MLB Might Outlaw Fake-To-Third, Throw-To-First Move

Jordan Walden of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim celebrates with teammate Erick Aybar after defeating the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Angels defeated the Yankees 6-4. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

It's currently legal for pitchers to fake a throw to third base, then whirl and try to pick a runner off first. Soon, though, MLB might institute a rule change that would call that move a balk.

You've seen it dozens of times, if not hundreds. Runners on first and third. Suddenly, the pitcher fakes a throw to third base, then whirls, trying to catch the runner on first breaking to second!

It almost never works, although it's currently permitted under baseball's rule 8.05(c):

"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."

Here, though, is one example of when the move did work -- for the Angels' Jordan Walden against the Yankees' Curtis Granderson on August 9, 2011. And for the final out of the game, no less:

The Angels pulled it off again last month, again against the Yankees, this time with Ervin Santana on the mound and Brett Gardner the victim:

If you are, however, tired of seeing pitchers slow games down by attempting this move, Major League Baseball might be coming to your rescue:

Major League Baseball is poised to pick off the much-maligned move, the fake-to-third, throw-to-first ploy that often succeeds only in getting the whole ballpark to shout "Balk!"

"I think they should get rid of it," Yankees reliever Boone Logan said. "Us lefties can't do that. If we do, they call a balk."

"Besides, how often does it work? Maybe once in never," he said.

The Playing Rules Committee has approved a proposal to make it a balk, too, with MLB executives and umpires in agreement. The players' union vetoed the plan for this season to discuss it further. MLB is allowed to implement the change after a one-year wait -- no telling whether that would happen if players strongly object.

Under the new wording, a pitcher could not fake to third unless he first stepped off the rubber.

Hey, Mike Scioscia! Your team is the one that pulled off both the successful moves shown here. How do you feel about this strategy possibly being taken away from you?

Scioscia is a member of Commissioner Bud Selig's panel for on-field issues. Would Scioscia be sorry to see the play tossed?

"I don't know if `sorry' is the right word. It means you'll just have to find another way to control the running game," he said.

He's right. Good teams figure out ways to adjust. If this rule is indeed changed for 2013, the good ones will find a way. And the rest of us will enjoy games that are just a bit faster-paced.

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