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Wake-up call: Balks or no balks, Tom Brady, NFL bounties

October 23, 2008 | 10:11 am

Joe First things first:  Well, balk or no balk? Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels came very close to a balk last night in Game 1 of the World Series in a pickoff attempt of the Rays' Carlos Pena at first. Pena was attempting a steal, but the impossibly quick throw from Hamels led to Pena being caught at second in a bang-bang play. Rays Manager Joe Maddon, however, yelled balk from the dugout as soon as Hamels threw the ball. A discussion followed between Maddon and umpire Tim Welke and ended the debate. Read the official rule 8.01 (c).

Add Series: A baseball delight. That describes the postgame wrapup on ESPN's SportsCenter. Take Chris Berman out of the picture and the three baseball experts proved their worth in a lively discussion of the Phillies baserunning in Game 1. John Kruk thought the Phillies shouldn't have pushed it as much as they did, since it wasn't always successful. But analysts Steve Phillips and Eric Young thought it was worth the gamble, even though it can end in outs. Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports takes a closer look. As he writes:

It was Lopes who studied the tapes, who conferred with the five Phillies’ scouts who’d eyeballed the Rays for the past week, and saw opportunity. From the stretch, when he’s going to the plate and not to first base, Kazmir takes one look at the runner and then lowers his chin to his chest. That’s when the Phillies went.

Kneed in New England: Knee injuries can be minor, as Kobe Bryant's apparently is (Lakers fans and even TV sportscasters seemed to have had a collective "whew" over this).  Knee injuries can be much worse too, as Tom Brady is finding out. Doctors are aggressively fighting an infection in Brady's surgically repaired left knee, meaning a third surgery -- news that the Boston Herald broke. And the New England Patriots are angry. No surprise there. They thought they could get Brady back in as fast as four weeks. Not now. Maybe not this season. The surgery took place at the highly regarded Kerlan-Jobe clinic here in L.A. but infections do happen. The silver lining? Ex-Trojan Matt Cassel did well enough last Sunday. 

Pay it to play it? On Wednesday, the Ravens' media relations guy, Kevin Byrne, took issue with Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, who said the team had a "closed" bounty out on Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall and an "open" one on receiver Hines Ward. Today, former Ravens Coach Brian Billick came on the Dan Patrick radio show and said that bounties are a reality. In case there is any doubt, bounties are against NFL rules.

-- Debbie Goffa

Photo: Tampa Bay Rays Manager Joe Maddon yells to home plate umpire Tim Welke, arguing that Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels committed a balk. Chris O'Meara / Associated Press