Topic: Infield fly rule

moschler    -- 06-20-2005 @ 7:33 AM
  I know what criteria (less than two outs, force at third, pop fly..)  What does a coach/ player do if the umpire doesn't call it( because they don't recognize or aren't paying attention)?  Can you appeal it...or do you just play as if the rule didn't exist...Remedy for not calling?

Jim_Thompson    -- 06-20-2005 @ 11:30 AM
  If this happens there is probavbly going to be a goat-roping!!! Players and coaches are supposed to know the rules. If, in an infield fly situation(men on first and second or bases loaded with less than two out) the umpire does not make the call, theorically the infield fly rule still applies. As a coach or player you have to use judgment to see what you can do. If the ball isn't caught and you are on offense, you should probably have your runners stay on their bases and if the umpire rules them out on a force play at the next base, call his attention to the proper rule. If they advance and are not tagged out, have them stay on the base and explain the rule that says it is not a force. Actually you've asked a question that has no real answer. If the rule is improperly applied and your organization allows protests, you have a reason to protest. Other comments?


Memphis    -- 06-20-2005 @ 12:44 PM
  This is an excellent question.

And Jim's right - you won't find any answer to this difficult question in any rule book.

But there ARE official interpretations that cover this.

The official interpretation under FED (i.e. high school) rules is almost exactly as Jim has described it. If the umpire fails to call an Infield Fly on a batted ball that should have been - the runners (and fielders) are expected to know that it *is* an Infield Fly and treat it accordingly.

The umpire can retroactively rule the hit as an Infield Fly although he may not have said anything while the play was in progress.

If either side is disadvantaged as a result the only answer you will get is, "Oops! We screwed up. You should've known better."

The problem with this particular official interpretation is that it ignores those "Infield Flys" that aren't so clear cut. What about a high pop-up that forces an infielder to back peddle? Is this an Infield Fly? Does the catch require an "ordinary effort"? Some umpire may think the catch is routine and call it as such - another umpire might think differently. The players are relying on the umpire's ruling to determine HOW to proceed. How is the runner supposed to know what to do when the ball is dropped if the umpire had not ruled it an Infield Fly? Is he forced to run?

On the other hand ...

Official Baseball Rules (OBR) has a completely different official interpretation for this situation.

Should the umpire fail to call an Infield Fly and it *should* have been, the play will proceed as if it is not an Infield Fly *UNLESS*, as a result, the defense gains an undeserved double play as a result of the umpire's failure to rule it an Infield Fly.

If the defense does not gain a double play ... then the ball is ruled as NOT being an Infield Fly. Afterall, the whole point of the Infield Fly Rule is to preclude the defense using a dropped ball as a way of gaining an extra out. If the defense doesn't gain an extra out, then it really doesn't matter that the umpire improperly ruled the hit as NOT being an Infield Fly.

If the defense DOES gain a double play ... then the umpire can retroactively rule the hit as an Infield Fly and rectify the situation.

EXAMPLE #1: R1 and R2, no outs. Pop-up hit to the 3rd baseman. There is no ruling of an Infield Fly. The ball is dropped, the 3rd baseman quickly picks up the ball and steps on the bag for a force out of R2 and then fires across the diamond and still forces out the batter.

FED ruling: If the umpires believe they simply forgot to call an Infield Fly on a ball that should have obviously been ruled as such - they will expect the players (both offense and defense) to have played it accordingly. Therefore the batter is out because it was an Infield Fly and R2 is *not* out because there was never a force play at 3rd.

OBR ruling: If the umpires believe they simply forgot to call an Infield Fly on a ball that should have obviously been ruled as such - they will allow the play to stand as long as the defense did not gain an undeserved double play. On this particular play the defense *did* gain as a result of the dropped ball - the very thing the Infield Fly Rule was designed to prevent. Therefore, an Infield Fly is retroactively called. The batter is out and the runner at 3rd is *not* out.

In this case, the two rulings are the same, but for different reasons.

EXAMPLE #2: R1 and R2, no outs. Pop-up hit to the 3rd baseman. The same results as in example #1 except the 3rd baseman's throw to 1st is too late to retire the batter.

FED ruling: Same ruling as above. Batter is out and R2 is not out. It's an Infield Fly.

OBR ruling: Play stands as played since the defense did not gain an unfair extra out. R2 is out on the force. Batter is safe at 1st.

The above ruling highlights the major difference between FED and OBR.

Here's the argument that will occur in a FED game as a result of the above play. Let's say, because R2 never heard a ruling of an Infield Fly, he was of the opinion that he was forced to run once the ball was dropped. This is why he attempts to advance to 3rd. But the 3rd baseman stepped on the bag (also thinking it was a force out) before R2 got there. The defense ALSO realizes that an Infield Fly was not called. R2 arrives at 3rd and is allowed to stay once the play is retroactively ruled as an Infield Fly. The fielder needed to TAG the runner because there was no force.

The defense will argue, "But you didn't call it an Infield Fly. We thought there was a force play at 3rd."

Answer, "But you should have KNOWN that it was an Infield Fly and played it accordingly."

Want to make the FED play even MORE complicated? Let's say, after the 3rd baseman steps on the bag and R2 hears the umpire rule him out (on a "force" play), R2 walks off the field and enters the dugout?

The umpire's then call a retroactive Infield Fly and call the batter out as a result. The other runners were allowed to advance at their own risk and R2 is now *NOT* out on the force ... BUT HE'S IN THE DUGOUT!

Here come the fireworks.

The OBR official interpretation is MUCH, MUCH better.

And of course, we haven't touched upon what happens when the umpires declare an Infield Fly and it's *NOT*!  For instance, what if there is only a runner at 1st and the umpire declares an Infield Fly ... and it's dropped?

David Emerling
Memphis, TN

This message was edited by Memphis on 6-20-05 @ 12:48 PM

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