I’m sitting here watching the Giants beat the Dodgers. Nomo pitched a great game, but as of the top of the ninth, the Giants young Ainsworth is shutting them out.
But anyway, watching these two teams in particular reminds me of a question I’ve always wondered about; Why aren’t Robb Nen’s or Hideo Nomo’s pitching windups considered balks? Now as I understand it, a balk is an interuption of the pitching motion before the ball is released. There are other sorts of balks, like illegal pickoffs and such, but I’m concentrating just on the windup here.
As I understand it, the pitcher has to come to a set, complete stop, then begin a smooth uninterrupted windup ending with the ball flying towards the plate. Nomo completely stops during his windup and Nen has a little stutter-step. This seems to clearly go against the balk rule, but it’s never ever called on them (at least not for that reason).
Is my understanding of the balk just flat out wrong or is it a case of “Nomo and Nen get a free pass just because they’re quirky”?
I’ve gone over Rule 8 with a fine-tooth comb and I can’t find anything that would cause Nen’s or Nomo’s windups to be illegal. As long as they have come to the set position before the windup, the pitch is legal, according to my interpretation.
That said, I think Nen’s little leg move is deceptive and probably gives him an unfair advantage, but it’s not a balk, IMO.
Nomo had an even wackier wind-up when he was in Japan. If I remember correctly, that part where her turns away from the plate laster for much longer. When he came over to the states, the umpires and league checked it out and told him it would be called as a balk unless he toned it down.