• “Hey Blue, the runner busted his butt running to first base, the least you could do is move 10 ft. to make a call!”~~~

  • “Wipe the dirt off that called strike, Blue!”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, did they stop printing the rulebook in Braille?”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, Lenscrafter called and said your new glasses will be ready in 30 minutes!”~~~

  • “You're killing me, Blue!”~~~

  • “Blue, that was a strike in any bowling alley!”~~~

  • “Sweep the plate Blue! It's the least you can do!”~~~

  • “Wake up Blue, you're missing a great game!”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, you're getting better, you almost made the right call that time!”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, Stevie Wonder could see that one!”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, you really shouldn't be in the game until you get warmed up!”~~~

  • “Blue, just 'cause it's a night game, doesn't mean you should be asleep!”~~~

  • “Blue, if that pitch were any further outside it would be in the West Desert!”~~~

  • “Somebody call the police, this guy is impersonating an umpire!”~~~

  • “Blue, now I know why there’s only one eye (I) in umpire”~~~

  • “You can go home Blue. We'll take it from here.”~~~

  • “Come on Blue, it’s a strike zone, not an end zone!”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, does your wife let you make decisions at home?”~~~

  • “Blue, kick your dog, he's lying to you!”~~~

  • “Blue, if the pitcher is throwing too fast for you, we can ask him to slow it down!”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, how can you sleep with all these lights on?”~~~

  • “I’ve seen better Blues in a box of crayons!”~~~

  • “I’m gonna break your cane and shoot your dog!”~~~

  • “If I had a dollar, Blue, for every good call you’ve made, I’d be broke!”~~~

  • "Is that your final answer?”~~~

  • “The magic 8 ball says……”~~~

  • “When your dog barks twice, it's a strike!”~~~

  • “Mix in some consistency once in awhile!”~~~

  • “Take off that welding mask”~~~

  • “Lenscrafter called... They'll be ready in 30 min.”~~~

  • “Open your good eye!”~~~

  • “Can I pet your seeing eye dog after the game?”~~~

  • “Looked pretty good from up here Blue!”~~~

  • “Do your sleeping at home Blue!”~~~

  • “You must be losing them in the lights!”~~~

  • “Why do you keep looking in your hand...do you have a map of the strike zone in it?”~~~

  • “I'll take three pencils!”~~~

  • “For a guy that only works 2 hours a day, you're doing a pretty bad job!”~~~

  • “Hey blue, if you had one more eye you'd be a Cyclops!”~~~

  • “RING..RING....Wake up call Blue!”~~~

  • “I've seen better blue in a toilet bowl!”~~~

  • “What's a matter you gotta broken arm?”~~~

  • “Look through the mask, not at it!”~~~

  • “It really is hot today - that strike zone is melting!”~~~

  • “Wrong!”~~~

  • “Here's a quarter, go buy a strike zone!”~~~

  • “How's work experience going Blue?”~~~

  • “Hey Blue…if you had one more eye, you’d be a Cyclops!”~~~

  • “Keep that up and we’ll shoot your dog and break your cane!”~~~

  • “"Easy Flinchy" – After a slight flinch behind the plate.”~~~

  • “I thought only horses slept standing up!”~~~

  • “You're blinking way to long!”~~~

  • “Come on Blue, that pitch was so far outside it had a hat and coat on!”~~~

  • “You couldn't see the plate if your dinner was on it!”~~~

  • “Wake up Blue, you're missing a great game!”~~~

  • “Somebody call the police, this guy's impersonating an umpire!”~~~

  • “You're like a bat without sonar!”~~~

  • “I didn't know we were golfing today, I would have brought my clubs!”~~~

  • “Did you star in "Weekend at Bernie's"?”~~~

  • “Hey blue, that call was a get outta here quick call!”~~~

  • “I thought only horses slept standing up!”~~~

  • “That was higher than a t-shirt at Mardi Gras!”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, it's against the law to make prank calls!”~~~

  • “(Hold up cell phone) Is this your cell phone? Because it has three missed calls!”~~~

  • “That pitch was like your last date, you didn't want to see her or call her.”~~~

  • “To batter as he steps into the box: "You better be swinging. You're standing in the strike zone."”~~~

