Dodgers’ Belisario Balks, Defies All Baseball Logic | The Golden Sombrero Baseball Blog | MLB, Fantasy, College & High School Baseball News

Dodgers’ Belisario Balks, Defies All Baseball Logic

On Thursday night, the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers surrendered a 5-run lead against the Philadelphia Phillies, giving up 3 runs in both the 8th and 9th innings and ultimately losing 10-9.  Although many of the Dodgers’ players lent a helping hand in making the late-inning collapse exceedingly memorable, the brunt of my focus is on Ronald Belisario’s mental error- a blunder so rare that it baffled every umpire on the field, as well as the manager of both teams.

With nobody out in the bottom of 8th inning, Belisario opted to do a 3rd-to-1st pickoff move, hoping to catch an anxious Jayson Werth with too large a lead.  There was just one slight problem, there was no a runner on 3rd base.  The only guy on base was Werth…and he was on 1st.  That’s right, this means that Belisario made a move to an unoccupied base(3rd) in an attempt to deceive Werth.  BALK.  However, this was no ordinary balk, it was arguably one of the most bone-headed and unthinkable balk in baseball history; it should have counted for a run, not just a single base.  If we refer to a players’ mental errors as “brain farts,” then Belisario’s gaffe should be recognized as “brain explosive-diarrhea.” Here’s why:

In a game that had been all Dodgers through 7 innings, Belisario entered in the bottom of the 8th to protect starter Clayton Kershaw’s lead and try to stabilize a tumultuous Dodgers’ bullpen.  After giving up singles to Placido Polanco and Mike Sweeney to start the inning, Belisario uncorked a wild pitch that allowed the runners to advance to 2nd and 3rd, 0 out, and Jayson Werth at the dish.

After a 2-run single by Werth that cut the Dodgers’ lead to 3(9-6), and still 0 outs recorded in the inning, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt thought it might be a good time to go talk to the right-hander, and buy the bullpen some time.  Was there really anything that Rick could have been said out there that might have prevented the ensuing Ruben- Sierra-like behavior?  With Ben Francisco at-bat, Belisario balked in a manner that left the veteran umpire crew, both managers, and many of the players confused over what they had just witnessed.  Everybody just looked around for a minute, unsure of themselves and searching for anybody who seemed to be acting with conviction.  Even Charlie Manuel, a guy who you would have expected to have seen it all, appeared confused about the play.

Once the at-bat resumed, Belisario promptly gave up a ringing, RBI double to Francisco before being pulled.  His line for the day: 0 IP, 4, 4 ER, WP, and a Balk.

But how can something like this even be possible?   How could Belisario so blatantly disregard a rule that is essentially known a priori by every pitcher?  Does he spend too much time around Manny Ramirez over there? Is he trying to get pregnant, as well?

Having played extremely competitive baseball for my entire life, I can honestly say that I have never seen a pitcher balk like Belisario did on Thursday night.  I mean come on, he is a Major League pitcher!  He gets paid, healthily nonetheless, to do this for a living!  Even the most awkward, un-athletic, unknowledgeable guys that I have ever played with know that a pitcher can’t do what Belisario did.  In fact, he shouldn’t have even been in that position in the first place.

Belisario was pitching against a depleted Phillies’ squad that had its perennial All-Stars, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley on the DL, as well as Shane Victorino and Dominic Brown absent from the starting lineup.  Regardless of whom he faced in the Phillies’ order, and despite whether the Dodgers’ lead by 1 or 20 runs, Belisario’s mindset should have been consistent with what the situation called for: Stay aggressive, pound it low in the zone, let them try to overcompensate, and get groundball outs.  Especially after allowing the hit to Werth and being left in to face Francisco- the 6th hitter- with still 0 outs, going right after the hitters would have been the only way for Belisario to make it out alive.

With Ruiz, Wilson Valdez and a pinch-hitter(pitcher’s spot) due up after Francisco, why was there any need to worry about Werth at either 1st or 2nd base?  There wasn’t.  That is why everything about how Belisario handled himself in the outing suggested that he was pitching with the “play not to lose” mindset, as opposed to the aggressive, “bury them.”  Belisario probably entered the game thinking, “Wow, we’ve got a huge lead, Kershaw pitched well, I better not blow it for everybody.”  It’s that line of thinking that opens the door for the humiliating errors, both mental and physical, that have the capacity to rapidly infest a team’s morale.

To further the discussion on Belisario, I thought that I would rattle off a few possible explanations in defense of the poor guy.  Considering that I did already compared him to “The Village Idiot,” Ruben Sierra, it’s the least that I could do.

–       I’m concerned that Belisario has been taking the whole “ghost runner” thing a little too seriously for, well, his entire life.  This can me only one thing, Ronald Belisario sees dead people.

–       Thursday night’s outing was just the second for Belisario since being removed from the restricted list, which had been his home since July 7th.  According to the Dodgers, he was placed on the list so that he could undergo substance abuse treatment.  I’m not going to go out on a limb and claim that he was drunk during this appearance, no.  Instead I’m going to assert that he was not drunk and therefore couldn’t think straight.

–       Maybe he was trying to pick off the Phillies’ 3rd Base Coach Sam Perlozzo.  I would that though that Perlozzo’s older appearance and goofy-ass coach’s helmet might have given it away, but I’m just not willing to put it by him quite yet.

–       Last but not least, maybe Belisario simply didn’t know that such a move was prohibited?  He seemed to go about it with some conviction, so who’s to say that he knows all of baseball’s rules.  One thing is for certain: I bet that he was always pretty confused as to why other pitchers never attempted that move.

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