Tuesday, August 12, 2008

IBRS: infield fly

IBRS = Interesting Baseball Rules Series. 

Bringing to light some of the lesser known and misunderstood rules of the great American pastime. 

Whether or not it's actually interesting, well that's debatable. It's just my way of filling the space. (Actually, it's more about the rules being interesting than my perspective on them.) 

Here's a quick overview of one of the more difficult to understand rules in the game, the infield fly.
The infield fly rule (IFR) only applies with fewer than two outs.
The IFR is designed to prevent infielders from creating a double (or triple) play situation by dropping an easily caught popped-up ball. Therefore, if there are already two outs, the IFR is not applicable (because it is unnecessary).
It applies when there are runners on first and second OR when the bases are loaded.
The reason for this is that there MUST be a force play possible at third base. If there's only a runner on first, the IFR doesn't apply because there is not a realistic double play that could be made.
The ball must be fair.
If the ball drops in foul territory the batter is NOT out.
The ball does not have to be caught in the infield.
If the umpire calls for the IFR, the batter is out UNLESS the ball drops in foul territory. It may be caught in foul territory, or it may drop or be caught anywhere in fair territory.
The ball does NOT have to be caught.
If the umpire calls for the IFR, the batter is out UNLESS the ball drops in foul territory.
The ball must be "catchable with ordinary effort."
That means that if the infielder has to dive, run, or make some kind of spectacular effort to get to the ball, the umpire can decide the IFR doesn't apply.
The runners CAN advance on the play.
Since the IFR only applies with fewer than two out, the runners may tag up (if the ball is caught) or just run (if it drops fair) and take a base. The force play does not apply (since the batter is already out) and the infielder must tag the runner to get the out.
The umpire has to call for the IFR.
He may call "Infield fly, batter's out," or "Infield fly if fair," to indicate that the runners should tag up.
The IFR does not apply to popped-up bunts or line drives.
There is another rule that prevents infielders from intentionally dropping line drives in order to turn a double play. The Intentional Dropping Rule (6.05L) states that an infielder cannot touch the ball (in a line drive situation) and then drop it so as to force a double play.
Coming up next: The balk.