Originally written on Baseball Prospectus  |  Last updated 11/18/14

There are rules in baseball that are somewhat imprecise in nature. The check swing for example. Did he go? Could be! I don’t know! Another one along those lines is the balk. Sometimes the umpire sees a pitcher commit a balk but no amount of slow motion video can make it clear whether he did or didn’t do it. Half the time it seems balks are imperceptible to even those calling them. I mean if you look at a pitcher closely enough, you’re bound to see something.

It’s similar to staring at a statue waiting for it to move. If I watch closely enough, maybe I’ll convince myself I saw something. Even if I didn’t. Because it’s a statue.

Then there are the odd times when a balk is so obvious, so totally blatant, that people in line for the bathroom at the park can tell it happened. This is one such time.

Franklin Morales has been doing a bang up job as a fill-in in the Red Sox starting rotation. In this particular game, Morales did a fine job shutting down the Rays un-vaunted offense. After three innings the Red Sox led, 3-0. However, there was a point in the fourth inning when it looked like things might come undone. After getting the first two outs of the inning, Morales walked both B.J. Upton and Jeff Keppinger on full counts.

Then up stepped Sean Rodriguez. Morales missed wide with two curve balls and low with a fastball. Then he did this:

Not like you need one to identify it, but just for fun, here it is from a different angle.       

And finally, because this is America*, in slow motion:

* Or Canada. Or a different country. Either way.

A few observations:

1. The man in the first row to the right of the batter just above the word “fans” in the Rays phone number is doing quite the little dance. The balk stops him in his tracks. He has the following internal monologue:

Man: Yeah yeah, dancey dancey dancey

Man: Yeah yeah [clap clap clap]

Man: Oh....

2. There’s a slight hesitation from Morales immediately after he realizes he has totally screwed up. In that hesitation is a glimmer of hope. “Maybe if I still throw the ball I’ll still be able to …. No. Crap.”

3. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia sees it and does the lean-back, “Oooooh, maaaaaan.” Then, because this is a GIF, he does it again. And again. And again*. Aren’t GIFs wonderful?

*And again

4. The lady in the blue just above the “R” in the “Crown” sign manages to keep her head turned away from the play the whole time. She starts by looking at first base but just as Morales goes to throw the ball to first she turns her head to look all the way over at third base. What is she looking at? My guess: the dancing guy.

The balk elicited the following responses from the Rays television crews.

Rays Play-by-play Announcer: …start of a move and he just balked. Right there! He balked, realized in the middle of it he balked and then tried to toss it over there anyway. Perhaps that’s a double balk. [laughs]

Color Guy: [laughs] That’s a pitcher right there who is in his own head.

I’d have the Red Sox stuff for you too, but MLB.tv was down at the time and only had the Rays telecast available. So I’ll just make up what they said.

Don Orsillo (Red Sox play-by play): Morales goes to throw over there and… ? They’re saying he balked... He balked? I don’t see it.

Jerry Remy (Red Sox color guy): I don’t either, Don. It looks like the Red Sox are getting framed again. What is that umpire looking at? I have no idea.

In the end, the balk ended up not mattering. Morales walked Rodriguez a pitch later and then, with the bases loaded, struck out Luke Scott. Inning over, threat over.

As for the balk itself, if you watch the second GIF above, it looks to me like the culprit may have been first baseman Adrian Gonzalez who was either late getting over to cover first or for whatever reason (missed a sign?) wasn’t expecting the throw that Morales was prepared to give. So Morales was forced to cut his throwing motion off half way through. The part that makes this interesting enough that I’d stay up until one o’clock in the morning to write 800 words about it a week after it happened is that after obviously stopping and balking, Morales though, “Hey, maybe nobody noticed!” and threw the ball anyway.

We noticed, Franklin. If you’re sure of nothing else in your life be sure of this: we noticed.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Lawrence Taylor's son pleads guilty to statutory rape

49ers FB Bruce Miller charged with vandalism

Report: Winston snubbed ESPN out of draft interview

Report: Some Colts players unhappy with first-round pick

Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff: Focus is on Julio Jones contract

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Irvin on Seahawks not picking up option: ‘F— that option’

Brandon Prust rips referee, accuses him of on-ice trash talk

LeBron James ditched headband to look more like teammates

Report: Stephen Curry to be named NBA MVP

Milwaukee Brewers fire manager Ron Roenicke

Drafted player changes Twitter name to ‘Pick 245′

Ole Miss fan got pregnant because of upset over Alabama

Willie Cauley-Stein legally changes middle name to 'Trill'

Marcus Mariota welcomed to Tennessee with billboard

Five takeaways from the first round of the NBA playoffs

NFL has a Los Angeles Rams webpage

10 undrafted free agents who could become NFL stars

WATCH: ESPN reporter calls first First Take a 'train wreck'

Mike Trout criticized for tweet about Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Early 2016 NFL Draft prospect rankings

Life without Love: The new-look Cavaliers

Wizards deserve credit for win, but don't read too much into it

Here's why Mayweather-Pacquiao was business as usual

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Cauley-Stein changes middle name to 'Trill'

NFL has Los Angeles Rams webpage

10 undrafted free agents to watch

Report: Winston snubbed ESPN

Life without Love: The new-look Cavs

Drafted player changes Twitter name to ‘Pick 245′

Floyd Mayweather Punch Out mock video game is great

Report: Steph Curry to be NBA MVP

Kelly: Tebow here to compete for job

Tony Allen booed for being rude?

Lindsey Vonn, Tiger Woods break up

Pacquiao fought with injured shoulder?

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.