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  1. Angel Hernandez chest bumped and put his hands on Buerhle. Is that an automatic suspension?

    Comment by Steve Balboni — May 26, 2010 @ 6:27 pm

  2. I love the smug look on Joe West’s face at the end of that clip. what a douche.

    Comment by Blue — May 26, 2010 @ 6:51 pm

  3. Sorry, but you can’t throw your glove down like that and expect to stay in the game… Is this Tanner from the Bad News Bears or a veteran pitcher?

    Regardless of whether the balk calls were right or wrong (and they were right – Buerhle and guys like Pettitte probably balk about 10-20% of the time on their throws over to first), you either ask the ump for clarification or just argue the call (or better yet get your manager to do it)… you don’t throw your glove down like a 6 year old and hurt the team by getting thrown out of the game.

    Joe West is a joke, but that shouldn’t enable others to act the same. It was hilarious to hear the White Sox homer announcers though – nothing is more fun then to listen to Hawk whine and complain when things don’t go the Pale Hose’s way.

    Comment by Hank — May 26, 2010 @ 7:05 pm

  4. The only thing that made that look even close to a balk is Buehrle looking at home plate when he threw over, which is what he always does anyways…

    If you look from the center field camera angle, his delivery was definitely different than his usual delivery. The leg definitely did not go towards home plate, it went towards first in a line that did not break the plane of the rubber.

    The funny thing is that Buehrle made the same move two times in that same plate appearance before the ejection they all looked identical (except the first, which was a blatant “bad” move. That just told me that Buehrle was playing around with West and West, being the total d-bag he is, decided it wasn’t funny and that he was going to look for anything Buehrle does to eject him and throwing his glove down softly was enough.

    The problem is, if Buehrle can get thrown out for tossing the glove on the ground softly, why didn’t Ted Lilly get thrown out for slamming his glove into the ground after he allowed home run in the 07 NLDS? It could be inferred that he was disgusted at the strike zone and that he was arguing with his actions. These rules are so damn open to opinion, you can twist them just about any way you want.

    Umpires have too much power. Their egos are almost beyond reproach. That’s a serious problem. In a time where there are cameras that can plot pitch location and velocity and instant replay for almost everything in every other sport, it’s time for baseball to look into these things and take some damn action. Ozzie’s right for once, MLB doesn’t do shit.

    Comment by BaconSlayer09 — May 26, 2010 @ 7:27 pm

  5. Sorry, but if that classifies as “throwing” your glove, then what kind of suspension should Ted Lily have gotten?

    The justification is that really good lefties like Buehrle probably balk all the time, and just like traveling or offensive holding it gets enforced at odd moments.

    Comment by dickey simpkins — May 26, 2010 @ 7:33 pm

  6. So what?

    Buehrle’s a professional… the blog talks about the ump being irresponsible, but right or wrong, isn’t Buerhle just as irresponsible for acting the way he did?

    Again 2 wrongs don’t make a right. Sure Joe West should have had a thicker skin… but why is that same logic not also applied to Buehrle? Where was his thick skin?

    Comment by Hank — May 26, 2010 @ 8:04 pm

  7. in sports, as outside of sports, justice ain’t blind; you must consider this in the context of the player’s reputation and the ump’s reputiation. here, it’s crystal clear: Buehrle is one of the class acts of MLB, has never been involved with an ump in his career, and has established his pickoff move as one of the best in the league. The ump is a know idiot, agitator, and will likely be disciplined by Bud Selig. No contest here.

    Comment by suck this ===) — May 26, 2010 @ 9:44 pm

  8. And again… Buerhle agitated him… a class act wouldn’t toss his glove to the ground like a child because he disagrees with a call. He doesn’t get tossed if he acts like the “class act” you say he is. Joe West was wrong… but Buehrle shouldn’t have given him a chance to be wrong.

    I have no problem with dicsiplining Joe West – the guy is an idiot. Does Buehrle not know this and realize perhaps baiting him is not the best idea? What if he did what he did after a couple of egregious marginal ball/strike calls… would that be OK?

    I’m not defending Joe West, I’m criticizing Buehrle for overreacting – they BOTH were wrong.

