May 5, 2005


No squawk over intentional balk (Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 05, 2005)

Bob Wickman, in case there was a question, did not get a sign from the bench to intentionally balk Michael Cuddyer to third base in the ninth inning Tuesday night.

"That was all on his own," said manager Eric Wedge with a slight smile.

Wickman, fearful that Cuddyer was relaying pitch locations to Shannon Stewart, committed an intentional balk to move Cuddyer to third. He complicated matters by walking Stewart, but struck out Matt LeCroy to earn a save in the Tribe's 4-2 victory.

"I've never seen an intentional balk before," said Wedge. "That was another first. Whatever it takes."

Wickman intentionally balked because he was still having flashbacks of his blown save against the Angels on April 21. He hinted that Anaheim's Darin Erstad, on second, stole a sign and relayed it to Garret Anderson. Right or not, Anderson blooped a Wickman pitch into short left-center field to tie the score.

The Indians lost the game, 6-5, in 10 innings.

A moment of real genius.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 5, 2005 9:08 AM

Did they think about changing signs?

This brings up something my late father and I always wondered about. We hated to see a relief pitcher brought in, and then be put in the situation of intentionally walking the first batter he faced. We always believed (with no real evidence, I admit) that they were less likely to get ahead in the count to the next hitter. Also, an intentional walk always incurs the risk of a passed ball or wild pitch, which I have seen happen a few times.

If a pitcher puts his hand to his mouth while standing on the mound, a ball is automatically called. Why not do that four times and avoid throwing at all?

Posted by: Dan at May 5, 2005 9:52 AM

Similar to Belichek's (Patriots coach) intentionally taking a safety against the Chiefs in 2003 to better control field position and enable the Pats to eventually score the winning TD. Took people a few moments to realize that a move that initial seems self-destructive can actually be beneficial in the long run (kinda like politics)

Posted by: AWW at May 5, 2005 9:57 AM

I don't know if you were being serious or not OJ, but the game Wickman balked on they won so it was genius. If you see his first two pitches you could tell that the batter knew what was coming. From a long time suffering Cleveland fan, we need all the help we can get.

Posted by: BJW at May 5, 2005 10:01 AM

If Wickman could throw strikes more consitently it would not be so painful to watch him work. Of course, if Wickman could throw strikes more consitently, the Tribe couldn't afford him.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at May 5, 2005 10:30 AM

Where is Doug Jones now that we need him? and who stole Victor Martinez's bat?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at May 5, 2005 10:32 AM

Quite serious.

Posted by: oj at May 5, 2005 10:57 AM

What is quite serious, OJ?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at May 5, 2005 11:05 AM

I was asking him if he actually thought the intentional balk was a good idea. One other thing Robert, Cleveland mgmt thinks Bard will just be as good as Martinez. I will start to panic in June if the bats don't turn around.

Posted by: BJW at May 5, 2005 11:49 AM

As to giving up a little to win a lot, does anyone remember the 1983 Monday night game the Redskins lost in Green Bay (47-45, or something like that). They should have let the Packers just get a TD near the end (instead of a field goal) just to take more time off the clock. Whoever held the ball at the end of that game was going to win, because both defenses were a mirage that night. Both Redskins losses that year were on Monday night, and both were in high-scoring games (31-30 to Dallas, and the GB loss).

An intentional balk? Amazing. Did they try to pick him off first?

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 5, 2005 11:50 AM

Many years ago, I remember Sudden Sam McDowell intentionally walking Boog Powell when he led off an inning. Boog's slugging percentage against McDowell was greater than 1.0, so the Indians figured they were better off conceding first base.

When Boog came up with men on base, McDowell would move to second, and a relief pitcher would throw to Boog. Then McDowell would go back to the mound. The league changed the rules to stop that.

Finally, the Indians solved the problem by signing Boog for a couple of years, then shipping him off to finish his career in the NL.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at May 5, 2005 11:56 AM

Bob: I don't think there was such a rule change. In 1985 Whitey Herzog did something similar in a few games--he brought in Ken Dayley to face a lefty, put him in left field and brought in Todd Worrell to face a righty, and then brought Dayley back to the mound to face a lefty.

Posted by: b at May 5, 2005 12:30 PM

Ther Mets played a great game against Cincy in '86 where Ray Knight got in a fight with Eric Davis and a bunch of guys were ejected. They ended up with Gary Carter at 3b, Rusty Staub in the outfield and Orosco and McDowell both in the game. Staub, Orosco, & McDowell rotated depending on whether a lefty or righty was batting. They won the game.

Posted by: oj at May 5, 2005 12:49 PM


I don't think they rate Bard as highly as they did a few years ago. But they need to give Martinez a reduced workload for awhile. He's been mediocre since the middle of last year.

Posted by: oj at May 5, 2005 12:56 PM

the first time I ever saw a football team take an intentional safety was Shula's Dolphins in about '75 in a Monday Night game.

they led the Steelers by 6 with 1-2(3?) minutes remaining and where on their 4-5 yard line, I guess.. apparently, Jake Scott (the Dolphins safety) suggested it and Shula liked it .. they won the game.

what was funny about it was Howard Cosell was caught completely flat footed .. sputtering '.. I don't get this at all!' when Bob Griese came up to the line on 4th-and-whatever and calmly jogged out of the back of the end zone. it was great.

Posted by: JonofAtlanta at May 5, 2005 1:52 PM


That was 1973, and it was a very interesting game. Joe Gilliam started at QB for Pittsburgh and threw 4 interceptions in the 1st half (with at least one going back for a TD). Miami led 30-3. Terry Bradshaw came out in the 2nd half and the Steelers scored 3 TDs and had Miami pinned back in their end. Some of us knew what Shula was doing, but from the 8-yard line, it was an easy walk for Griese. I think there were about 50 seconds left when he gave up the 2 points. Joe Greene was quoted later as yelling at the Miami offensive line: "You don't want to do this" (when they lined up on 4th and 2).

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 5, 2005 3:09 PM