Paul Cohen from Los Angeles, CA asks:
With a runner at third and a right handed pitcher the third baseman is very far back from 3rd base. The pitcher throws (without stepping off the rubber) to the third baseman who makes no attempt to make a putout at 3rd base. We know that the pitcher cannot throw to an unoccupied base but we also know that the pitcher must throw to the bag and not the fielder.
At first base this is a given but what about at 3rd base.The fielder made no attempt to retire the runner.
In another scenario, what if the pitcher threw the ball to the left fielder and not a infielder? I believe that this is a balk but some umpires tell me that it is not.
The pitcher is actually making two infrictions here although only one balk would be called due to the fact that the ball would be dead after the first one. He broke the first rule by throwing to the third baseman, not the base. The rule book says that, while a pitcher is touching the pitching rubber he must first step directly towards the base and then throw to the base. Also, since it appears that neither the pitcher nor the third baseman had any intentions of retiring the runner a balk should be called because the pitcher is unneccessarily delaying the game. A warning should also be delivered to the pitcher delaying the game and, if it happens again, the pitcher shall be removed from the game.
The second scenerio is also a balk. This is because the pitcher is once again unneccessarily delaying the game by throwing to a fielder with no intention of retiring a runner and the same actions should be taken as mentioned earlier.
Answered by: Jonathan Bravo