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Saturday, October 06, 2012

MLB Network: Harold on the infield fly rule

Harold Reynolds talks [sic] the disputed infield fly call from the NL Wild Card game and shows it is common in baseball games.

bobm Posted: October 06, 2012 at 08:36 PM | 117 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: braves, cardinals, infield fly, postseason

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   1. UCCF Posted: October 06, 2012 at 10:58 PM (#4257401)
I usually hate having Harold Reynolds on my TV, but I thought he did a really nice job after the game yesterday talking through the play. He showed at least one of these other games as an example as well.

Maybe the explanation is that this play is kind of in Harold's wheelhouse - as a former middle infielder, he's probably very familiar with the ins and outs of the infield fly rule.

And it's as good a place as any to point out how sad the world would be without the MLB Network (even with the festival of crap that is Intentional Talk).
   2. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: October 06, 2012 at 11:08 PM (#4257416)
And it's as good a place as any to point out how sad the world would be without the MLB Network (even with the festival of crap that is Intentional Talk).


I don't think I've watched 20 minutes of baseball tonight since MLBN launched. It may not be perfect but they have done a great job with it. The two biggest changes between MLBN and ESPN that I've seen is that MLB recognizes that there are thirty teams, not four or five and its ok to like baseball.
   3. UCCF Posted: October 06, 2012 at 11:16 PM (#4257429)
The two biggest changes between MLBN and ESPN that I've seen is that MLB recognizes that there are thirty teams, not four or five and its ok to like baseball.

There were so many nights this summer where I just put MLB Tonight on in the background and listened as they looked in and out of different games. I think that's my favorite feature - the chance to just pop in and see a couple of outs here and there. I feel like I followed baseball more closely this year than I have in at least a decade, and it's largely the result of being able to get such a broad view of the leagues every night.

Though ultimately I think it makes MLB.tv redundant. I shelled out for it at the beginning of the year, but probably watched fewer than 20 games in total. I guess if the Cubs had been a bit better, I'd have liked to be able to keep tuning in to watch. But with being out of it by the end of April, I'm just as happy to get the one- or two-inning snippets as I am to watch the whole games.
   4. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: October 06, 2012 at 11:24 PM (#4257437)
There were so many nights this summer where I just put MLB Tonight on in the background and listened as they looked in and out of different games. I think that's my favorite feature - the chance to just pop in and see a couple of outs here and there. I feel like I followed baseball more closely this year than I have in at least a decade, and it's largely the result of being able to get such a broad view of the leagues every night.


I do this also. I much prefer this to them showing live games.
   5. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: October 06, 2012 at 11:25 PM (#4257439)
I don't know if Reynolds had much to do with it or not, but whoever put that clip together deserves a lot of credit.
   6. cardsfanboy Posted: October 06, 2012 at 11:37 PM (#4257470)
I don't know if Reynolds had much to do with it or not, but whoever put that clip together deserves a lot of credit.


Second that. It makes me feel less dirty about the Cardinals winning that game. I still think it's the wrong call, but not nearly as adamantly as I had before.
   7. GregD Posted: October 06, 2012 at 11:47 PM (#4257486)
Yes that is a great clip.
   8. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: October 07, 2012 at 12:02 AM (#4257504)
Wow that really is fantastic. Like cfb I'm still not sold that it's the right call but that is an excellent bit of reporting.
   9. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: October 07, 2012 at 12:23 AM (#4257518)
Yeah, MLB Network has their share of idiot talking heads (Reynolds isn't the only one) but I concur that it was nice to just have it on as background noise as they looked into games during the season. Especially once the Red Sox were cooked.
   10. Howie Menckel Posted: October 07, 2012 at 12:50 AM (#4257542)

It was not an indefensible call, upon further review.

Late and not in a spot where it gets called, so problematic.

But odd. The saving grace is recognizing how much/little damage was allowed by the new Maddux.....
   11. Mayor Blomberg Posted: October 07, 2012 at 12:58 AM (#4257548)
It was very late and it was farther out than Starlin was by a good bit. Not crazy about either, really.
   12. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: October 07, 2012 at 01:36 AM (#4257564)
I usually hate having Harold Reynolds on my TV, but I thought he did a really nice job after the game yesterday talking through the play. He showed at least one of these other games as an example as well.


Reynolds is excellent at dissecting and explaining what happens between the white lines. It's his habit of deferring to old-school thinking when it comes to evaluating player talent/ability that makes him difficult to listen to.

There were so many nights this summer where I just put MLB Tonight on in the background and listened as they looked in and out of different games. I think that's my favorite feature - the chance to just pop in and see a couple of outs here and there. I feel like I followed baseball more closely this year than I have in at least a decade, and it's largely the result of being able to get such a broad view of the leagues every night.


