In an article by Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post, Josh Johnson was charged with two balks during yesterday’s game in Orlando versus the Braves. Apparently, the new rule is:
“When he’s not standing on the mound, a pitcher who goes to his mouth must wipe off his hand before rubbing down the ball.”
The previous rule allowed the pitcher to avoid wiping his hand off after going to is mouth. That’s all fine and dandy, but here’s the kicker. According to the article, when interviewed on the subject, bench coach Carlos Tosca (who managed Tuesday’s game) said, “I had to ask (umpire) Joe (West) what was going on. He told me they got some kind of memo last night, last. I said, ‘Well we didn’t get a memo.’”
Come on! This sounds ridiculous. First off, let me say that it’s really no big deal…especially in a Spring Training game. But this article implies that Major League Baseball sent some new rule down the mountain during the beginnings of a season, AND alerted only the umpires to this rule, AND made it effective the following day, AND ‘forgot’ to let anyone who runs the teams know about the change.
Spring training is a period when players begin to find their groove and prepare for the long grind of regular season play. A rule like this, while insignificant as it is, pushed through at the practical halfway point of pre-season, completely disrupts a pitcher’s flow. The time for disseminating stupid rules like this needs to be during the off season when no one gives a crap. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for creating or modifying a rule even in the middle of the season if it will alleviate some egregious danger to the players, staff, or the fans. But I am curious to learn why something so insignificant can make such a big impact in the officiating of a game?
And why was this rule effective for immediate next day of game play? It took MLB over a season and a half to figure out if they wanted home run replay. THIS gets immediate enforcement?! What happened to the warning/grace period of enforcement I’m so used to seeing in the Majors (like steroid usage. too soon?)?
All in all, I’d say it has been a pretty slow news day for our beloved team, save for all these groin injuries and torn rotators.