One such player is the Chicago Whitesox AJ Pierzynski.
Last Tuesday, with the White Sox struggling mightily against Ricky Romero, Pierzynski took matters into his own hands in an effort to get on base. After a low pitch skipped in the dirt, Pierzynski started to dance around as if a sniper in the stands had scored a direct hit on his foot. Replays showed the ball was nowhere near Pierzynski. Not even close. Sadly the umpire was fooled and Pierzynski got first base.
Baseball could take a leaf out of soccer’s book here. In soccer, the best example would be where a player dives for a penalty, or, simulates, as FIFA likes to refer to it as. If a referee decides a player is deliberately trying to win a penalty he books the offending player. He gives him a yellow card (two of those, and you are ejected).
The baseball equivalent would be simple. Call the pitch a strike. No matter where it went, no matter how far out of the box it is. If the batter either moves into the ball (not attempting to get out of the way as the rule demands) or if the batter pretends to get hit, call it a strike. This would diffuse the entire situation, and should also prevent players pretending to get hit with a pitched ball.
The umpire should have the power to decided if he believes the player is ‘simulating’. Experienced umpires should get this right 9 times out of 10, and that would be a better situation than currently.
The Internet is awash with calls to ban Pierzynski, or bring in further instant replay or call in the Marines. Often the simplest answer is the best road forward and in this case, just call the pitch a strike. That could put the entire matter to bed in an instant.