I do this pretty much every night I'm home during the season. I was an MLB Extra Innings subscriber for years and missed it greatly when I opted not to subscribe in 2007 or 2008. MLB Tonight's format while the games are happening has made it such that I almost don't feel the need to ever subscribe to the Extra Innings package again.
   13. Monty Posted: October 07, 2012 at 01:43 AM (#4257565)
I found that clip entirely convincing. Well done, MLB Network!
   14. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: October 07, 2012 at 01:57 AM (#4257567)
I'm sold, too. Very good video.
   15. DFA Posted: October 07, 2012 at 02:08 AM (#4257570)
Brian Kenny brings a lot to MLB network, and for what it is I realistically could not have imagined them doing it better. Harold Reynolds and Kevin Millar are terrible, but just the fact that Clubhouse Confidential was running was pretty awesome. Plus the draft and winter meetings coverage is pretty strong too.
   16. bjhanke Posted: October 07, 2012 at 03:32 AM (#4257580)
I thought Harold's discussion of the rule was pretty good, but it did miss one thing - the outfielder (Matt Holliday in this case). The point of the rule is not, as the other commentators insisted on saying, to "give" anything to the infielder. It's designed to give something to the baserunners - a clear option, instead of Hobson's Choice. Without the IFR, the runners on first and second don't know whether to stay or go. If no one catches the ball, and they didn't run, then they are at risk of being thrown out as forceouts. But if they do run and someone catches the ball, then they are likely to be doubled off before they can get back to where they started.

The thing is that the "person who catches or fields the ball" doesn't have to be an infielder. In the play in question, without the rule, the runners would have been in trouble if Kozma had fallen down on his first step. Holliday very likely could have caught the fly ball if he hadn't slowed down to make room for Kozma. If the runners had run, they'd have been doubled off, or even tripled off (I've forgotten whether there was already an out or not). And if the runners stayed home and there was no IFR, Matt only had to run about 6 feet to get to where the ball landed and start a 7-5-4 double play, getting both runners on forceouts and leaving only the batter at first base. That's why you call the IFR even when the ball is hit out that far, at least if it's hit that high as well. It may be called the Infield Fly Rule, but there are also outfielders to consider. Harold, being an infielder and being confronted with guys who didn't understand the rule in any detail, focused on Kozma. But Holliday was right there, too. - Brock Hanke
   17. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: October 07, 2012 at 04:49 AM (#4257583)
This is cool, major props to whoever dug up the clip of the other game.
   18. Walt Davis Posted: October 07, 2012 at 06:39 AM (#4257589)
That's why you call the IFR even when the ball is hit out that far, at least if it's hit that high as well. It may be called the Infield Fly Rule, but there are also outfielders to consider.

But does the IFR get called if Kozma isn't there? It may even be easier for Holliday to pull off a double play after intentionally dropping a ball since his momentum is heading that way. But I don't think I've ever seen an OF drop a medium-deep flyball but not have to throw to get the forceout.

As you say, who is fielding the ball shouldn't really matter. Maybe I'm wrong and the IFR gets called often on plays made by OFs (without an IF around).
   19. Dan The Mediocre Posted: October 07, 2012 at 08:02 AM (#4257594)
That was a really good segment. I think I have been persuaded that the call was correct.
   20. McCoy Posted: October 07, 2012 at 08:09 AM (#4257595)
I think the clip shows that what happened was what should be expected but I don't think it shows that the implementation of the rule in these kind of situations is correct.

For starters in both clips it would be virtually impossible to double off the runners on those hits and secondly due to all the variables that Harold explained the umpire has to wait and watch for the call gets made late so a runner still has to move off the bag and risk getting doubled off.
   21. Downtown Bookie Posted: October 07, 2012 at 09:25 AM (#4257606)
Great job by Reynolds and MLB Network. I'm still not convinced that it was the right call, but Reynold's analysis shows that it's a consistent call (much like, for example, a pitch at a certain height that is always called a ball, even though it is, in fact, in the strike zone; an incorrect call, but if all umpires call it the same way all the time, then it becomes a consistent call).

DB

EDIT: I believe McCoy says much the same thing in his post # 20 above.
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: October 07, 2012 at 09:38 AM (#4257610)
But does the IFR get called if Kozma isn't there? It may even be easier for Holliday to pull off a double play after intentionally dropping a ball since his momentum is heading that way. But I don't think I've ever seen an OF drop a medium-deep flyball but not have to throw to get the forceout.

As you say, who is fielding the ball shouldn't really matter. Maybe I'm wrong and the IFR gets called often on plays made by OFs (without an IF around).


