[quote=“Odin”]This one is interesting. While most people would simply say that it is a balk because it “looks so wrong,” we need to see where the rules disallow such a movement. The high school rules are more specific, but I do not have a rule book on me, so I will try to say this is a balk using the MLB rules:
Rule 8.01 (b) (partial): "The Set Position shall be indicated by the pitcher when he stands facing the batter with his pivot foot in contact with, and his other foot in front of, the pitcher’s plate, holding the ball in both hands in front of his body and coming to a complete stop. From such Set Position he may deliver the ball to the batter, throw to a base or step backward off the pitcher’s plate with his pivot foot."
So, we know that the pitcher can do three things from the set position: pitch, throw to a base, or step backward off the rubber. I would say that the key word in the third option is “step,” not “hop.” So, that the hop should not be allowed under the third thing a pitcher can do which is step backward off the rubber. Now, what about the second thing a pitcher can do? Throw to a base. Can the hop be considered throwing to a base? Here is where I see a problem using MLB rules.
Rule 8.01 ©: “At any time during the pitcher’s preliminary movements and until his natural pitching motion commits him to the pitch, he may throw to any base provided he steps directly toward such base before making the throw.” So, I would say that the hop is sandwiched between being in the set position and throwing to a base, which cannot happen because from the set position, one can only do three things, one of which is not “hop off the rubber before throwing to a base.” I am not happy with this explanation, though because it would seem to disallow the obviously legal “jab step” to first.
The high school rules are more specific–discussing which foot can be moved first and what the pitcher can do when moving that foot. For example, in the “jab step” the foot that is moved first is the right foot (for a righty) and the high school rules allow stepping backward off the rubber or “moving it in a jump step to throw to first,” (the jab step). The movements allowed with the left foot (for a righty) are to pitch or to step and throw directly to a base. Since the move discussed above involves moving the left foot first, the hop is illegal because the pitcher neither stepped directly toward a base with the left foot before the hop nor did he pitch. So, I would say definitely a balk by high school rules and less certain (but still a balk in my opinion) using MLB rules.[/quote]
the rule book means absolutely nothing if no umpire calls in a game. if it’s always called, then it’s a balk despite what the rule book says or doesn’t say.