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The staff has some recommendations to bolster rules enforcement and call accuracy in Major League Baseball.

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Watching 50 balks to get a read on an imprecise rule, arbitrarily applied.

“I never called a balk in my life. I didn't understand the rule.” Ron Luciano, former major-league umpire

For all the talk about how complicated the infield fly rule is, it’s got nothing on the balk. The balk is, as I’ve always heard it said, more of a philosophy—“Don’t deceive the runner”— than a strict set of rules. Which is nuts, because deception is part of the game and always part of the pitcher’s attempt to hold a runner on. Varying how many looks a pitcher takes at the runner is deceptive, for instance, but certainly no balk. So “don’t deceive the runner in particularly defined ways” is more appropriate, but if these ways are particularly defined … well, now we’re out of philosophy and into a strict set of rules, after all. Do the rules make sense? Are they understandable, identifiable? Can we understand them and identify them? Let’s GIF* it a shot.

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When it comes to determining the actual upper and lower boundaries of the zone, pitchers may have more to tell us than the players at the plate.

Three months ago, I investigated the nature of the major-league strike zone, focusing on its inside and outside boundaries. I concluded that the location of a pitch relative to the catcher’s target had a significant impact on the umpire’s likelihood of calling a strike. This article will examine the top and bottom boundaries of the strike zone.

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May 7, 2003 12:00 am

Behind the Mask Q&A

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Jason Grady

Baseball Prospectus: Where in the rulebook does it say? a) Tie goes to the runner. Jim Evans: It doesn't. It states that a runner is out IF the defensive team tags him or his base BEFORE he reaches it. The implication is if the tag doesn't occur first (not at the same time or after), the runner would be safe. BP: b) A check swing is a strike if the batter breaks his wrists. JE: The wrists are never mentioned in the rulebook. A swinging strike is based solely on the umpire's judgment of whether or not the batter committed to the pitch. Check swings are very difficult calls. Base umpires are often able to make more accurate decisions on check swings because their attention can be focused solely on the bat since they are not obligated to call the pitch. BP: c) The hands are part of the bat. JE: This is another misconception. The hands are NOT part of the bat. If a pitched ball hits the hands and the batter did not attempt to swing, it is a hit batsman. If a pitched ball hits the hands as he swings, it is a strike and the ball is dead. Reference: Rule 2.00 Strike (e.)

Baseball Prospectus: Where in the rulebook does it say? a) Tie goes to the runner.

Jim Evans: It doesn't. It states that a runner is out IF the defensive team tags him or his base BEFORE he reaches it. The implication is if the tag doesn't occur first (not at the same time or after), the runner would be safe.

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December 20, 2002 6:42 pm

Franchise Location

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Doug Pappas

Major League Baseball's governing documents aren't intended for public consumption..

Major League Baseball's governing documents aren't intended for public consumption. But when I recently spent two quality hours with a 1999 edition of the Major League Agreement and Major League Rules, I took detailed notes of certain key provisions. I don't think any of these sections have been amended since then.

Orioles' owner Peter Angelos has repeatedly warned MLB against moving the Montreal Expos to Washington, D.C. or northern Virginia. But can he stop the move? That may depend on where the club would play.

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