We often hear casual fans refer to officials “swallowing the whistle” late in games, but that concept should not be in any umpire’s vocabulary. If a call would be made in the first inning it should be made in the ninth. To drive home this point, we revisit a key August walk-off balk in a game between the Dodgers and Mariners, two contending teams. 1B umpire Andy Fletcher picks up the balk from his position behind the first base bag and awards the runner home. The second clip shows Fletcher’s authoritative balk call. Selling a call like this is a must, and Fletcher’s mechanics are perfect.
Have you ever had coaches say you should have “swallowed the whistle” late in a game? And how have you responded? Is this concept different in a lower level game? For example, should you end a 50/70 Little League game on a slight flinch that you judge commits the pitcher to pitch? Some umpires are of differing philosophy on calling balks at that level. Do you take an all-or-nothing approach or try to call just the serious offenses? Let us know what you think in the comments on this post and on our Facebook and Twitter pages!