Friday, April 27, 2018

Case Play 2018-2 - Balk-A-Day...Joe West? [Solved]

Crew Chief and 1B Umpire Joe West called a controversial balk Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium in the top of the 8th inning of a contentious Marlins-Dodgers game, awarding Miami baserunner Derek Dietrich second base on LA pitcher Tony Cingrani's move to first. Did the Cowboy get it right or was MLB's senior-most umpire incorrect in his ruling?

1B Umpire Joe West calls a balk in LA.
This Case Play isn't as much of a logic exercise as it is a test of judgment; both the Play and Case Play Question are included in the introductory paragraph, above, and the following related rule contains references to previous balk discussions; the West-Cingrani balk in particular is noteworthy because baserunner Dietrich eventually came around to score and Miami ultimately defeated the Dodgers by a one-run margin.

After the game, a local reporter presented the following quote as Joe West's response to a pool reporter's question about the balk: "There’s nothing I can do about it. Nobody’s looking to call a balk there, f*ck, if it doesn’t jump out at you. That’s why I called it. You saw how fast I f*ckin’ called it. You hate that you have to do it, but you can’t let them cheat."

Cingrani deadpanned, "Joe West just knows what he's doing. Been around the game for a while. So obviously that's a balk if he calls it a balk."

One supplemental question to this Case Play has to do with camera angles: Replays indicate U1 West was the first of the four umpires to identify and signal the infraction. Why, in this case, would the broadcast's default center field camera angle prove insufficient in determining this call's Quality of Correctness? What camera angle—whether shown on television or not—would be most beneficial in adjudicating this play, given the first base umpire's on-field ruling?

Finally, what's your call, and, if you were to ascribe a QOC to West's balk call, what would it be?

Answer: Though it is debatable whether Cingrani made a motion naturally associated with his pitch, as in 6.02(a)(1), the answer lies in Cingrani's right foot, specifically where it settled relative to 6.02(a)(3)'s requirement that the pitcher balks if throwing to a base without stepping directly toward that base.

Taking a closer look at Cingrani's right foot, it returns to the mound somewhere in the vicinity of no-man's land between the plate and first base, but the clue as to where Cingrani was stepping toward is to single in on the direction of his foot: it is pointing toward the first base dugout.

Because the foot is pointing toward the dugout, Cingrani has failed to step directly toward first base before throwing to that base, which is a step balk, pursuant to Rule 6.02(a)(3).

Official Baseball Rules Library (Not all rules may apply to this particular play)
6.02(a): If there is a runner, or runners, it is a balk when:
6.02(a)(1)The pitcher, while touching his plate, makes any motion naturally associated with his pitch and fails to make such delivery.
6.02(a)(1) CommentIf a left-handed or right-handed pitcher swings his free foot past the back edge of the pitcher’s rubber, he is required to pitch to the batter except to throw to second base on a pick-off play.
6.02(a)(3)The pitcher, while touching his plate, fails to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base.
6.02(a)(3) Comment: Requires the pitcher, while touching his plate, to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base. If a pitcher turns or spins off of his free foot without actually stepping or if he turns his body and throws before stepping, it is a balk. because he steps. A pitcher is to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base and is required to throw (except to second base) because he steps.
6.02(a) Comment: Umpires should bear in mind that the purpose of the balk rule is to prevent the pitcher from deliberately deceiving the base runner. If there is doubt in the umpire’s mind, the “intent” of the pitcher should govern.
Related Post: UEFL Archive for Balk Ejections, Analyses, and Discussions.
Related PostRule 6.02(a): It is a balk when— (7/21/12).

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Cowboy Joe balks Cingrani's 8th inning pickoff in Los Angeles (CCS)


Post a Comment