September Baseball and Buehrle’s Balks
- Updated: September 15, 2010
If you are in any city without a chance to win the division baseball in September brings mixed emotions. On the one hand it reminds one that the season is drawing to a close and will create that void a true baseball fan feels. On the other hand, it reminds any team fan outside the contenders that it was another season of futility.
Here in Milwaukee it is tough to watch September baseball and, no, not because the Packers’ begin play. It is an all too familiar scenario. In March the team says that it has the makeup to be a contender only to watch them slide into oblivion by June 1.
This year is no different. A repeat performance of last year’s woeful starting pitching doomed the team almost from the start.
So why do I even go to watch a team that has no chance of winning – a common occurrence in these parts? Maybe because I have season tickets that I do not want to waste, maybe it’s the allure of a ballpark that draws me like a magnet regardless of who is playing and how well.
No, watching baseball in September is not exciting, or necessarily fun. At the end of this season one will pay full price to watch the Marlins field a squad of rookies against a hometown team playing out the season. Not this fan. I’ll give my ticket away and build towards the anticipation of the 2011 season despite the fact that once again we will hear how the off season moves will make the team a contender only to witness the same old scene.
For those losing teams who want to sustain fan involvement in September, how about offering long suffering and loyal season ticket holders the opportunity to sit in what will become empty premium seats for half price? I believe that this will draw more fans even as another miserable season comes to a close.
A controversy broke out last week with the White Sox when pitcher Mark Buehrle was charged with a balk. Why is this rare call drawing so much attention? Because Buehrle’s balk was called by Umpire Joe West’s crew. Nothing unusual except that it was the fourth time this year that he was called for a balk, and all four times it was West’s crew who called it. No other crew has called it on him.
This is curiously suspicious but West has been known as a maverick umpire. He told the Royals recently that they could not have a day/night doubleheader to play a makeup game even though he had no authority to do so. Earlier this year he yelled at the Red Sox and Yankees to speed up the game. Hey Joe, if you want to speed up the game, make the hitters stay in the box between pitches as the rules require.
Pitchers, especially left handers, balk much more than its called, like holding in football. Andy Pettitte looks like he balks every time he throws to first. This is one of those plays that usually gets overlooked like when the player misses second base on the relay throw during a double play. So that’s why this West adventure is so bizarre. Only Joe West knows what’s behind this wacky action whether, for some odd reason he’s singling Buehrle out, but with no further investigation by the league office we’ll never know.