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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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Eliminate Balks and Leadoffs?
2004-05-31 20:55
by Jon Weisman

His pitching is just this side of brilliant, but next to more run support, what Odalis Perez needs is a little balk therapy.

Perez was in a scoreless duel Memorial Day in the sixth inning when a balk call caused him to lose his temper, then his shutout. On his first pitch of the ensuing inning, Perez allowed a home run.

The funny or unfunny thing is that less than a year ago, on June 24 last season, Perez was also in a scoreless duel heading into the sixth inning. In the bottom of the sixth, Perez was also called for a balk with a runner on first. A homer also followed, and the Dodgers lost, 2-1.

The following morning, on Dodger Thoughts, I wrote:

For the first time in my life, I predicted a balk. Mind you, I can explain the infield fly rule in French, but I still can't for the life of me understand what is a balk and what isn't. My sense is that balks are like cartoons in The New Yorker as depicted on Seinfeld - people, including umpires and cartoon editors, just sort of guess at them. (Just to be clear, I think the cartoons in The New Yorker are very clever and comprehensible.)

Anyway, though I certainly don't think the balk call is made consistently, there was something about the extra attention that Odalis Perez was paying to Ray Durham on first base in the sixth inning, a sort of desperation to keep Durham in place, that I felt that something bad was going to happen. And it did.

In rereading that entry, I noticed a suggestion I made that I forgot about almost immediately. It elicited no reaction, but perhaps, with more readers now than I had then, it's worth revisiting.

I didn't spend any more of the inning questioning the call. Rather, I pondered whether baseball would be a better game with a no-leadoffs rule. A runner could only go once the pitch has been thrown. That would eliminate the balk rule and pickoff throws to first - neither of which represents the game at its best.

A no-leadoff rule would cut down on stolen bases and taking an extra base, increase double plays, and therefore cut down on offense. If that's a problem for you - and it certainly would be for the Dodgers - you could make one other change, reducing the distance between the bases to 85 feet. I know, I'm rearranging Stonehenge here, but I thought it an interesting notion. Please feel free to point out other pitfalls.

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