Thursday, June 16, 2011

Discussions: Walk-Off

Sure, every person affiliated with baseball - umpires, players, coaches, and fans alike - is familiar with what is referred to as "the walk-off." Baseball experts and amateurs alike define the walk-off as a hit (for it usually is a hit or home run) that ends the game, winning it for the home team. The Official Baseball Rules (OBR) doesn't even use the verbiage "walk-off"; instead, Rule 4.11(c) simply states that a game shall end immediately if "the home team scores the winning run in its half of the ninth inning (or its half of an extra inning after a tie)."

Most dedicated fans of the game are also aware of the fact that a walk-off refers to the losing team walking off the field as a result of the winning hit; it does not refer to the winning team because they are presumably so excited they are skipping, jumping, or jogging... they aren't walking. The term first appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on April 21, 1988 when Lowell Cohn wrote about A's pitcher Dennis Eckersley's "Eck-isms," one of which was "walkoff pieces," referring to a home run that ends the game under Rule 4.11(c). The UEFL rarely discusses the walk-off, as when a game ends under Rule 4.11(c), an ejection rarely follows. But even without an game ending ejection today, Penwhale wrote about a unique kind of walk-off:
I know this doesn't apply here, but the balk-off to end Mets-Braves on 6/16 deserves a mention and perhaps people can talk about their balk stories (in addition to talking about their ejection stories).
Penwhale is referring to the "balk-off" called on Mets pitcher D.J.Carrasco, which scored Braves baserunner Diory Hernandez to end the 6/16/11 Mets-Braves contest in the bottom of the 10th inning. Though this balk off (different broadcast feed) is hardly the first balk-off in baseball history: the Braves were last involved in a balk-off during the September 9, 2008 Rockies-Braves contest, the balk-off is rarer than the more common walk-off which occurs just about every day or two. MLB saw its last balk-off on May 31, 2010, in which the Dodgers defeated the Diamondbacks on an Esmerling Vasquez balk which scored Dodgers baserunner Casey Blake.

And here's an interesting footnote for statistical coincidence fans - two of the umpires who called the balk on Vasquez last May 31, 2B Umpire Tim Tschida and 3B Umpire Bob Davidson, both had ejections today. And the third most recent ejection (on Tuesday) was credited to, you guessed it, the Plate Umpire from the May 31st contest, Alfonso Marquez.

Discussion Point: What's the craziest ending - under Rule 4.11(c) or otherwise - that you've ever seen or have participated in (as an umpire, player, etc.)? Have you ever called a "balk-off"?


Anonymous said...

I love how on the balk off the crowd doesn't understand the call until a little bit after it's been made. On the hits, it's an immediate, but on the balks, you see one small section start cheering, and then everyone else joins in.

Anonymous said...

Odd thing about those 3 umps in the balk game being the last three ejections, but I guess that's what stats are about right?

Cricket said...

Being annoyed by the ignorant suggestions of why Carrasco balked, I had to get on the Braves Facebook page and clear up all the confusion. It's funny that very few casual fans know anything about balks. Similarly, very few coaches below the high school level know much, either.

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