Infield Fly Rule

A Layman's Guide to the Infield Fly Rule and When it is Invoked

Confused about infield fly rule? Look no further! After reading this article, hopefully, you will be out of your confusion! Scroll down for details!
They say that gentlemen are supposed to play a fair game. But then, all is fair in love and war, isn't that also said? This can be said in connection with a baseball game too. I mean yes, you are supposed to play a fair game, but then who doesn't want to win? Moreover, to win a game then sometimes there are minor and not very apparent tactics which are used by players from two teams against each other. However, in this case, the players cannot get away saying that all is fair in love and war. A player does something funny and he can be penalized by the game officials. That can affect the overall situation of the game too. One such rule in baseball is the infield fly rule. There is actually a lot of confusion about it amongst the players about this rule, though I am going to explain that through the text below.

What is Infield Fly Rule?

To begin with, basically, this rule came about for preventing infielders to purposely drop pop ups in a quest for easy double plays or triple plays. This rule is one of the highlights of Major League Baseball. There are three fundamental things which, if and when they happen get the infield fly rule in place.
  • There have to be less than 2 outs in the inning.
  • An infielder will catch the "pop up" in fair territory which the umpire may consider as a routine play or "sure thing".
  • At the third base or home plate, there has to be a force play.
This is what it is. Once the rule is invoked, the batter is declared out, even if the ball is caught or not. It then also negates the possibility for double or triple plays through force outs. If this rule is not there, the defense can convert a pop up in a double play.

Two Infield Fly Rule Scenarios

There are a couple of scenarios where this law can be explained well. The umpire has the complete authority to decide if the rule has to be invoked or not.

Situation 1
Any legal fly ball which could have been caught by an infielder without needing any special effort is covered under this rule. It does not matter then as to where the ball is caught.

Situation 2
The umpire has the full authority to declare 'infield fly if fair' in cases when the fly ball is near the foul lines. If the ball is not caught and ends up foul, the infield fly is not counted and the play is treated as an ordinary foul ball. On the contrary if the ball lands foul and then rolls fair, the infield fly comes into play and the batter is declared out.

What After the Infield Fly Rule is Called?

Once the infield fly rule comes into play, there a number of consequences of that on the game. These are -
  • Runners can advance at the risk of the ball being caught.
  • The ball need not be caught by an infielder.
  • Runners have to retouch the base prior to advancing.
  • There is no need to tag up in case, the player drops the infield fly.
  • Player who takes the infield fly ball gets the credit of a Putout.
  • The rule applies to pop ups only, no bunts and line drives are considered.
  • No error is charged to a player who drops a ball when the infield fly rule is in effect.
  • If no one catches it, the fielder closest gets the credit of a putout.
This is what this rule results in for the players, and it can alter the situation of the game. Last, but not the least, to avoid misconception and ambiguity, allow me to tell you that an infield fly rule cannot come into play with only a runner on first base! That's about it. So long till next time.
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