Balk Shouldn’t Have Been Called, Ump Says

Ryne Sandberg, Jim JoyceJake Diekman got called for an unusual balk in the eighth inning last night at Citizens Bank Park.

Diekman was working out of the stretch with runners on first and second when Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado wanted to call time and made a movement out of the batter’s box, although he never left the box and time had never been called. Diekman began his delivery to the plate, but upon seeing Arenado move out of the box he believed time had been called and stopped his delivery. Home plate umpire Jim Joyce called a balk.

Phillies interim manager Ryne Sandberg and Joyce had three conversations about the call during the game. Sandberg’s contention: a hitter cannot induce a balk. Rule 6.02(b) states: “If after the pitcher starts his windup or comes to a ‘set position’ with a runner on, he does not go through with his pitch because the batter has stepped out of the box, it shall not be called a balk.”

Joyce spoke about the call following the game with Randy Marsh, who is Major League Baseball’s director of umpires. Marsh is in town this week.

“I implemented the balk wrong,” Joyce said before Tuesday’s game. “The rule actually states if the batter leaves the batter’s box and causes the pitcher to hesitate or stop a balk shall not be called. I got probably a little more technical on that. He didn’t leave the box, but the spirit of the rule is if you make the pitcher stop by some sort of action by the batter a balk shall not be called. I probably was a little overzealous in throwing out that balk.”

Joyce said he spoke with Sandberg and Rockies manager Walt Weiss about it before tonight’s game.

“You could have the hitter step out and if the pitcher delivers a weaker pitch they could step back in and whack it, if they’re just trying to deliver a pitch,” Sandberg said. “So for me it’s a total disadvantage for the pitcher there in all regards to the play. The rule states that and I think that’s why the rule is what it is.”

9 Comments

My dad’s director of umpires now? I cant wait for that crazy episode to air.

Noooo….I thought this was America!?

Jim Joyce is just a class act all around. I think he’s one of few Umps who would actually admit they got it wrong.
He’s probably pretty glad it didn’t really impact the game…

I agree with you. Any time an umpire is willing to show vulnerability/ imperfection, it makes them more human. Even if the Phils had lost the game, admitting the missed call was the right thing to do.

Jim Wolf was one of the participants, in a Q&A, at Baseball 101, today. He said the same thing.
And I agree with Michael Offergeld. Jim Joyce IS a class act.

Isn’t this what we still kind of like about the game of baseball? It is still a very human game, and yes we all make mistakes.

That may start to change next year as instant replay starts creeping into the game and taking some of the innocence that the game has had since it’s inception away.

I agree. How soon until you get into bad computer programming or biased camera feed operators? That happened in Pittsburgh a few years ago with the Flyers…..Pitts feed guys failed to send ALL the angles to the war room thus impacting a call. The human side good and bad is part of the game IMO and needs to remain. Umpiring is not easy at any level and while there are good and bad umps, I dare anyone to try the job out. I looked into doing it professionally back when I was a young man and their schedules and life blow! The pay is nothing near what you think it is and you live out of a suitcase for months on end with no home games, friendly fans, etc to enjoy. Not a glamourous life and underappreciated by most. The mistakes are highlighted and run with due to 24/7 news feeds and in many cases are used as excuses. This balk call amounted to nothing, however even if it did, the pitchers put those runners on to begin with and still need to get the outs. Sandberg discussing it three seperate times was just silly….nothing was going to change.

Jim Joyce is a class act whenever he is clearly exposed as being wrong… this was a case where it was an inarguable error in applying the rules. This is something he should have known. He was also notoriously wrong with the Darvish “perfect game” two years ago, blowing the call at first when everything in the friggin universe indicated otherwise. I think it is great that he has so-called class, but would really prefer that he be competent, so that he doesnt end up screwing up the outcomes of games or historic moments in baseball, or perhaps a pennant race or World Series…

That wasn’t Darvish. I think you are referring to the Tigers pitcher maybe 4-5 years ago. Armando Guerrera or something like that……. sorry, my Spanish sucks and I’m too lazy to search for it. ;oP

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