    Comment by Hank — May 26, 2010 @ 10:14 pm

  9. that should be egregeious OR marginal

    Comment by Hank — May 26, 2010 @ 10:16 pm

  10. hank sounds to me like you might be a loser cub fan

    Comment by billy baru — May 26, 2010 @ 11:06 pm

  11. It’s not a balk. Plenty of official rules are ignored in pro ball: bodychecking the catcher should technically be an automatic out, most slide-tackles to break up the double-play are illegal, and the major league strike-zone doesn’t really resemble the strike-zone in the rulebook. And plenty of rules are invented for pro ball, too, like the ‘proximity rule’ on the double-play when a SS or 2B doesn’t actually touch the base isn’t anywhere in the rulebook.

    Which is simply to say that convention is as good as a rule – if Buehrle’s move is not called 99% of the time, even if it doesn’t adhere to the letter of the rule, then it’s not a balk. I’d even contend that his move adheres to the spirit of the rule, which is more important – a balk is an illegal ‘deception’ penalty, and if Buehrle’s pick-off leg motion is discernably and consistently different from his pitching leg motion, then the argument that he’s illegally deceiving the runner is harder to prove.

    Comment by Neil — May 26, 2010 @ 11:07 pm

  12. It’s clearly a balk. He stepped toward home and threw to first. That it’s hardly ever called doesn’t make it not a balk. It’s a balk and balks like that should be called much more often than they are.

    Comment by chuckb — May 26, 2010 @ 11:42 pm

  13. My gut reaction is to say that he deserved to be ejected. He clearly threw his glove to the ground in response to an umpire’s call. Moreover, it’s one of those calls, like balls and strikes, that is supposed to be an automatic ejection for arguing. On the other hand, umpires let stuff go like this all the time. While you rarely see a player throw his glove in response to a call, batters throw their bats or helmets in response to called third strikes all the time, to little effect. They may get chastised by the ump, but they’re rarely ejected unless they obviously slam it to the ground and show up the umpire.

    West could’ve clearly let that go, and probably should have, and simply warned Buehrle rather than tossing him. Buehrle clearly could’ve been more demonstrative than he was and it probably would’ve been a better move for West to just let it go w/ a warning this time.

    Comment by chuckb — May 26, 2010 @ 11:47 pm

  14. Seriously, how much longer until we get computers to do this job? I know it will take a new commissioner, but one’s coming in the next 5 years, right?

    Comment by Nate is not nice — May 26, 2010 @ 11:51 pm

  15. ROBOTS!

    Comment by The Typical Idiot Fan — May 27, 2010 @ 12:37 am

  16. chuckb,

    Agreed. It’s about time someone started calling that damned move a balk.

    8.05a says: “The pitcher, while touching his plate, makes any motion naturally associated with his pitch and fails to make such delivery;”

    and 8.05c says: “The pitcher, while touching his plate, fails to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base”

    Most of the time when I see a lefty make this move, they’re stepping towards a position to the right of first base, to an area wherein if we were to draw a straight line from where the foot lands, would be pointing somewhere into the dugout.

    Furthermore, there is a comment left by MLB regarding this rule:

    “Rule 8.05 Comment: Umpires should bear in mind that the purpose of the balk rule is to prevent the pitcher from deliberately deceiving the base runner. If there is doubt in the umpire’s mind, the “intent” of the pitcher should govern.”

    The whole idea behind this maneuver is to deceive and, thus, mitigate the running game. The runner on first base has to wait to see if the pitcher has stepped completely towards home in order to move off base. Otherwise, they run the risk of being picked off if the pitcher decides, instead, to make that 3/4ths move towards home. This is a balk in the most sincere analysis of the rule. But even if the umpire isn’t sure, the pitcher isn’t doing it to do anything but get the runner out. Ergo, even if he umpire isn’t sure, the fucking pitcher sure as hell is.

    Every umpire should call this. That they don’t has allowed this to become an accepted part of a left hander’s arsenal. It is another testament to why the umpires need to actually adhere to the damned rules of the game, and not be allowed to determine their own rules.

    Comment by The Typical Idiot Fan — May 27, 2010 @ 1:03 am

  17. Convention is something that applies to everyone, not to a select few people who have developed a reputation. A lefty rookie pitcher or one with a couple years in the league does not get away with the what Buehrle and Pettitte get away with.

