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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Remembering 1988, The Year Of The Balk

Dodger fans remember 1988 as the last moment of glory for the Chavez Ravine nine, but a recent entry at Jeff Sackmann's Brew Crew Ball introduced me to Theron Schultz's Recondite Baseball, for whom 1988 has another meaning entirely: the balk rule changed, making it much more specific and thus having the side effect of encouraging umpires to call it.
Baseball Official Rule 8.01(b): The pitcher, following his stretch, must (a) hold the ball in both hands in front of his body and (b) come to a complete stop.

1988 Baseball Official Rule 8.01(b): The pitcher, following his stretch, must (a) hold the ball in both hands in front of his body, and (b) come to a single complete and discernible stop, with both feet on the ground.

In 1988, AL pitchers gave up 558 balks, while NL pitchers gave up 366. The year before, it was 137 and 219 respectively. One of the reasons why the rules were changed was Whitey Herzog's complaint that Bert Blyleven had committed 19 uncalled balks in the 1987 World Series.

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Comments:
Dodger fans might remember it that way too, because the Dodgers completed a doubleheader sweep at Candlestick Park thanks to an extra-inning balk.
 

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