  • “After the ump has dusted off home plate: "You're gonna make someone a great wife someday!”~~~

  • “You're not gonna sleep a minute tonight because you've slept all game!”~~~

  • “Did you make the call on WMD in Iraq as well?”~~~

  • “Is your rule book written in Braille?”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, how can you sleep with all these lights on!”~~~

  • “Stevie Wonder could see that one!”~~~

  • “Flip over the plate and read the directions!”~~~

  • “How about some Windex for that glass eye!”~~~

  • “The French judge says it's a strike!”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, diarrhea has more consistency than your strike zone!”~~~

  • “You need to go to confession after that call!”~~~

  • “I've seen better Blues in a box of crayons!”~~~

  • “Don't bother brushing off the corners, you're not calling them anyway!”~~~

  • “We know you're blind, we've seen your wife!”~~~

  • “They're putting your strike zone on the back of milk cartons!”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, that's not a 9 iron he's hitting with!”~~~

  • “How do you sleep at night?”~~~

  • “I was confused the first time I saw a game too!”~~~

  • “I've gotten better calls from my ex-wife!”~~~

  • “Good thing there are not three choices!”~~~

  • “Somebody get the ump his prescription mask!”~~~

  • “You flipping coins?”~~~

  • “Hey Blue is that a dinner plate? Apparently it has no corners!”~~~

  • “Admit it.... You lied!”~~~

  • “Why don't you get your Seeing Eye dog to call it for you?”~~~

  • “I forgot the Milk-Bone for your seeing-eye dog!”~~~

  • “Have you lost your strike zone in the lights?”~~~

  • “Now I know why there's only one eye (I) in umpire!”~~~

  • “You couldn't get a pitchout right!”~~~

  • “You're making more bad calls than a telemarketer!”~~~

  • “Kick your dog, he's lying to you!”~~~

  • “Be careful when you back up, so you don't fall over your dog!”~~~

  • “Did you haul in your strike zone on a tractor trailer bed?”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, if you had another eye it would be lonely!”~~~

  • “You couldn't call hogs!”~~~

  • “Keep calling them like that and you'll be bagging groceries in no time!”~~~

  • “Get a hammer and some nails, the plate is movin' around again!”~~~

  • “You call more strikes than a union delegate!”~~~

  • “Did your glass eye fog up?”~~~

  • “You couldn't call a cab!”~~~

  • “The circus is in town and the clowns are wearing blue!”~~~

  • “It's a strike zone, not an end zone!”~~~

  • “You really shouldn't be in the game until you get warmed up!”~~~

  • “Come on Blue, turn that mask around and get a GOOD look!”~~~

  • “You can go home blue, we'll take it from here!”~~~

  • “How'd you become an umpire? Flunk out of tollbooth school?”~~~

  • “How about asking the crowd?”~~~

  • “Do you want to use another lifeline?”~~~

  • “3 Blind Mice, 3 Blind Mice,”~~~

  • “What were you, a lookout for the Titanic?”~~~

  • “How many fingers am I holding up?”~~~

  • “(For an umpire is slow getting in position) C'mon blue, put the Snicker Bar down!”~~~

  • “Sweep the plate! It's the least you can do!”~~~

  • “Move around, you're tilting' the infield!”~~~

  • “Move around Blue, you're killing' the grass!”~~~

  • “It sure sounded like a strike!”~~~

  • “How'd you get a square head in that round mask?”~~~

  • “Have they stopped printing the rulebooks in Braille?”~~~

  • “Don't donate your eyes to science, they don't want 'em'”~~~

  • “Does your wife let you make decisions at home?”~~~

  • “Pull the good eye out of your pocket!”~~~

  • “Wipe the dirt off that called strike!”~~~

  • “Sure you don't want to phone a friend?”~~~

  • “You can open your eyes now!”~~~

  • “Do you get any better or is this it?”~~~

  • “You're blinking too long!”~~~

  • “You couldn't make the right call if you had a phone book!”~~~

  • “You couldn't make a call in a phone booth!”~~~

  • “Do you take Visa or American Express?”~~~

  • “Leave the gift giving to Santa!”~~~

  • “Take out your glass eye and wash it!”~~~

  • “Guess again, the last call was wrong!”~~~

  • “Blue, do you feel guilty?”~~~

  • “If the pitcher is throwing too fast for you, we can ask them to slow it down!”~~~