    I think what you are referring to is conditioning as opposed to convention… you do something enough and people stop caring or calling it. It’s like LeBron’s “crab” dribble (aka travelling) in the NBA or or an elite WR getting away with lightly pushing off a CB in football. Or it’s like Greg Maddux and Glavine getting a 23inch plate to work with because they’re known as a control pitchers… you keep throwing that ball just off the corner and eventually the ump will give in… and when he does you move the ball another inch or two and see if you can get that. That essentially is what Buehrle and Pettitte have done over the years – once you get the reputation for a good pickoff move you keep moving that landing foot further toward homeplate..

    Comment by joe — May 27, 2010 @ 1:04 am

  18. Not to defend the glove drop, but from what we saw on television, West was the instigator. For the first balk, obviously Buehrle was surprised and upset with the call, but he really didn’t react very strongly. He quickly turned back toward the plate to resume pitching. Several seconds later, he turned around again because West was yelling something at him, they exchanged remarks across the infield, and then Ozzie came out. I don’t know what was said, and it’s possible that Buehrle said some choice words right before turning to the plate, but it sure looked like West was the one making an incident. It looked like Buehrle got over that call before the argument even started.

    Of course, it’s hard to tell, because Hawk Harrelson was overemphasizing everything and ranting about what a disgrace to the umpiring profession West was, and that may have colored my memory. (Hawk was convinced that West had planned to eject Ozzie today. “That balk wasn’t called on Buehrle. That balk was called on Ozzie.” But that’s Hawk.) And I can’t pretend to be unbiased.

    Then on the second call, the glove drop was a bit much, but again, it was an initial reaction and it was mild, and it did not look very defiant towards the umpire.

    Comment by Newcomer — May 27, 2010 @ 2:18 am

  19. I understand Buehrle’s frustrAtion. In college I was ejected for contesting a balk. I had picked of 2 runners in the game already and their coach was going ape-poop. I picked off a 3rd guy and the balk was called. Since in college there are only 2 umps and he was positioned between me and second base, I asked what I did. “Too deceptive” was the reply.

    I said “that’s the point” and asked what I did differently this time and was told I was deceiving the runner. I asked for specifics and was tossed.

    I don’t have any qualms about the rule, or that lefties can no longer “hang our leg”, what I do contest is the application of the balk call. Too often it seems to be the result of a guess or in response to protests by the first base coach.

    The balk call falls in line with 3rd to 1st move, the breakup slide, taking too long in the box, catcher visits to the mound, batter steps outs, etc in that it’s up to the Ump’s mood or whim.

    As for Buehrle flipping his glove to the ground, that pales in comparison to the regular arguing of calls that players do and get to remain in the game. MOD, Mark looked stunned that he had been tossed. One of my buddies is a former AAA ump and the things said to umps is aweful, but so are their stories of sticking it to a player or making a bad call just to make a point.

    Comment by Circlechange11 — May 27, 2010 @ 2:36 am

  20. The second “balk” wasn’t a balk- it was an illicit revenge call. West should be suspended for 30 days without pay for violating the terms of his employment.

    Comment by JayCee — May 27, 2010 @ 6:22 am

  21. I was a pitcher in college too (D3). When called for a balk, we were taught to ask for an explanation by speaking to the ump as opposed to doing something like playfully dropping a glove or even something even more benign like walking to the back of the mound, taking off my hat and squatting down for more than a few seconds (as I have seen other folks in D3 do as a form of protest). I had this crazy thought that the umpire might not actually understand the intent of my playfulness and perhaps takes it as a slight..

    Generally speaking, we were warned that throwing or dropping any equipment (helmet, bat, glove) in direct response to a call was unacceptable, but I’m sure some AAA deems it within the acceptable norms – though I’m not sure what any of that has to do with the Major leagues. In Division III, the goal was not to revert to the lowest common denominator for how we carried ourselves and I don’t understand the “others have gotten away with worse” is a valid argument. Our coach had this notion that just because others acted a certain way it did not justify our team behaving similarly (regardless of whether they got away with the behavior or not)

    It’s not a crime against humanity, but Buehrle could have turned the other cheek. West’s response to Buehrle’s response was over the top, but Buehrle didn’t help the situation with the glove toss and enabled West to do the absurd. And if stories of umps sticking it to players are true, that’s even more reason not to do what Buehrle did – if West didn’t have it in for him already, he may have pushed his button enough to lose the benefit of the doubt on future calls, and if he already did have it in for Buehrle this will only cement that even more.

