The Infield Fly Rule Explained

There’s one rule in baseball that everyone has probably heard of, but few fans know all the specifics and why it exists.  That rule would be the Infield Fly Rule.  For my part, I’ve heard of it and had it explained to me, but I always forget when it applies, and I’ve never understood why it exists.  I thought it might be a good time to do some research and get it down on virtual paper for everyone.  So let’s all become experts on the Infield Fly Rule!

First off, let’s define an infield fly.  An infield fly is a fly ball that would fall into the infield (basically, within the baseball diamond) that the umpire deems could be caught with ordinary effort (notice that not all infield flies fit this rule).  Line drives and bunted balls don’t count as infield flies.  The rule also only applies if there are less than two outs and there are runners on first and second base or the bases are loaded (many fans are unaware of this exception).

Once the ball reaches its apex, if the umpire judges that the ball will drop in the infield, he will call, “Infield fly.  Batter is out.”  The batter is automatically out, whether or not a defensive player makes the catch.  At that point, any runner on base who advances does so at his own risk.  As usual, if the ball is caught, they have to tag up, but if it is dropped, they do not.

Those are the basics of the rule.  But as with most things baseball, there are exceptions, and especially in this case because the umpire has to make a judgment call about where the ball will fall.  Say a ball is popped up to third base, the ump calls an infield fly, and then the ball falls in foul territory.  Since the rule only applies to a fair ball, it would not apply in this case (even though the ump called it), and the batter would not be out and would be charged with a foul.  This is one of the few cases where an umpire’s call is rescinded.  This could also happen if the ball falls in fair territory but then rolls into foul territory.  Since the umpire makes the call before the ball actually drops, you could also have a situation where the umpire calls an infield fly, but a player catches the ball slightly in the outfield.  In this situation, the call would still hold since it was in fair territory.

I’ve always wondered why the baseball gods came up with this rule.  Now I’ve learned that the purpose is to prevent a person from intentionally dropping a ball in order to get a cheap double play.  For example, suppose the rule didn’t exist, and there are runners at 1st and 2nd.  A third baseman could intentionally drop a fly ball hit to him, tag third base to get the guy coming from 2nd out (he’s forced to run because there are now 2 guys behind him), then throw to first to get the batter out.  If he just caught the ball, the batter would be out, and the guy on second would not be forced to run.  Pretty sneaky stuff.

While doing my research, I also came across a rule that I had never heard of.  It’s similar to the infield fly rule.  This is the Intentionally Dropped Ball Rule (That sounds so silly – I bet even my brothers haven’t heard of this one).  Here is the official baseball rule:  “A 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.”  In this case, line drives and bunts are included, and any situation where there is a force play is included.  The call is made after the play, and the ball is considered dead to be fair to the base runners, because the umpire does not have as much time to make a ruling in this case.  The reasoning is the same – to prevent a player from making a cheap double play.  It fills in the loopholes from the Infield Fly Rule and keeps the game fair.

Now that we can all pat ourselves on the shoulder for our impressive baseball knowledge, let’s move on to the spit counts!  I have two for you today:

September 12th

Giants:

         Sandoval 10

–         Huff 5

–         Surkamp 4

–         Ramirez 3

–         H. Sanchez 3

–         Ross 2

–         Torres 2

–         Keppinger 1

–         Beltran 1

–         Stewart 1 (He didn’t even play in this game!)

–         Burriss 1

Padres:

–         Blanks 3

–         Hundley 2

–         Hudson 2

–         Harang 1

–         Maybin 1

Game Spit Master General = Sandoval at 10

That’s a total of 42 spits during a 2 hour and 55 minute game for an average of 1 spit almost every 4 minutes.

We had a very low spit count today.  This is probably due to the fact that Stewart and Cain weren’t playing!  Notice that the kids (Surkamp and H. Sanchez) are joining in on the fun.

September 13th

Giants:

–         Sandoval 13

–         Cain 6

–         Keppinger 4

–         Affeldt 4

–         Ross 4

–         Pill 3

–         Christian 2

–         Whiteside 2

–         Gillaspie 2

–         Beltran 1

–         J. Sanchez 1

–         Cabrera 1

–         DeRosa 1

–         Burriss 1

–         Casilla 1

–         Ramirez 1

–         Torres 1

Padres:

–         Hundley 7

–         Luebke 4

–         Venable 2

–         Guzman 1

–         Gregerson 1

–         Hudson 1

–         Darnell 1

–         Bass 1

Misc.:

–         Umpire 1

–         Cameraman 1 (!!!!!!!)

Game Spit Master General = Sandoval at 13

That’s a total of 68 spits during a 3 hour and 50 minute game for an average of more than 1 spit every 3.5 minutes.

Geez, everyone was getting in on the action today – even a cameraman!  Something white (and disgusting) fell out of his mouth while the cameras were on him.  A lot of Giants got caught in the dugout today, especially Affeldt (4 times), spitting up a storm while wearing his ace bandage over his hamburger-related injury.

I was thrilled to be able to attend 2 of the Dodgers games this past weekend.  On Friday night, I got fantastic tickets last minute from my wonderful brother, Paul, and ended up going with my friend, Donna.  We were so excited that we giggled the whole drive there.  We sat 9 rows back right behind third base – best seat I’ve ever had.  They didn’t win the game, but we had a great time anyway.  And in keeping with the thinking positive theme, I’ll list some of the positives from the game:

-I got to watch Timmy pitch up close and personal (love his form!).

-I got to watch Beltran and Christian make great catches.

-I got to see Pablo and Cody field up close (could even see them spit!).

-I got to watch the Giants have the lead for 7 innings (sigh).

-I got to watch Javi warm up in the bull pen up close.

-Best of all, I got to watch Eli catch for Javi ABOUT 20 FEET AWAY FROM ME!!!

The other Dodgers game I went to was on Sunday with 2 of my brothers, my sister, their families, and a dear friend from college, Dianna (10 of us all together).  The day started with getting to watch my 21-month-old, adorable, Giants gear-wearing niece hamming it up at the train station – what a doll!  The game was fun, the company was great, and we socked it to the Dodgers!  WOOHOO!  We had been trying to go to a game together all season, and it finally happened.  I always love when I get to hear Tony sing after the game.  And Eli hit an RBI single!!!  Something I didn’t hear mentioned was the fact that recently called up relief pitcher, Waldis Joaquin, did a fabulous job during that game.  Congrats, Kid!

Cutie alert for all you girls out there:  During Tuesday night’s game, they introduced 3 new Giants draft picks.  One of these is Andrew Susac, a catcher.  What a cutie!  Google him!  Looking forward to seeing that guy behind the plate in the future, but sad that his face will be covered up by a mask!

I have been enjoying these last few Giants games tremendously.  It’s been reminding me of all the fun we had at the end of last season (and before they got into this slump this year).  It was nice to have a reason to jump up and down in front of the TV again.  The walk off on Tuesday night was invigorating (even though it took them 12 innings to do it!).  Ginny – your text at the end of the game made me smile!  The magic number is now at 6.  For those that don’t know what this means (I only found out at the end of last season), if the number of D-Back wins plus Giants losses before the end of the season totals 6 or more, the D-Bags will win the division.  But we’d still have a chance at the wild card (positive thoughts, positive thoughts).  Even though our chances are slim, I’m still pulling for my boys.  I really think they can still do it.  They are on fire right now.  Let’s keep this streak going on the road.  GO GIANTS!!

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