The infield fly rule in baseball isn’t really difficult to understand, only if you remember it’s main purpose. This rule, which is not designed by who invented baseball but by MLB, takes effect on a fair fly ball that a pitcher, an infielder can catch, or a catcher with ordinary efforts, and where runners are present on the first and second or the first, second, and third and not more than two outs.
However, line drivers and bunts don’t apply to this rule. You’ll agree with me if I say the infield fly rule is the most understood rule in baseball. It gets a lot more confusing since it’s left to the judgment of the umpire whenever it’s applied.
Originally designed by major league baseball, this rule deals with strategies that undermine the game; and creates shady advantages. It was made primarily to guarantee good sportsmanship and fair play during a game of baseball. In a situation where an infield is called, the batter is out, and the ball stays live, not minding if the ball is caught or not. Therefore, runners are permitted to advance (but at their own risk), noting that the ball either hits the ground or the runner tags up as soon as the ball is caught.
KEY ELEMENTS TO UNDERSTANDING THE INFIELD FLY RULE
- The number of outs needs to be less than 2
- There must be runners on the first and second or with loaded bases.
- The fly ball can never be a line drive or a bunt.
- An infielder must have the ability to catch the ball with ordinary effort.
The primary aim of the infield fly rule is to provide some level of protection to the runner on the base. It isn’t meant to be a gift for the defense. When the batter is called out, runners on base are protected against a team, giving room for a shallow fly ball to drop in with the primary intention of resulting in a force play that wouldn’t happen if the ball were caught in the air.
With the exception of this rule, the defense could let the ball fall untouched to the ground and even turn an easy double-play since runners would have to tag up for the fly ball. You should always note that the infield fly rule is a judgment call done by the umpire. If the umpire decides that a player can make a catch with ordinary effort, then the infield fly rule is applicable. The umpire is expected to yell “infield fly if fair,” and in normal instances, would raise one arm to alert everyone that the rule is in effect. In situations where the umpire believes the catch is sure, he can call the play an infield fly with the batter declared out, even when the ball isn’t caught.
HOW CAN I CALL AN INFIELD FLY?
Since an infield fly rule is a judgment call made by the umpire, it may be called depending on the conditions of the game and also based on the umpire in-game. The umpire knows the basics of the call and understands that calls have to be made as soon as they determine the play meets the rule’s criteria. This is, however, based on their judgment.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I DROP AN INFIELD FLY?
Irrespective of whether the ball is caught or not, once the umpire calls the infield fly, the batter is out. The ball stays live and base runners are permitted to advance at their own risk. But in this situation, there’ll no longer be a force play on the runner, and fielders have to tag them out instead of touching the base alone.
CAN THE UMPIRE CALL THE INFIELD FLY RULE ON A FOUL BALL?
Well, an infield fly rule is only applicable to a fair ball. In situations where the ball is caught or dropped in foul territory, it isn’t considered an infield fly. In addition, when a ball seems to be fair and the umpire calls an infield fly, as soon as it drifts into foul territory, whether caught or not, it’s not an infield fly.You can also learn more about why infield fly is important in baseball on Lost In Boston Sports websites.
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