I took an old Talking Heads song and turned it into a headline…clever.
I have mentioned before that the trouble with balks are twofold: 1) they happen quickly and 2) sometimes you just cannot believe what you are seeing. Either of these things can cause a delayed call.
Check out this play:
Rule 8.05(d) covers this.
8.05 If there is a runner, or runners, it is a balk when—
(d) The pitcher, while touching his plate, throws, or feints a throw to an unoccupied base, except for the purpose of making a play
Hamilton was not running so there was no play. There was no runner on second base. Easy balk call. The funny part is you can see the hesitation in the home plate umpire. He must be thinking “did I really just see that?”
Now, if Hamilton was running, this would have been legal. The base does not have to be occupied at the time of the attempt – just has to be a play there to be made.
On umpire message boards there is an abbreviation IIITBTSB that means It Is Impossible To Balk To Second Base. This is one of the only exceptions to that maxim.
This type of balk is covered on page 23 of RuleGraphics.