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Walk Off Balk!

The Reds were batting in the bottom of the tenth with the score tied 1-1 on July 8, 2022. Tyler Naquin was facing Matt Wisler with runners on first and third and one out when Edwin Moscoso called a balk on Wisler. Mark Kolozsvary, the runner on third, scored the winning run on the play.

Rays’ manager Kevin Cash questioned the call.

Ruleball Comment

  1. I support Moscoso’s balk call because Wisler carried his glove from the side of his hip to the front. By doing so, he interrupted his motion to his Set Position.
  2. This questionable act occurred Preparatory to Coming Set. The rule stipulates that the pitcher shall Go To His Set Position WITHOUT INTERRUPTION AND IN ONE CONTINUOUS MOTION. See rule 5.07 (a) (2).
  3. Wisler carried his glove around which gave the appearance of preparing to go into his Set.
  4. Did Wisler intend to deceive the runners? Intent in most cases does not factor into the balk rule. But rule 6.02 (a) (comment), reads, “If there is doubt in the umpire’s mind, the “intent” of the pitcher should govern.” But the way the balk rule is umpired, in most cases that section of the rule book holds little water.
  5. Umpires are trained to call the slightest flinch a balk. I’m not sure if that’s good for the game-but to maintain consistency, and some pitchers attempting to circumvent the rule, you can make the argument that it’s a necessary evil.
  6. The way the balk rule is umpired, for the most part, the hands of the umpires are tied in exercising common sense.

Editors Note: While this balk call is supported by a majority of rules experts, there are several MLB umpires and former MLB umpires that disagree with the call. Balk calls are subjective and open to umpire interpretation. All agree, however, that had Wisler legally stepped off the rubber, this controversy would have been avoided.


Rich Marazzi

Rules consultant/analyst:  D’backs, Nationals, Orioles, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Rays, Red Sox, Rangers, Royals, Tigers, Twins, Yankees, Bally Sports, ESPN, YES, and NBC Sports Chicago.  

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