In this local league, balks are called in the 10-11 year-old division. Recently a youngster was observed making what may have been a ‘nervous’ tick when came to the SET position with men on base. He actually SHRUGGED BOTH SHOULDERS (the old “I don’t know gesture”) before throwing home. He did this consistently on EVERY pitch from the SET position with men on base. What is the call, if any?
So the answer is that there is no direct rule to call a balk, if the umpire would consider it as a breach of any of the following rules, then it’s a balk. Of course it’s a judgement call and there is no definative answer. Here is a part of the MLB rule book.
After assuming Set Position, any natural motion associated with his delivery of the ball to the batter commits him to the pitch without alteration or interruption.
(Shrug could be considered part of his delivery of the ball, did he stop afterwards or did he start to pitch right away? Since he did it every time as you say then I would assume that it would just be part of his delivery of the ball to home)
If there is a runner, or runners, it is a balk when –
(a) The pitcher, while touching his plate, makes any motion naturally associated with his pitch and fails to make such delivery;
(g) The pitcher makes any motion naturally associated with his pitch while he is not touching the pitcher’s plate;
After shrugging his shoulders from the SET POSITION, he came to a complete STOP every time, before deliver to home OR to the base where a runner was. By YOUR explanation, if the “shrugging” was part of his normal delivery to the plate, then it would be a balk if he incorporated that “shrug” just before throwing to a runner-occupied base. Correct?
Yep, here is what I would have done, when I picked that action up during a game, I would have a conversation with blue about it and that you were going to send your runners on that action since it was a commitment to home, if he picked to base you might get a balk call then. At 11 and 12 I don’t know how strict they would be though, a lot of leagues and even AA will go for a warning 1st time and a balk on the same offense second time.
I would get my base runners on their horses and steal on that action!
Thanks… Those were all OUTSTANDING answers and really helped me.
You welcome…good luck!