One of the most confusing rules that baseball has is known as the infield fly rule. This rule has confused players, coaches and parents alike for many years. So let’s look at why this is so confusing and get rid of that confusion at the same time.
The infield fly rule is set in place to stop the following scenario from happening. There are runners on first and second bases and only one out. The player at bat hits a pop fly that is at the third baseman. He lets the pop fly hit the ground intentionally then picks up the ball, tags third base and throws the ball to the second baseman thus getting a double play because the runners on first and second are tagging up on their bases thinking the ball is going to be caught.
Seems simple enough when you put it like that no? Let’s look at it a little more in depth then. The confusion seems to hit with the scenarios that could cause the infield fly rule to be called. If there are less than two outs and runners on first and second, or with the bases loaded. One thing that confuses people is that this rule does not apply if there is a runner only on first base. If there is no forced play at third base or home plate, this rule does not apply. The thing to keep in mind here is that the defensive team will only get a double play on them if the runner who hit the ball does not run to first base.
Now that you know when the call is made, let’s look at the call itself in a game situation. This rule is totally a judgment call by the umpire. That means that it is the umpires’ decision to either call “infield fly, batter out” or not. If the umpire does not call that, the rule is not in play and the double play is allowed. This rule is in place to give the umpire the power to determine to apply the rule or not to. Make sure that players are not assuming an infield pop fly situation as you may lose many games this way. One more point of confusion here could happen if the pop fly is a foul ball. The ball flies into the air, the umpire calls “infield fly, batter out” and the ball then lands on the other side of the foul line. In this case the batter would not be out at all though the call was made. That is the reason umpires are taught to call “infield fly if fair” when they are making their calls to avoid additional confusion.
The players on the bases can attempt to advance to their next base at their own risk in any situation here. The trouble is if the ball is caught, they then have to tag up on their base, so it is a very risky move to assume the third baseman is going to let it drop, because they could catch it then throw to the base for another easy out.
So now you know more about this confusing rule. Take this knowledge forth and keep your learning going!