Tuesday, February 19, 2013

MLB Modifies Interference Rules, Including Infield Fly Case

MLB has amended the infield fly rule to address interference in the wake of August 26, 2012's Marlins vs. Dodgers game, in which a case of runner interference became entangled with the infield fly rule. Furthermore, the precise verbiage of the proposed modification to Rule 8.05 (fake to third balk) has been revealed. The phrase "or third" base also been added to Rule 8.05(b), which now reads, "it is a balk when—the pitcher, while touching his plate, feints a throw to first or third base and fails to complete the throw."

Modified text of Rule 8.05(c) Comment.
Rule 8.05(k)—formerly "drops the ball"—has changed to the more descriptive, "has the ball slip or fall out of his hand or glove."

See [Case Plays: Infield Interference, Foul Fly or Complete Chaos], 8/28/12

The following details a comprehensive look at the 2013 Official Baseball Rules changes:

Prior to the 2013 OBR rules change, the Rule 2.00 (Infield Fly) Comment's final paragraph read:
When an infield fly rule is called, runners may advance at their own risk. If on an infield fly rule, the infielder intentionally drops a fair ball, the ball remains in play despite the provisions of Rule 6.05(l). The infield fly rule takes precedence.
As a result of the confusion caused by the unique case of offensive interference occurring during an infield fly "if fair" play, in which fair/foul status has not yet been established when interference causes the ball to become dead (in which case fair/foul status cannot, by prior rule, be changed), the Official Playing Rules Committee has amended the Rule 2.00 (Infield Fly) Comment to include the following sentences:
If interference is called during an infield fly, the ball remains alive until it is determined whether the ball is fair or foul. If fair, both the runner who interfered with the fielder and the batter are out. If foul, even if caught, the runner is out and the batter returns to bat.
This change also eliminates the phrase "On any interference the ball is dead" from Rule 2.00 (Interference). Also added to 2.00 Interference (a) [Offensive Interference] Comment is the phrase:
If during an intervening play at the plate with less than two outs a runner scores, and then the batter-runner is called out for interference outside the three-foot lane, the runner is safe and the run shall count.
Because the phrase "on any interference the ball is dead" was removed from the Rules Book, language had to be applied à la carte to individual provisions. For instance, Rule 7.09 (it is interference by a batter or runner when—) was modified to delineate that if a batter "clearly" interferes with a catcher after a third strike, the ball is dead and runners may not advance.

Also modified were glove coloring guidelines (Rule 1.15: "no fielder, regardless of position, may use a fielding glove that falls within a PANTONE color set lighter than the current 14-series"), when a pitcher who ended an offensive half inning on the playing field (e.g., at-bat or on base) is required to pitch to the first batter (Rule 3.05: "makes contact with the pitcher's plate to begin his warm-up pitches") and the language of the suspended games rule 4.12.

Additionally, Rule 8.02's automatic ball rule for a pitcher who goes to his mouth/lips on the mound was scaled back such that umpires are to "remove the ball from play and issue a warning to the pitcher. Any subsequent violation shall be called a ball."

Lastly, the phrase "Wild Card" was added to appropriate sections of the OBR that refer to postseason play.

In regards to the aforementioned UEFL Case Play, this rules change has produced the following deviation:
Pre-2013 (e.g., 2012) Ruling: R1 was correctly ruled out for interference, B1 resumed his at-bat and R2 returned to second base; two outs, R2.
Post-Change (e.g., 2013) Ruling: R1 is ruled out for interference, B1 is ruled out under the infield fly rule as the ball became fair before becoming dead and R2 is returned to second base; three outs [R2].


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