Infield Fly Rule, Finally Explained!
The Infield Fly Rule Explained
Let’s all be honest here…there are a lot of tricky rules in this lovely game of ours. Examples: What is obstruction? What about fan interference? After a lot of little Jimmy’s baseball games, parents are often wondering if there is a consistently called strike zone. But quite possibly the biggest head scratcher is none other than the infield fly rule. We hope, that after reading this post, the perplexing rule will no longer be impossible to understand.
First, per the MLB rules (www.mlb.com), here is the the exact explanation of the infield fly rule:
“An INFIELD FLY is 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. The pitcher, catcher and any outfielder who stations himself in the infield on the play shall be considered infielders for the purpose of this rule.
When it seems apparent that a batted ball will be an Infield Fly, the umpire shall immediately declare Infield Fly for the benefit of the runners. If the ball is near the baselines, the umpire shall declare Infield Fly, if Fair.”
The ball is alive and runners may advance at the risk of the ball being caught, or retouch and advance after the ball is touched, the same as on any fly ball. If the hit becomes a foul ball, it is treated the same as any foul.
If a declared Infield Fly is allowed to fall untouched to the ground, and bounces foul before passing first or third base, it is a foul ball. If a declared Infield Fly falls untouched to the ground outside the baseline, and bounces fair before passing first or third base, it is an Infield Fly.
Rule 2.00 (Infield Fly) Comment: On the infield fly rule the umpire is to rule whether the ball could ordinarily have been handled by an infielder not by some arbitrary limitation such as the grass, or the base lines. The umpire must rule also that a ball is an infield fly, even if handled by an outfielder, if, in the umpire’s judgment, the ball could have been as easily handled by an infielder. The infield fly is in no sense to be considered an appeal play. The umpire’s judgment must govern, and the decision should be made immediately.
When an infield fly rule is called, runners may advance at their own risk. If on an infield fly rule, the infielder intentionally drops a fair ball, the ball remains in play despite the provisions of Rule 6.05 (L). The infield fly rule takes precedence.
Alright so let’s break this down. The most important facet of the rule is understanding and recognizing the situation that makes this rule a possibility of coming into play. First AND second base must be occupied for this to occur. The bases being loaded also makes this rule a possibility.
Another important aspect of this rule is any player, no matter their position, can be counted as an infielder if they station themselves in the infield on the play.
Finally, the rule only applies to batted balls that are FAIR. If the ball lands in fair territory untouched and bounces foul before passing 1st or 3rd base, it is ruled foul. Foul balls are foul balls and the rule does not apply.
It is because of last years Wild Card game between the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals that Rule 2.00 is a big deal. Long have we thought the infield fly rule only pertained to balls that were going to land in the infield. Now we know that is not the case. See for yourself what we are referring to here:
Though it was not a very popular call at the time, it appears to have been the right one. Though the ball landed in the outfield, because the shortstop made what was thought to be “ordinary effort” to get to the spot where the ball was landed, it is indeed subject to the infield fly rule.
The infield fly rule has many facets to it, ones that often confuse the common spectator. Hopefully, our breakdown leaves you with more understanding of both this rule and the game of baseball in general.