    Comment by frank — May 27, 2010 @ 6:52 am

  22. Note that as far as deception goes, the runner wasn’t fooled by this move at all and easily stepped back to first. The baserunner also seemed surprised by the call. So none of the players involved in the play seemed to think anything like a balk had happened. That said, if his move is technically a balk, then it should be called every time until he stops doing it.

    I recall a Blue Jays lefty years ago who had a “great” move to first, that at some point the umps decided was a balk (probably correctly). They kept calling it on him, and I recall that bascially being the end of the pitcher’s MLB career, as he had marginal stuff and keeping runners close and pickoffs were a big part of why he was able to survive. Chris Michalak I think..

    I would love to see balks systematically enforced by all umps, but more likely in the next game Buerhle will use the same move and not get called.

    Comment by aweb — May 27, 2010 @ 8:13 am

  23. I have to disagree with one point in the article. I have no opinions on whether or not it a balk and/or an ejection are correct calls.Having said that, the contention that different rules should apply to different players is, well, perhaps not entirely uncontroversial. Is there any reason why a starting pitcher should have more leeway then say a utility player? Rules regarding conduct and sportsmanship are there for a reason, and that reason is, as far as I can tell, immaterial to the consequences for the team. Judging a star pitcher or hitter with different standards is a very slippery slope. In my view, an action either is or is not an ejection, the probability of altering the outcome of a game should not matter to our standards of sportsmanship.

    Comment by Simpson — May 27, 2010 @ 8:17 am

  24. his front foot crossed his back foot/leg/rubber. thats a balk. its intent to go home. if he stopped just short of it he would of been fine. but he went every so slightly. get a new move.

    Comment by Jamie — May 27, 2010 @ 8:51 am

  25. not on the second one- not even close.

    Comment by JayCee — May 27, 2010 @ 9:23 am

  26. Ok, this is just theory, but in the major sports you have plays- touchdowns, goals, baskets, and all the plays that lead up to them. Baseball has balls in play that lead to outs or baserunners or runs. But you also have a LOT of pitches per game that do not lead to balls in play (the percentages I do not know); the umpire has a tremendous effect on those events, which affect that game and everything else associated with the result of that game; it could be however he is DECIDING to call the strikezone that day, whatever undisclosed “code” he is enforcing, or however he is feeling or whatever. We are left to hope that over 162 games “it will all even out” for that team but that is hooey. There are target standards- the basket is 10 feet high, the end zones are 100 yards apart, the goal net is exactly so, but in baseball the strikezone floats around like a butterfly and we are supposed to accept it.

    Kids today see that and gravitate to other sports (and for other reasons too). They don’t care about unions, Rotarians, Johnny Tremain, or some cement overshoes held over from some traditional past. They simply think “Why doesn’t MLB have a standard, exact strikezone? We have the technology, and the umps can stay and help out with all the other calls on the field. How ancient, dude!”

    The events yesterday with the White Sox are just another example of how an ump can affect a game, with reverberations beyond. The NFL ref can look at the play and see if the quarterback’s arm was moving forward before the ball came out, or the NHL ref can check to see if the puck made it in the net zone; MLB umps don’t WANT to use the technology to make the right call, which does not represent their motives too kindly.

    Comment by chongo — May 27, 2010 @ 10:27 am

  27. Ted Lilly’s display was just about his own performance, no? I mean that was pure hilarity, so it should be allowed.

    Comment by buck turgidson — May 27, 2010 @ 11:11 am

  28. “Suspended for 30 days without pay” – speaking of illicit revenge calls…

    Comment by Pot, Meet Kettle! — May 27, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

  29. West is certainly out of bounds on a couple of measures. I’m not going to criticize the balk call itself, because I’ve been waiting for that to be called a balk for years, and Buehrle has the right to raise an eyebrow at something that HASN’T been called a balk for years. West, however, didn’t let it end there. Buehrle probably asked him what he did (did I cross my legs? Did I not step to first enough? etc). I would think the pitcher should have the right to know what rule he broke, as long as he doesn’t question the ruling itself. West, though, apparently didn’t like Buehrle’s attitude about the whole thing (and we don’t really know what Mark said, he could have said something disrespectful).

