Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rule 2.00 Infield Fly and 6.05(e): Getting to Know the Rule

Baseball's infield fly rule is perhaps one of the most conditional and technical parts of the sport's Rules Book, yet once the concept is grasped, the rule is fairly straightforward, key phrase, "once the concept is grasped."

Rule 2.00 (Infield Fly) describes the call:
An INFIELD FLY is a fair fly ball (not including a line drive nor an attempted bunt) which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort, when first and second, or first, second and third bases are occupied, before two are out. The pitcher, catcher and any outfielder who stations himself in the infield on the play shall be considered infielders for the purpose of this rule.
The ball is alive and runners may advance at the risk of the ball being caught, or retouch and advance after the ball is touched, the same as on any fly ball. If the hit becomes a foul ball, it is treated the same as any foul. 
The Infield Fly rule furthermore supercedes Rule 6.05(l), the Intentional Drop rule.

What is an Infield Fly? Three Key Considerations
(1) First and second must be occupied with less than two out (third may or may not be occupied).
(2) The batter must hit a fair fly ball, which is not a line drive nor bunt, that;
(3) In the umpire's judgment, can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort.

Though designed to prevent unfair double plays by declaring the batter out under Rule 6.05(e), confusion over the rule has itself resulted in several double plays being turned over the years. In the following examples, apply the three criteria above to determine whether each play is an instance of the Infield Fly rule. The three critera are listed as (1), (2) & (3).

Test Yourself: Examples: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

Read on for the answer key.

This is an Infield Fly
Example 1 (Video): During the 5/13/12 Padres-Phillies game, with (1) one out and runners on first and second in the bottom of the 7th inning, batter B1 hit a (2) fair fly ball to (3) F3 (first baseman) and was declared out on the Infield Fly rule. F3 failed to catch the fly ball and both runners attempted to advance, possibly incorrectly assuming that the batter was not out and they may have been forced to advance on the force. R1 was almost thrown out advancing to second, but F6 (shortstop), covering second base, neglected to tag R1, tagging the base instead, himself having forgotten the infield fly rule, leading to an error being charged to F3 for the dropped ball.

Example 2 (Video): During the 8/28/11 National Youth Baseball Championship, with (1) one out and the bases loaded in the top of the 3rd inning, B1 hit a (2) fair fly ball to (3) F6 (shortstop) and was declared out on the Infield Fly rule. F6 failed to catch the fly ball and all three runners attempted to advance as F6 recovered the loose ball and threw to F2 (catcher). F2 alertly applied the tag on runner R3, resulting in an inning-ending double play.

Example 3 (Video): During the 7/31/10 Pirates-Cardinals game, with (1) one out and runners on first and second in the top of the 1st inning, B1 hit a (2) fair fly ball to (3) F2 (catcher) and was declared out on the Infield Fly rule. F2 failed to catch the ball, though the Infield Fly rule supercedes the Intentional Drop rule and the ball therefore was kept live. F2 recovered the loose ball and threw to F4 (second baseman), who tagged the second base bag as R1 rounded the base. As both F4 and R1 realized the force was off, R1 hurriedly attempted to tag second base as F6 attempted to tag R1.

Example 4 (Video): During the 4/8/10 Cardinals-Reds game, with (1) one out and runners on first and second in the top of the 1st inning, B1 hit a (2) fair fly ball to (3) F4 and was declared out on the Infield Fly rule as the umpires ruled the fly ball could have been caught by F4 with ordinary effort. F4 recovered the loose ball and threw to F6, covering second base. After tagging second base, F6 noticed R1 leaving the basepath enroute back to his dugout, incorrectly believing he had been retired. F6 then tagged R1 for an inning-ending double play.

Example 5 (Video): During the 4/17/11 Brewers-Nationals game, with (1) one out and the bases loaded in the top of the 9th inning, B1 hit a (2) fair fly ball to (3) F4 and was declared out on the Infield Fly rule as the umpires ruled the fly ball could have been caught by F4 with ordinary effort. On the drop, R3 successfully advanced to home plate at his own peril, scoring a run.

This is not an Infield Fly
Example 6 (Video) [Ejection]: During the 6/23/10 Reds-A's game, with (1) zero out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 4th inning, B1 hit a (2) fair ball to (3) F4 and was not declared out as the ball dropped in front of F4 without F4 having touched the ball (no intentional drop under Rule 6.05(l)). F4 recovered the ball and threw to F2 for a force out and onto F5 (third baseman) for a double play. A's Manager Bob Geren was ejected by Umpire Jerry Crawford for arguing the non-application of the Infield Fly and Intentional Drop rules. IF Criteria 2 had not been met: the ball was "a sinking line drive" (as described by the Oakland telecast) and not a fly ball, which by rule, requires a trajectory "that goes high in the air in flight" (Rule 2.00 [Fly Ball]).