  • “Your strike zone is a moving target!”~~~

  • “You're getting better, you almost made the right call that time!”~~~

  • “Punch a hole in that mask, you're missing a good game!”~~~

  • “Hey, Sleeping Beauty, wake up!”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, Magnum P.I. called and he can't find your strike zone!”~~~

  • “I've seen potatoes with better eyes!”~~~

  • “Next time buy a ticket if you're going to watch!”~~~

  • “Can I buy you another beer?”~~~

  • “We know your blind we've seen your wife!”~~~

  • “I’ve seen better blues in a crayon box!”~~~

  • “I've heard better calls at a square dance!”~~~

  • “I've heard better calls between two tin cans and a piece of string!”~~~

  • “Hey Blue, were you looking for the curve?”~~~

  • “Hey Blues, which one of you is the designated driver?”~~~

  • “Move a little Blue, you're growing' roots!~~~

  • '

G Rules Balk3rd


Michael Leavitt


SITUATION - Monday Night Lights 12U game there are runners on first and second base. While pitching from the stretch the pitcher comes to a set position and the runner from second takes off to steal for third base. Without removing his rear foot from the pitcher’s plate (rubber), the pitcher makes a direct pick-off move/throw to the open third base. The pick-off throw results in a pickle play between second and third with the runner. The umpire calls the play a balk, negates the pickle out and advances the runners. Confusion arose as to whether the pick-off move to the open third base should have been called a balk. There was no question as to flinches or movements that create a balk. The issue was only related to whether or not the pitcher, while being on the rubber and throwing to an unoccupied base without first stepping off was a balk.

DIFFERING OPINIONS - Since the occurrence on the field, the coach has consulted many experienced baseball people and the opinions range from: it is definitely a balk, to it is not a balk, to lots of curiosity about what should be the correct call.

MLB 2013 2002012 RULES - Multiple pages are devoted to the “Balk Rules” in the Official Rules of Major League Baseball covering at least 13 distinct ways a pitcher can balk. We will concentrate on 8.05d which states...

If there a is a runner , or runners, it is a balk when--

(d) The pitcher, while touching his plate, throws, or feints a throw to an unoccupied base, except for the purpose of making a play;

NOTE: DEFINITION OF “FEINTS” - a movement made in order to deceive an adversary; an attack aimed at one place or point merely as a distraction from the real place or point of attack.

TRADITIONAL INTERPRETATION - Purists prefer to see a pitcher step off his plate with his rear foot first, thus becoming a fielder and then making the odd, unique, or bizarre throw is not a question. It is interesting to see the first knee-jerk reaction by others to the above situation is that the play is a balk and the runners should get their next base. I believe this is because most have never seen the play before and never researched the rule book with this scenario in mind. With 13 different balk points discussed in the rule book, it is no wonder why people easily get confused.

OFFICIAL RULING - If there were no issues with the pitcher’s movements and he made a direct move from the rubber to third base with the runner stealing third, then it is NOT a balk to throw to the unoccupied base. Why? Because the pitcher is making a play that satisfies the exception clause in rule 8.05d.

FURTHER EXPLANATION - The exception added to the end of 8.05d, “except for the purpose of making a play” is very important and adds the unique twist. As long as there was nothing in the pitcher’s pick-off move to third that would create a balk, then just throwing to the unoccupied base with a runner stealing to that base is not worthy of a balk call. Think about it for a moment, since there is no further commentary in the rule book as to what “plays” could be made that would fit into this rule exception, then what other plays could occur that would satisfy the exception? I can only think of one play that can happen and that is a steal to an unoccupied base. Rule 5.08d eliminates the scenario where a pitcher throws to an unoccupied base to entice a runner to steal and be tagged out.

EXAMPLE: Runner on first and pitcher throws to third. Thinking the pitcher made a mistake, the runner then decides to steal second and the third baseman throws to second for the tag out. The throw to the unoccupied base instigated the steal and that would be a balk in violation of rule 5.08d.