    However, things get interesting when Ozzie came out. If Ozzie’s not lying (and I see no reason to accuse him of such; Ozzie has been a straight shooter for years), then he was coming out to find out what the beef was between West and Buehrle (which he’s allowed to do, especially to protect his pitcher). West, though, dismissed Ozzie several times, with obvious hand gestures that were incredibly disrespectful to whatever Ozzie wanted to talk about. Ozzie, naturally, got upset about West treating him with such little empathy, and West tossed him right after Ozzie questioned the marital status of West’s parents.

    The second balk call then became a gratuitous attempt at annoying Buehrle. Buehrle reacted about as negatively as one could expect, and gave West the excuse to toss him. The thing about both ejections and all this incident is that the players and coaches gave West an excuse to throw them out of the game. Even if West baited both of them and provoked a response, it is still up to the others to not fall into an obvious trap. As such, I don’t have much sympathy for Ozzie or Mark being tossed, but I certainly understand their frustration and anger. West should also be rebuked by major league baseball for turning a minor incident into a circus.

    Comment by The Typical Idiot Fan — May 27, 2010 @ 3:03 pm

  30. “Others have gotten away with worse” is absolutely a valid excuse. It is clear to the most casual observer that the rules are not black and white, but open to interpretation. The neighborhood play, the strike zone, a check swing, taking out the pivot on the double play, turning into a HBP, all grey areas. A consistent interpretation of the rules is necessary for everybody to play by the same set of rules.

    In other words, if everybody is flying by you in the left lane at 70 mph, how do you feel about being pulled over for 65?

    Comment by MikeS — May 27, 2010 @ 3:38 pm

  31. The thing is that my move was a balk. When I raised my leg my next move was not a step to first but lowering my leg as if I were delivering a pitch and then glided my foot to the 45 degree line (even 65 degrees on occassion) and then walk toward 1b after the throw.

    I could explain to the ump why it was a balk, but the ump refused to give any specifics. My contention was that I felt the call was a result of the coach barking, and not as a result of anything the umpire saw. If the ump would have said ” you’re lowering your leg instead of moving toward first” or “you’re darn near stepping toward home and throwing to first” I would have been able to object to anything. But that never happened.

    Comment by Circlechange11 — May 27, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

  32. Great analogy (seriously)… I ‘d feel like I was above the speed limit and I’m pissed off that I was the one pulled over, but in the end I broke the speed limit and how can I argue that?

    And as upset as I might be about getting pulled over I would not spit on the ground in front of the officer out of frustration, or toss my license out the window instead of handing it to him. I would be upset, but I would take the ticket and not escalate things.

    If fact what I would probably do (as most other normal people would) would be to ask why the officer pulled me over when others were going faster…. and that is EXACTLY what Buehrle should have done. Go ask the umpire what was wrong, how it was different than his other moves that weren’t called balks…. but don’t take transfer your glove to your throwing hand and then toss it to the ground.

    The speeding thing was a great analogy of what Buehrle did wrong actually.

    Comment by frank — May 27, 2010 @ 6:16 pm

  33. It shouldn’t be a judgment call. Umpires have pretty much set the standard for what a balk is, and even if lots of Buehrles moves are “technically” balks, umpires have already made it clear the MLB wants them to be more lenient. So, basically even if West thinks it’s a balk, if it’s a close play and other umpires wouldn’t call it then he shouldn’t. That’s totally inconsistent umpiring and the game shouldn’t be so based upon an umpires judgment. There’s definately a general standard that’s been set by umpires on how lenient balk calls should be and I think it’s unfair for West to think he can call his own game regardless of how normal umps call them.

    It’s kinda like what MikeS said, “technically” a strike is from the armpits to the knees (or whatever), but Ive never seen an umpire call that high. Then one umpire can’t start calling high pitches at the armpits just because he claims “it’s part of the rules, look it up.” If there’s a pickoff move that 99% of umps won’t call balk on, it shouldn’t be considered a balk; the umps have already shown him he’s safe using it. That’s totally Wests fault, he’s creating his own method of calling and he was looking for trouble.

    Comment by Anonymous — July 6, 2010 @ 1:08 am

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