The infield fly rule can be commonly found in a game but it still causes confusion for many people on the sidelines. The rule itself is fairly simple, though the fact that it is put in play at the umpire’s discretion may cause confusion for some people.
When Is The Infield Fly Rule Used?
If the infield fly rule is going to be used, several criteria need to be met.
They are as follows:
1. There Must Be Less Than Two Outs
Infield fly rule won’t be used unless there are no outs or only one out. If there are two outs the rule won’t be used because it would bring the end of the team’s turn.
2. There Has To Be A Force Play
This rule also won’t be used if runners aren’t forced to run to third base or home plate. For this to happen, there would need to be runners on the first two bases or on all three bases.
Why Is This A Force Play?
If there are runners on the first two bases they will be forced to move on to the second and third bases respectively.
If there are runners on all three bases the runners would have to move to second, third, and home base respectively.
Because the runners don’t have a choice about running or staying (if they don’t move, they and their teammates are out) this is called a force play.
3. It Must Be A Fair Ball
In order for this rule to be put into play the ball has to be hit into fair territory. The ball also has to be hit into the infield.
4. It Must Be Able To Be Caught With Ordinary Effort
The ball must be able to be caught without any strenuous effort. This is where the infield fly rule can be seen as confusing by some. It is up to the umpire to determine if the ball can be easily caught. Different umpires will have different definitions, but if they determine a ball to be an infield fly they will signal and call it out.
The ball will still be seen as an infield fly even if it is not caught by the infielders. Once an infield fly is called, it’s fair game for anyone on the field to catch, including the outfielders, pitcher, and catcher. However, the ball remains an infield fly even if no one catches it. Once the rule is put into play it cannot be reversed.
5. The Batter Is Out
As soon as an infield fly rule is called the batter is automatically out. This can’t be changed, no matter what happens. Even if no one on the field actually catches the ball the batter stays out.
Why Is Infield Fly Rule Used?
The infield fly rule was put into place to make sure that teams weren’t given unfair advantages during a game. Before the rule was put into place, if a pop-up ball was hit into the infield, the players on the other team had the option to let the ball fall instead of catching it. This kept the ball live, and instead of getting just one out, they were able to make double and triple plays.
The infield fly rule helps to protect people from this by making sure that the runners in a force play position aren’t made to run if a pop-up is put into play. Instead, the batter who hit the ball is called out and the other runners are able to decide between staying on their base or making a run for the next base.
After the batter is called out, everything resumes as normal. Runners are free to try to steal or run for the next base, but if the ball is caught they must tag up before continuing.
Is There Anything Else I Should Know?
Even though this rule applies to infield balls, a bunt or a line drive will never be up for consideration as an infield fly. This is because this rule requires the ball to be an easy catch - it can’t have contact with the ground before the rule is called.
Another interesting aspect of this rule is that if a player is hit with the ball while standing on a base will not be declared out. This is the only instance of this happening when the ball is hit fair.
How Will I Know If It’s An Infield Fly?
To determine if the ball is an infield fly, simply go through the above checklist and keep an eye on the umpires. If the play meets all of the above criteria and the umpire decides to make the call, they will do so by signaling the play and calling it out. Typically, the signal for this play is to raise the right arm straight in the air.