In the arsenal of baseball pick-off moves, the fake-to-third, throw-to-first trick is as old as they come.
It almost never works. And starting next season, you may never see it again.
Major League Baseball’s Playing Rules Committee has approved a proposal that would make the move a balk, and the league’s executives and umpires are on board. So are left-handed pitchers.
“Besides, how often does it work? Maybe once in never.”
The players’ union vetoed the rule change for this season, but could approve the move for 2013.
In the current Official Baseball Rules, Rule 8.05 (c) states: “It is possible, with runners on first and third, for the pitcher to step toward third and not throw, merely to bluff the runner back to third; then seeing the runner on first start for second, turn and step toward and throw to first base. This is legal.”
Under the proposed change, a pitcher would have to step off the rubber before faking a throw to third base. If he faked the throw with his foot still on the rubber, it would be a balk.
But while the move may not result in frequent pick-offs, it remains a tool with which pitcher’s try to keep base-runners from stretching their leads.
“You’re not trying so much to get a guy off third,” Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “You’re not going to do that very often. But it can be a huge deterrent for the runner at first.”