Sunday, June 6, 2010

Buck, Buck, Buck... BALK!

I'm having trouble getting my hands around the concept of a balk in baseball, or an illegal pitch in softball, which I'm going to call a balk even though the umpires don't. A balk cost the Arizona Diamondbacks a game to Los Angeles last week. Several balk calls helped doom the Arizona Wildcat softball team in their opening game of the NCAA regionals in Oklahoma City, leaving head coach Mike Candrea rightfully miffed.

Put simply, a balk results from a pitcher making some sort of weird move, or stepping off the "rubber" at the wrong time, or faking a throw to somebody. I can understand umpires and batters not wanting a fake pitch, but I can't think of a good reason why the pitcher's position during the pitch or before the pitch should make a difference just as long as said pitcher doesn't come charging off the mound with the ball. Some baseball purist will come out of the dugout and wring my neck, but I still won't get it. One person told me the balk rule is there because illegal moves affect the batter's timing, but so does a wicked fastball.

I just got an idea. Why don't we train a major league pitcher with Cirque du Soleil? Let him contort his body into ten different positions before he releases the ball. If it doesn't frustrate the batters, it will at least lead to more bunts. Maybe it will speed up the game like some people want, without getting rid of a couple of innings or taking away a few outs.

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