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For example, for fielders distracting the batter, I'm thinking of

  1. Physical distractions, like waving their arms, or everyone breaking out into the thriller dance, etc..
  2. Vocal distractions, like screaming "HEY BATTA SWING", or various explitives, etc..

Fielders can also distract runners by insulting their wives, or heckling in general.

I also wonder about the pitcher and catcher in particular. For example

  1. The pitcher pretending to have a spasm, before launching a "sucker punch" pitch
  2. the catcher clapping annoyingly, or heckling the batter in general

The only rule I'm aware of is balking, stopping the pitcher from feinting a pitch, but I'm pretty sure my suggested examples don't infringe on that.

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    Balks are much more then feinting a pitch; in particular, a quick pitch (where the pitcher does not come to a complete stop in the set position) is a balk.
    – Philip Kendall
    Apr 6 at 11:23

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Most of what would cover this is 6.04, Unsportsmanlike Conduct. From the rules, you can find rules related to not inciting fan displays, not distracting the batter while a fielder, or try to make the pitcher commit a balk. They also cannot use language that would "refer to or reflect on opposing players", so things like "your wife is so ..." would be banned there.

Pitchers balks (6.02) indeed cover most of the "what can a pitcher do to distract the batter", and the fact that the pitcher must follow the rules in 5.07a (legal pitcher delivery) prevents most of what you're describing. Pitchers are also prohibited from having confusing things on their glove that can be distracting, such as a too-light color glove, see rule 3.06.

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  • Perfect! As a final follow-up (if you can), if 1st baseman heckles runner on first base under his breath, how is that enforced? Unless there are recording devices, it's ultimately a he-said-she-said, right? Or is it just based on the honour system?
    – chausies
    Apr 6 at 17:28
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    If it's audible, then it would be covered under the language rule, otherwise if it's inaudible, then nobody would know or care. :). And yes, if nobody other than the one player heard it, odds are it would be hard to enforce - that's happened before. But there is an umpire not all that far away, so odds are they'd hear it if it was at any volume.
    – Joe
    Apr 6 at 17:46
  • Of course, the unwritten rule would be the heckling player gets a ball in the back next time they're up to bat.
    – pboss3010
    Apr 11 at 17:11

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