Major League Baseball has decided to outlaw the fake to third, throw to first pickoff move used by pitchers to trick runners on first base. The move will now be considered a balk and the rule change will be effective at the start of the 2013 season.
The move would start with a pitcher faking a throw to third base, then turning around and throwing the ball to first base, hoping to fool the runner on first into trying to steal second base. Though there were times that the pickoff move worked, most of the time it was a failure and former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, now an executive vice president in the commissioner's office, was aware of the league-wide support against the rule.
"A large majority of the managers, I mean a really good amount, wanted to eliminate it," Torre said. "So we presented it."
This rule change will not change much about the game, but it does have some impact. On August 9th, 2011, the Yankees had runners on first and third with Mark Teixeira at the plate in a 6-4 game against the Los Angeles Angels. In an effort to get into scoring position, Curtis Granderson was thrown out while trying to steal second base after Angels closer Jordan Walden used the third-to-first pickoff move to catch Granderson and end the game.
Former Yankees reliever Jeff Nelson was also familiar with the move, using it more often than most pitchers. Though he admits it was not always successful, he believes it gave the pitcher some control over the runners.
"The managers say it's all about speeding up the game," said Nelson. "I think now, the runner at first base might get a little bit of an advantage. All it's used for is to keep the runner at first close. I might have done it 100 times and gotten two guys on it."
Despite the rule change, pitchers will still be allowed to make pickoff throws and step off the rubber. The only move affected by the new rule is the fake to third followed by a throw to first.
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