MLB has announced that it has finally decided to rule the fake throw to third and then a move to throw to another base, typically first, as a balk. The divide of opinions on this baseball play is not as great as that over the Designated Hitter rule, but the move has irked people such as former Cubs television broadcaster Bob Brenly for some time now.
An attempt to change the rule in the past was turned down by the players association, but the decision to make the change in time for the 2013 season was made unilaterally by the league this time around per the collective bargaining agreement. Apparently most managers disliked the rule in favor of another attempt to speed up the action in the game of baseball that continues to appear “slow” compared to the other major sports. The main argument against the trick move is that the intent is to deceive the runner, which is the rule book definition of a balk.
However, the move worked so rarely that actually getting picked off from it became more of a dubious base running mistake by the runner than a strategic defensive maneuver. The rule change does not figure to affect the Cubs pitching staff much, as the move was not really a regular part of any of the team’s pitchers’ arsenal.
Apr 30, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Chicago Cubs pitcher Chris Volstad (32) protests a balk call during the sixth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Cubs 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
A few believe the rule change will tilt a bit in the favor of the base runner at first. For a team the is continually working to implement base running into the club DNA, it will be interesting to see if Cubs base runners will get a boost in their stolen base totals. With Tony Campana being on the fringe of the outfield depth chart, Starlin Castro would be the projected team leader in bag swipes for 2013.