Pittsburgh Pirates: Reviewing Controversial Balk Call Against the Cardinals

ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 11: Manager, Derek Shelton of the Pittsburgh Pirates makes a pitching change during the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on June 11, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 11: Manager, Derek Shelton of the Pittsburgh Pirates makes a pitching change during the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on June 11, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /
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A highly controversial call was made in the 4th inning of the first game on Tuesday’s day/night doubleheader between the Pittsburgh Pirates and St, Louis Cardinals. Did rival catcher Yadier Molina cheat the Pirates?

The Pittsburgh Pirates faced off against the St. Louis Cardinals in a double header. However, a highly controversial call was made in the 4th inning. With two on and two outs, Pirate starting pitcher JT Brubaker tossed to second base and picked off Yadier Molina. Molina appealed to the umpires to check for a balk and after discussion among the umpires, the call was overturned.

Although there were two throwing errors during that inning caused some trouble for the Pirates, the bigger issue is many in baseball circles are now questioning if Molina just cheated the Pittsburgh Pirates?

A look at MLB’s rules can help us out here. According to the rules, a balk is considered a judgement call by the umpires.  As per Rule 8.02 of MLB’s 2021 Rule Book, judgement calls are not appealable calls. On page 95, the official wording is “No player, manager, coach or substitute shall object to any such judgment decisions.” Already, that should be enough for Molina, or any other person on the field for that matter to object to the call. MLB’s rulebook isn’t the only source who agrees on this. As per The Umpire Bible, “A balk is technically a “play” and therefore nullifies the opportunity to appeal.”

But wait, there’s more. Even in the event that the play can be appealed, the Pirates were already off the field by the time the umpires decided to appeal the call. This is also an offically stated by MLB themselves. MLB’s offical glossary states that the appeal must be made ” before the entire defensive team has left fair territory if the play in question resulted in the end of a half-inning.” The Pirates were already off the field by the time the umpires decided to accept the appeal at second base.

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I am not an expert at MLB’s rules, and I can’t recite them word-for-word, but this game should have been played under protest. Although Brubaker did balk when he threw to second base, the call was already made. This was not a case of a reviewable or appelable call. Balks cannot be appealed or reviewed and the fact this rule was clearly bent in heavy favor of the Cardinals makes it all the worse.

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