Example 7 (Video): During the 5/8/12 Giants-Dodgers game, with (1) zero out and a runner on first in the top of the 4th inning, B1 hit a (2) fair fly ball to (3) F3 and was not declared out on the Infield Fly rule as only one runner was on base. B1 was also not declared out on the Intentional Drop rule as F3 allowed the fly to drop untouched; F3 therefore did not intentionally drop the fly as he had not touched it, setting up a double play.

Example 8 (Video): During the 5/14/12 Rockies-Giants game, with (1) zero out and runners on first and second in the bottom of the 4th inning, B1 hit a (2) fair fly ball to (3) shallow right field, F4 running out to make an over-the-shoulder catch. B1 was not declared out on the Infield Fly rule as, in the umpire's judgment, F4 employed extraordinary effort (as opposed to ordinary effort) to catch the ball.

Example 9 (Video): During the 4/25/12 Nationals-Padres game, with (1) one out and runners on first and second in the top of the 4th inning, B1 (2) bunted a fair ball to (3) F3 who allowed the ball to drop untouched, so as to avoid intentionally dropping the fly and invoking the Intentional Drop rule. B1 was therefore not declared out on the Infield Fly rule, as the pop-up was a bunt attempt, resulting in an inning-ending double play.

9 comments :

RichMSN said...

Play 2: Perfect example of why 3BLX is a better position on the play.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to disappoint but #6 IS an infield fly rule. I know that many will disagree but I showed this video to Jim Evans , who is a friend of mine last year and he agrees that this is an infield fly. He key is the arc of the batted ball. The ball has just enough arc to not be a line drive. The fielder could of easily caught the ball, but he let it drop. The problem is it is not a line drive. I have also spoke to many MiLB umpires about this one and they agree on the IFF. Jerry just missed it. He is standing right in front of it and he is the CC. Nobody on the crew is gonna call
the IFF with Jerry standing right on top of it. Evans did tell me that in real time, this is not an easy call but on replay it is a no brainer......

Anonymous said...

The description of play 8 is incorrect, but the answer is correct. The the start of the video clearly shows that only first base is occupied [tv graphic], and the video cuts away and you can see that second base is unoccupied. No infield fly rule can be declared because first and second are not occupied (criteria 1 is not met).

I might argue that with ordinary effort this ball could have been caught by the first baseman, but it's irrelevant.

Also, looking again, I noticed more confusion. The video link is to the 5/23/10 Giants-A's game, and the inning is top of the 5th with 1 out. Maybe the video link is wrong?

Anonymous said...

The infield fly rule does not specify that the ball is "not a line drive", the test is whether or not it is a fly ball. Video 6 gives NO indication the ball is a fly ball because it does not meet the "high in the air in flight" definition of a fly ball. It is not a fly ball, therefore cannot be an infield fly.

It's peculiar Anon 2:44 mentions Jim Evan's take on this play. One of the things I enjoyed about attending the 5 week Evan's academy training was that he also gave the history and evolution of the rules. I just went back and checked my notes on IFF rule. The purpose of the rule is to protect the runners from being easily doubled-up. When fly balls are hit to the outfield, runners will typically go "half-way" and then proceed to the next base if not caught or go back when caught. The problem with the infield is the shorter throw to a base puts the runner in a no win situation. I know I'm stating the obvious, but the KEY I'm trying to point out is that it's the amount of TIME that is important which is why it only applies to balls hit HIGH IN THE AIR. Line drives, or that batted ball from video 6 (call it whatever you want) hits the ground pretty quickly, therefore the runner doesn't have time to advance "half-way" and get caught in dead mans land and does not need the same protection he would if it were a high fly ball.

I attended Jim Evans school before video 6 occurred so we did not discuss this specific play, but Jim Evans explanation put forth by Anon 2:44 contradicts what I learned from Jim Evans a few years back. Maybe I wasn't a very good student...but I was one of the finalists for PBUC so I couldn't have been too bad.

Gil Imber said...

You're right, number 8's video link was incorrect, it has been fixed: COL@SF: Scutaro's running catch of Melky Cabrera's pop-up.

Jerry said...

This is awesome. Obviously, mike Everitt got the call wrong by calling the Pirates runner out at second base, but this post is an excellent educational resources for a thorough understanding of the infield fly rule. Whether you're little league, high school, college or even pro, I'd encourage all umpires, no matter the experience level, to read this post and watch these videos. Ver comprehensive look at this rule, I thought I knew everything about this rule, but didn't quite know where to draw the line between fly ball and high liner. #6 was a great help. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the rule sets and/or interpretations that say that if the umpires do not call "Infield Fly" but in retrospect maybe it should have been, then the players are expected to comprehend that and act accordingly. So, tell me how anybody is expected to know when the umpires are NOT calling the IF versus when they just forgot to.

Mike said...

Anonymous said... So, tell me how anybody is expected to know when the umpires are NOT calling the IF versus when they just forgot to.

When the point into the air and "say IF.:"

Anonymous said...

Mike, you missed my point. In high school, the IF rule can be called after the fact, even if it was not called during real time action. The players are "expected" to know the rule. Honest to goodness, this is an official interpretation. Check it out. I think it is an absurd interpretation.

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