EXAMPLE 2: Runner at third and pitcher throw to unoccupied 1st base. Runner at third is enticed to steal home and the first baseman throws to home for the tag out. The throw to the unoccupied base instigated the steal and that would be a balk in violation of rule 5.08d.

EXAMPLE 3: Runner at first and the pitcher does a step over move towards unoccupied third and then turns and picks the runner off at first. Feinting a throw to the unoccupied third base would be an attempt to decieve the runner and that would be a balk in violation of rule 5.08d.

According to long time umpire Jim Booth,

“The one caution I will give is to be prepared for umpires who don't interpret the rule correctly and call a balk on the move when a runner is attempting to steal (i.e., the runner attempts a steal, pitcher wheels and throws to the base being "stolen to" while still engaged with the plate, umpire calls a balk). The rational for the call is the base the runner is moving toward is not yet occupied and therefore is in violation of 8.05. It's not a correct interpretation of the rule, but you need to be prepared when/if it happens and not freak out.”


COACH WARNING - If you are a coach with a pitcher who wants to make this direct move to an open base, then you should consider discussing it with your umpires before the game. Since the balk rule is an umpire judgment call, then you should see how they are going to judge before the actual play occurs. If the umpires are adamant about it being a balk, then avoid the situation altogether and tell your pitcher ahead of time. The alternative is to let it happen and then, after the dust clears, you can try to state your case, yet it is rare to win subtle rule interpretations in your favor in the heat of the moment, without a rule book, in the middle of a game. If the umpire does not make the correct ruling, then you must appeal and the rest of the game will then be played on protest, awaiting a ruling from the league in the hopes that the remainder of the game can be replayed... It is doubtful that is going to happen in your favor. Since we know there is confusion, then be proactive and avoid the conflict. If you have an umpire that refuses to accept the above explanation, then the best advice is to avoid the play. Hopefully we can spread the word and make umpires pre-aware of the exception and allowances for allowing a direct, from the rubber, pick-off move to an open base that is NOT a balk.

NOTE: The drawback of having an umpire require the pitcher to step off the rubber first is that a wild throw out of play results in penalties that are harsher having stepped off the rubber first. The runners only get one base if the throw happens with the pitcher’s foot on the rubber, but two if the pitcher steps off the rubber and becomes a fielder.

AND FINALLY, here is the text from the MLB Umpire Manual.

MLBUMNOTE: The Major League Baseball Umpire Manual (MLBUM) is a relatively unknown booklet that used to be published by the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball  for MLB Umpires. The explanations and clarifications are how Major League Baseball wants its rules to be interpreted. The MLB Umpire Manual was a secondary resource, yet did not trump the Official Baseball Rules of MLB. It was not meant to be brought out to quote as the difinitive resource that superceded the Official Baseball Rules of MLB. Instead, it is a small 76 page manual designed to help instuct MLB Umpires in how to make the calls in accordance with the wishes of the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball. When it comes to MLB Upires interpreting the rules, it was the behind the scenes law. The MLBUM is no longer produced and they rolled many of the scenarios and interpretations right into the rule book. Here is what the MLBUM 2010 stated about throwing to an unoccupied base.

Official Baseball Rule 8.05(d) provides that the pitcher be charged with a balk if, while in contact with the pitcher's plate, he throws to an unoccupied base except for the purpose of making a play.
(1) Runners on first and second, pitcher in set position. Runner breaks for third base and pitcher throws to third base. Ruling: Legal play.
(2) Runners on first and second, pitcher in set position. Runner bluffs going to third base and pitcher throws to third base. However, runner did not go. Ruling: Balk, pursuant to Official Baseball Rule 8.05(d).

The key to understanding the above two plays is for the umpire to use good judgment in deciding whether or not the runner was making an actual attempt to advance to third base or whether he was bluffing. These plays will most likely happen with a 3-2 count and two out.
Another interpretation regarding Official Baseball Rule 8.05(d) concerns appeal plays:
It is NOT a balk for the pitcher, while in contact with the rubber, to throw to an unoccupied base IF it is for the purpose of making an appeal play. (Note that the pitcher does not have to step back off the rubber to make an appeal play.)



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