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4 Apr 1998:  Pitcher Jeff Nelson of the New York Yankees in action during a game against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Yankees 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule  /Allsport


Major League Baseball Wants to Ban ‘The Old Jeff Nelson’

For those unfamiliar with YES Network broadcasts, "The Old Jeff Nelson" is a term Yankees announcer Michael Kay uses whenever a pitcher fakes a pickoff throw to third and then turns to first. (Nelson attempted the move many times during his career. Last year, we conducted what we believe to be the most extensive research available anywhere on the subject of "The Old Jeff Nelson" and its success rate when actually attempted by Jeff Nelson.) Anyway, the move might soon be a thing of the past: It seems Major League Baseball wants to get rid of it.

According to the AP, the Playing Rules Committee has approved a proposal to make the move a balk, and MLB executives and umpires are in agreement. (More specifically, faking a throw to third would be called a balk unless the pitcher steps off the rubber first.) The players' union, however, vetoed the plan for this season to discuss it further. According to the AP report, "MLB is allowed to implement the change after a one-year wait — no telling whether that would happen if players strongly object."

That said, the AP found at least one player who's in favor of getting rid of the move.

"I think they should get rid of it," Yankees reliever Boone Logan said. "Us lefties can't do that. If we do, they call a balk."

"Besides, how often does it work? Maybe once in never," he said.

Once in never might be going a bit too far. Sure, it's rarely successful — but it worked for Angels pitcher Jordan Walden against Logan's Yankees last year, when Curtis Granderson fell for it and was tagged out to end a game on August 9. Then, this year, it worked again for an Angels pitcher against the Yankees, when Ervin Santana caught Brett Gardner with it on April 13.

Photo: Otto Greule Jr