Fake pick-off move becomes a balk

(Photo: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports)

The pitcher fakes a throw to third and then spins and fakes a throw to first. Usually, the move has fans yelling "balk", but now, the umpires will be yelling "balk", too.

It's a move that hardly ever works, but you see it at least once in every major league game. Runners on first and third and pitchers are bound to try the old fake to third and then look at first. If it works once in a season, it's amazing.

Now, it won't work at all, because the move has been officially declared a balk.

The move has been in the works since the new collective bargaining agreement was signed and last May, Major League Baseball's Playing Rules Committee approved the proposal. MLB executives and the umpires union were in agreement, although the player's association - pardon the pun - balked at the plan.

Two weeks ago, the owners approved the rule change, putting it into effect. The last CBA did allow for the rule change, but only after at least a one-year wait to make the change.

It's thought that one of the intents in approving the rule is to help speed up the game. Many times, a pitcher would use the move simply to give himself more time to think about how he wanted to approach a hitter or to give a relief pitcher a little more time to warm up.

Former pitcher Jeff Nelson told the New York Times, "I think now, the runner at first might get a bit of an advantage. All it's used for is to keep the runner at first close. I might have done it 100 times and gotten two guys on it."


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