Not the same but CLIFF LEE!

In the grand tradition of empty gestures, the powers that be at Major League Baseball confirmed that the “fake to third, throw to first” pick off move is now illegal. Unsurprisingly, this lead to an outcry from pitchers and catchers the world over, lamenting the loss of their favorite and most effective tool for neutralizing the potent running game of baseball’s best bag thieves.

Except that didn’t happen at all. Much like the decision to allow HGH blood tests, this is another move for the sake of making a move – a lame attempt at a winning some PR points without upsetting the apple cart.

The decision to ban this pickoff feint was made in the name of speeding up the game? Really? That cannot be serious. It isn’t the only change to the fringes of the rulebook for 2013.

Jayson Stark of ESPN has the latest on the proposed rule changes, noting a seventh coach in uniform will be permitted in the dugout and interpreters are allowed during mound visits! It’s all about speeding up the game, people! The changes received approval at the recent owners meetings but require the go-ahead from the players association before they become law. Well, “law”.

There is no harm in making any these rule changes – just as there is little benefit. The fake throw play is now a balk, though it remains to be seen if umpires are under further instruction to call all the other balks which go unnoticed in the average big league game.

No word on whether the league will go after the Red Sox, whose pitchers continually rank at the bottom of the pace leaderboard maintained by Fangraphs. The real culprits are out there, instructing their pitchers to stall and dawdle and waste everyone’s precious time when they are on the mound.

Meanwhile, the league sleuths crack down on fake throws designed to dupe the dimmest of base runners. Who says bureaucracy and red tape don’t work?

And the rest

What Timmy needs: to stop throwing the ball over the middle of the damn plate, apparently. [Fangraphs]

Bryce Harper is a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live tonight. Because when I think of great late night TV, I think of Mormon teenagers. [Washington Post]

The Oakland A’s extended the contract of Bob Melvin, rewarding the manager who lead the Athletics to a shock AL West title with two more years. [SF Chron's Drumbeat blog]

Rob Neyer goes off on the idea that Jack Morris suffers because of the Internet [SB Nation]

Harvey Araton of the New York Times wants the media out of the baseball player honoring business. [Bats]

Heath Bell has a house.

Pray for Nyjer. His twitter account was “hacked” in that he done messed up. [BLS]

Knuckleballing prospects are the new inefficiency. They all swear an oath to work with Tim Wakefield to hone their craft. [ProJo]

Five 2012 seasons that were better than your realized. [Brisbee]

Sponsored content on Getting Blanked? Get my fainting couch! [Satire is dead]

Robbie Cano struggles against lefties now? Is nothing sacred? [Baseball Prospectus]

The top 15 prospects in the Los Angels Angels system. The worst in baseball but Mike Trout is the best player in baseball and is younger than NINE of these stiffs. [Fangraphs]

Comments (5)

  1. A fun little tidbit: The Jays picked up the 2 fastest pitchers ranked by Fangraphs. Buehrle and Dickey are #88 and #87, respectively, on that list.

  2. They would make this rule the same offseason the Jays get Mark Buehrle

  3. I’ve never understood baseball’s problem with ‘deception’ as part of the game. What’s wrong with tricking a player into getting out? It’s the same deal with the infield fly rule. Wouldn’t it be kind of exciting to see a player deliberately drop a ball in order to get a double play using the force out? In what way is popping up less of a ‘mistake’ by the batter than grounding to the shortstop?

    There’s all kinds of potential for the players to screw up and the unexpected to happen in a good way if you allow ‘deception’ in the game. I don’t even really see the point of the balk … if you don’t want to get caught stealing, then don’t try to steal. Why shouldn’t the pitcher use every option to stop people advancing?

    Isn’t all that preferable to an umpire using purely subjective judgement about when a ball is an infield fly and when it is not – as we saw in October, or calling some balks but not others?

    Yeah … if you want to speed the game up, do the obvious … don’t let the players leave the batters box during an at-bat, and give the pitchers a hard time limit and throw them out of the game if they go over it.

  4. They should just ban mound visits that are not for pitching changes or medical reasons. They can talk in the dugout. That would speed the game up so much (particularly if Jose Molina is catching).

    Would it disadvantage the pitcher/catcher? Probably, but that’s fine. They should have their shit together to start with.

  5. I’m mostly a traditionalist – because I like the idea that today’s players play by the same rules everyone has (more or less) for the last 100 years. With some exceptions though (expand replay please!). The 3rd-to-1st thingy is a pretty pointless change for the sake of making a change, and on those grounds, I oppose it.

    I’ll bet there will be a subtle unintended consequence for this: Look for more 2-out attempted double steals when runners on 1st & 3rd. (Runner on 1st tries to draw a throw and get in a rundown etc.) – less chance of getting picked off, and pitchers are unlikely to hold the runner on 3rd close, because if they motion to throw over there, they have to throw over there, and the runner on 1st may take off.

    On a completely unrelated note, if you’re interested in Ty Cobb, his mom and dad, and guns, this is pretty interesting (h/t @colbycosh)..

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