The rule book has a lot of weird and esoteric rules. They are designed to make the game safe. In the beginning of the game, an umpire has the right to call the player out simply because he’s upset with how the player is behaving. Or, a baseball hit hard to the outfield that bounces in front of the umpire is ruled an error if the ball is in the grass, but is a hit if the ball is in the air. These rules are designed to give the player a fair shot.
The rule is not the same as in the past and is highly conditional. Any balls that are hit at the ground and not in the air will be considered out and will be counted as an out if the batter is a baserunner.
What is the Infield Fly Rule Definition?
An infield fly is a fly ball hit into an infielder’s arms, or, another infielder, and is judged a fair ball if the infielder drops the ball and has no action in catching it.
“…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.”
An inning was over with two outs if the ball hits the ground beyond the infield or the outfield, and the runner is out. But an inning was not over if the ball hit a wall, or a fence, or if a ground rule double was in play. In other words, in a defensive inning, runners are out when they are out — their outs are real — but the inning is not over.
This rule still applies to the bottom of eight innings (see Inning). The number of outs is counted from the end of the previous inning to the end of the next inning.
What is the Infield Fly Rule in More Explanation?
While it seems simple-if there is an out, there is an infield fly-this is not the case. Each situation is unique and the conditions for having an infield fly are not always met. Because of this, an umpire must have discretion to determine if there is or is not an infield fly. This is where the third base umpire comes into play.
The umpire who hears the ball over his left ear makes the judgment call. If he sees the ball over the top of the pitcher’s shoulder, or over his glove, he calls nothing but an out. If the ball drops in front of the pitcher’s rubber, or lands away from him, then the umpire has just made a very difficult judgment call. An umpire must make the call quickly and correctly or he risks leaving a runner in scoring position, and that is simply unacceptable.
The ruling stands. The batter’s feet are where they belong and the batter cannot legally leave the batter’s box.
Baseball’s decision to adopt this out-of-bounds procedure was partly because of the difficulty of deciding whether a foul ball was in flight or not.
What is the Point of the Infield Fly Rule?
The infield fly rule in baseball was first established to prevent the defensive team from getting an unfair advantage by causing a force play on the defense. The rule was originally established to prevent defensive plays. In short, the infield fly rule was initially established to help keep gameplay even. As time passed the rule became used to keep infield flies in play, and was later extended to allow a fielder with a better opportunity to catch the ball. In this case, the infielder’s only concern would be if he was able to catch the ball with ease.
History of the Rule
While it’s easy to say that gloves were ultimately the reason why baseball is what it is today, there are many other factors which helped shape this sport. Baseball was a multi-sport in the early 1890s in the United States. Teams would play as much baseball as they could. This was a by-product to try and keep the players healthy during their times off from playing ball.
This baseball rule is one of the more obscure but nevertheless important rules in baseball. The infield fly rule was instituted to minimize the number of errors on the field. With this rule, a player must not only run from home plate to the pitcher’s spot, he must also throw the ball into the outfield.
Do Runners Have to Tag on an Infield Fly?
If a ball gets hit into a fielder’s hands and he is unable to throw it to first, the batter is often able to get home. However, it is not always that easy. Sometimes, the ball is caught by a third or even fourth baseman who has no other option to throw it to first. In this case, the batter has to decide whether to tag up or stay put at his own risk. In the case of both a third or fourth baseman’s throwing the ball back to the infield, the infield fly rule applies.
When an infield fly play occurs, the baserunner has no correct course of action. If they take off, they might get an out. If they stay on base, they might get thrown out by the third-base umpire. What they do has no bearing on the play.
In the case of a ground ball going through the infield, the runner has options. If he is able to advance, he can score; if not, he just makes it easier for the defense by placing himself in a position to advance on a single.
Can an Outfielder Catch an Infield Fly?
The infield fly rule is used to judge whether a batted ball, coming near the ground, may have been handled better by an infielder than a fielder. This is in contrast to the “fly” that is already in the rulebook; the infield fly rule can be used to change the classification of a fly ball that would otherwise be classified as a fly.
The Braves had a man in scoring position with one out and a man on first. They had only one choice. They could throw everything but the kitchen sink at two-time NL MVP Matt Kemp. And after a pop-up by the catcher, the Cardinals had a 6-2 lead. On second base, however, first base umpire Jerry Meals had thrown the ball back to the pitcher, who quickly threw it to the catcher. The umpire threw it back to the pitcher, because he wasn’t sure which player had the ball. The ball bounced back into play. Third base umpire Dana DeMuth called St. Louis out.
The home team won the game 4-2. In the top of the first inning, Cardinals pitcher John Lackey threw a pitch to the Braves’ Andrelton Simmon. Simmon popped the ball up to shallow left field-not exactly the infield. The ball was not caught in the outfield. However, the judgment of the umpire was applicable, and Simmon was out. Atlanta was not able to load the bases for a rally and eventually lost to St. Louis.
Conclusion on the Infield Fly Rule
The infield fly rule is designed around situations in which a fielder has no chance of catching a ball as it sails back to the infield, but rather has an out to a base. The rule works as a safety net to prevent a runner from gaining an advantage over the other base runners. If the ball is dropped by the pitcher and the batter fails to tag the ball, then the runner is out, and the batter is awarded first base.
If a fly ball in center field that’s not caught breaks the plane of the outfield wall, it must be automatically tagged as an infield fly. Teams can adjust for the unusual by placing the ball just in front of or behind the stands. It’s pretty rare–only 19 occurrences since 1985 and none since 2014–but it does happen.
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