“Hate all the new rules on pitchers at once” “1988 all over again” 

Adding to all the new MLB rules to be implemented in 2023, there is a caution that more balks may be en route as well. According to a report by MLB insider Jesse Rogers, the league will be cracking down on pitchers coming to a full stop before delivering the ball to the plate this season.

It’s not exactly a new rule that a pitcher is supposed to make a clear halt before proceeding to pitch the ball, but it has been a guideline relatively left to the whims of the home plate umpire. The rulebook says that unless the pitcher comes to a stop, a balk will be awarded.

Some hurlers have often been accused of “bouncing” the ball in glove off their leg rather than actual stop before rocking to the plate, and most major leaguers are unclear as to what will be called a balk when it happens.

There’s a good chance more balks are going to be called this season. MLB is cracking down on coming to a full stop in order to make things clear for pitch clock operators and umpires. Essentially, ‘bouncing’ with that front leg is a balk. Think Kevin Gausman.

Going forward, Rogers, who covers MLB for ESPN Chicago, notes that the league wants a clear stop from the hurler “in order to make things clear for pitch clock operators and umpires.”

Unlike many of the other guidelines coming into play this season, baseball fans seem fairly pleased at this most current report.

I don’t care what the rule is, just call the rule. MLB umps have spent decades making stuff up as they go. twitter.com/jesserogersesp…

This is good, pitchers have been getting away with this for too long. It’s a balk and should be called. twitter.com/jesserogersesp…

Good. This became an incredibly inconsistent call/non-call last year, which was annoying because it was one of the VERY few situations where I can actually tell what a balk is. twitter.com/jesserogersesp…

While the “cracking down” is connected to the new rules regarding the pitch clock, many fans are not pleased at the sheer number of rules, guidelines, enforcement, etc., that is all happening at once. Many think what’s wrong with spacing all this out over a few seasons, rather than piling it all on 2023?

@JesseRogersESPN Hate all the new rules on pitchers at once.Love this rule if it’s clear and enforced. Stops pitchers from turning the mound into a dance stage every pitch.

I don’t think the constant major rule changes are really necessary twitter.com/JesseRogersESP…

Now THIS is how you get kids to start watching baseball. Thank you Rob 🙏 twitter.com/jesserogersesp…

An older generation of MLB fans vividly remember the last time baseball cracked down on calling balks. The year 1988 is widely known as “The Year of the Balk,” with a record of 924 balks called that season. Some fans fear a return to the insanity of that confusing year.

It’s 1988 all over again. The Orioles are gonna suck, Julio Franco is probably still playing somewhere, and balks aplenty until someone gets tired of it and makes the umps knock it off. twitter.com/JesseRogersESP…

balking is the worst rule in the history of sports twitter.com/JesseRogersESP…

the last time they tried this in 1988 it was a complete disaster twitter.com/jesserogersesp…

The basic problem for many is that no one seems to really know what a balk is. The rule has been a part of baseball since it was first implemented in 1898 to prevent pitchers from deceiving baserunners. But unlike other cut-and-dry rules, the balk rule has always has mystery surrounding it.

And I still won’t know what one looks like despite watching baseball my entire life and playing it for half. Nice. twitter.com/jesserogersesp…

Could we be headed towards breaking MLB balk records in 2023?

Dave Stewart, MVP of the 1989 Oakland A's, joins his teammates as they celebrate their World Series championship 25 years ago.
Dave Stewart, MVP of the 1989 Oakland A’s, joins his teammates as they celebrate their World Series championship 25 years ago.

Steve Carlton, who pitched for six teams over a 24 years, mostly for the Philadelphia Phillies, owns the career record in balks with 90. The major league single-season record is held by Dave Stewart, who had 16 balks in 1988 while pitching for the Oakland Athletics. Could Kevin Gausman of the Toronto Blue Jays, the poster boy for a balky delivery, threaten Stewart’s record this year?

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Edited by Joseph Schiefelbein

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