Major League Baseball recently prohibited a pitcher’s fake throw to third, followed by a pickoff attempt at first. It’s now a balk.
“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball,” noted character Terence Mann in the movie Field of Dreams. So, leave the rules alone. Speed up the game — an aim of the new ruling — through other measures that don’t affect how the game is played.
Baseball pundits claim as the basis for outlawing balks is their attempt to “deceive” a player on the team at bat.
But isn’t deception part of the game? Is a particular “balk” any less deceiving than throwing a change-up or an outfielder’s bluff that he can catch a ball well over his head in an attempt to hold a runner? In a first and third steal attempt, how about an apparent throw to second that’s cut off in an attempt to nail the lead runner? Should baseball outlaw the rarely-used (but always exciting and ethically controversial) ‘hidden ball trick?’
I say, let ’em play.