RickyB - Jan 26, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    Why not just outlaw all pickoffs? Someone should gather the percentages on how many times a regular pickoff “works” compared to how many times it doesn’t. Then compile the same for the third-first pickoff. I would bet the percentages are similar. The purpose of the move is more to keep runners from getting a good jump, which is essentially what most pickoffs attempt to do. And if you can’t tell, I am against outlawing the move. One of the fun quirks in the game. Sorry to see it go.

    • hughhansen - Jan 26, 2013 at 1:52 PM


      It’s like people forget about any sort of baseball strategy when talk about this move.

      And I’m sure the percentage of succes is MUCH higher than the regular pick-off move. There are a million throws to first that aren’t even supposed to pick the runner off.

      I’d be for more strict enforcement of the balk rule, however. Although if it led to more throws to first, I might rethink it. Excess throws to first can really suck the life and momentum out of a game.

    • seeinred87 - Jan 27, 2013 at 6:54 AM

      While I’m sad to see it go because I agree that it’s a fun quirk, it makes sense to outlaw it based on the general intent of the balk rule.

    • DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 27, 2013 at 10:11 AM

      If you outlaw pick-off attempts, you have to outlaw stealing as well – otherwise guys would take 30 foot leads and walk to 2nd on the pitch

  6. jimbroney - Jan 26, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    Well I’ll never watch baseball again.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jan 26, 2013 at 2:35 PM

      I’ve seen this now outlawed move actually work in an MLB game. But as for a boycott, I’m going to compromise: I’ll never watch cricket again.

  7. mybrunoblog - Jan 26, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    Somewhere, Jeff Nelson weeps.

    • jkcalhoun - Jan 26, 2013 at 2:18 PM

      Elsewhere, Steve Busby wails.

  8. firstcauseproject - Jan 26, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    A pickoff is an attempt to catch a player taking a lead; the third to first pickoff is the same, but relies on outright deception, which I think addresses the general intent of the balk rule. I think this is a good call.

  9. Glenn - Jan 26, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    What we have lost, as “true” fans of the game, is to sit smugly when the now-banned move would happen during a game and morons started yelling balk. Now they’re right.

    • Old Gator - Jan 26, 2013 at 2:34 PM

      Anything that makes a moron right enriches democracy. If you don’t believe me, read some of the comments on the Yahoo! blogs.

  10. snowbirdgothic - Jan 26, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    I never understood why there was a problem with attempting to “deceive” the runner. You’re trying to get the guy out, so IMHO as long as you’re not sending Bugs Bunny in drag out to the first base bag, anything should be fair game.

    • paperlions - Jan 26, 2013 at 4:07 PM

      Really would help if you read the story. There is no rule in baseball that says you can not try to deceive the runner; all good pick off moves deceive the runner. There were 13 acts a pitcher could do that would result in a balk, as they were deemed unfair deceptions of the runner. Now there are 14.

  11. stex52 - Jan 26, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    As if the umpires knew what a balk is anyway!

  12. Jonny 5 - Jan 26, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    Right handed pitchers and left handed pitchers don’t have equal chances if they allow the move to survive. That’s the problem. It benefits one more than the other by a good margin. I like the move, it’s fun. Politics suck.

  13. Tim OShenko - Jan 26, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    How’s about they compromise to appease the purists and let the National League keep the move?

  14. pillowporkers - Jan 27, 2013 at 2:20 AM

    Basically, if you have a fast runner on first, your guy on third can get a little better lead because if the pitcher goes to 3rd, the fast guy on first will now be told to go on lift even moreso than they already are told to against right handed pitchers. The pitcher has no choice but to allow the runner on 3rd a little extra of a lead.

    • pillowporkers - Jan 27, 2013 at 2:23 AM

      I suppose they’ll be using more snap throws then. I guess this won’t change much because having a lead on 3rd isn’t the greatest advantage in the world. Pitchers will adjust their pickoff arsenals accordingly.

  15. Minoring In Baseball - Jan 28, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    Lame rule change. I don’t blame some pitchers for being po’d about it.

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