Thursday, June 2, 2022

Ask UEFL - Angel in the Infield Fly & Intentional Drop?

 answers two questions for the price of one in this Ask the UEFL infield fly and intentional drop rule double feature in a game between the Orioles and Cardinals with umpire Angel Hernandez behind the plate in St Louis. With none out and two on (R1, R2), Orioles batter Chris Owings' sacrifice bunt attempt goes horribly awry as the pitch from Nick Wittgren is bunted high into the air in front of the pitcher's mound.

Baltimore Pitcher Wittgren permits the batted ball to fall to the ground untouched before picking up the fair ball and throwing to third base to force out the lead runner, with third baseman Nolan Arenado throwing on to second base to force out R1 Robinson Chirinos.

The two-pronged question—why isn't this an infield fly and why isn't this an intentional drop—rely on two sections of the Official Baseball Rules. First, the Definition of Terms states, "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."

OBR 5.09(a)(12) discusses intentional drops and states that the batter is out when "An infielder intentionally drops a fair fly ball or line drive, with first, first and second, first and third, or first, second and third base occupied before two are out. The ball is dead and runner or runners shall return to their original base or bases."

However, the pertinent part for this particular play is the following APPROVED RULING: "In this situation, the batter is not out if the infielder permits the ball to drop untouched to the ground, except when the Infield Fly rule applies."

When HP Umpire Hernandez signals "safe," Angel is thus communicating two different, but related, no-calls: It is not an infield fly because it is an attempted bunt, and it is not an intentional drop because the fielder permitted the ball to drop untouched and the infield fly does not apply.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Bunt & no-touch fall lead to Cards' double play at Busch Stadium (CCS)


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