By rule, the outfielder's position does not matter. He can catch the ball on and infield fly, but for the rule to be in place, one of the infielders must be able to catch it with ordinary effort.

Technically, it was the correct call. You can argue that the rule should be written differently, but it fit the criteria for the IF fly.
   23. Lassus Posted: October 07, 2012 at 10:19 AM (#4257621)
The REYNOLDS ON THE INFIELD FLY RULE headline is really keeping a lot of people from this thread. I wonder if someone could change it to MLB NETWORK ON THE INFIELD FLY RULE.

I'm dead serious.
   24. BDC Posted: October 07, 2012 at 10:25 AM (#4257622)
I agree, this is an excellent analysis and video. At first I figured the call was correct, but I critiqued how and when it was called on the field. But it now seems to me that even how and when it was called were quite reasonable. I think it's just a fiendishly difficult and rarely-invoked rule, and everyone gets confused and upset when it's invoked, especially (and naturally) when the ball drops untouched.
   25. bunyon Posted: October 07, 2012 at 10:30 AM (#4257627)
I'm still not sold - other examples of bad calls don't support a new example of a bad call.

But it is a good analysis and no Cards fan (CFB, I'm lookin at you) should feel they were given anything. The Braves booted the ball around and failed to hit all night long. If that were a single with bases loaded, one out, the Braves are in better, but not good, shape.

   26. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: October 07, 2012 at 10:30 AM (#4257628)
Yeah, this is a great video. Reynolds does a great job on this. And while I'm sure someone in the MLBN research division pulled up that (very convincing) tape from an earlier Cubs game showing the exact same fielder placement scenario, give credit for Harold for really knowing his blow-by-blow on that: he clearly is bringing his middle-infielder experience to that discussion. Like many others here have said, I am now sold that it was the right call to make...or at least not a blatantly wrong call.

Just one more reason why the MLB Network does a better job of baseball coverage than any other option.
   27. bunyon Posted: October 07, 2012 at 10:37 AM (#4257633)
And second to the kudos to MLBN. I don't watch ESPN at all now. Even the Sunday night game. I have a friend, not a baseball fan, who says MLBN is the greatest thing to happen to ESPN beccause now they don't have to trifle with all that baseball. Just football, basketball and NASCAR. I have no idea if this is true, but it doesn't make me want to go watch ESPN.
   28. John DiFool2 Posted: October 07, 2012 at 10:56 AM (#4257645)
The obvious question in my mind: how far out does a high fly have to go before there is no significant risk of a DP, either way?

I like the suggestion from another thread: if the ump calls IF fly, and the ball drops, the ball becomes dead and everyone moves up a base (ground rule single, of a sort). No ambiguity, no penalizing the offense for when the defense ##### up-seems win-win to me.
   29. PreservedFish Posted: October 07, 2012 at 11:08 AM (#4257647)
I agree with McCoy #20. I'm now mostly convinced that the call was good by the rulebook and by custom. I'm not convinced that they should continue to call it that way.
   30. Esteban Rivera Posted: October 07, 2012 at 11:12 AM (#4257648)
Yes, the video is a very good analysis. But the video is the second version of Harold explaining the IF rule. The first time he explained it, he was in studio 42? (the one that is the infield recreation) and he was with Billy Ripken and Omar Vizquel. After Harold's explanation, both Ripken and Vizquel were not in agreement with Harold that it was the correct call. Ripken's issue was that he felt that it was not ordinary effort at all. He even used the video to point out that Kozma had been in the wrong molar row (the cross cut grass lines) than where the ball landed. Omar thought that the only correct thing Kozma did was call for the ball, which is what triggered the umpire call the infield fly, but he didn't think Kozma had the play under control.

Still, it was great to see those three out there just breaking it down in that way.
   31. OsunaSakata Posted: October 07, 2012 at 01:28 PM (#4257833)
Baseball Tonight can be worth watching Sunday mornings when it's only Kurkjian, Olney and Stark.
   32. Dale H. Posted: October 07, 2012 at 01:44 PM (#4257850)
It's odd. This analysis only made me think it was a worse call than before. Reynolds' analysis that the ump was waiting for the ball to reach its apex is absurd, because he's saying that the ball somehow falls more quickly than it rises. The apex should be reached (roughly, because there is air friction) at the halfway point of the play, not a moment before the ball lands. Also, the "freeze frame" of when the SS stops shows that he still had several more steps to backpedal than I imagined when watching the play without this feature. I thought he was essentially under it (minus a couple of steps), and then abandoned that spot when he heard footsteps.

Maybe if we assume the kid SS is a crap defender (which some have said), then you can use the clause that lets the ump call the out on the actions of what a competent infielder would have done to allow the call. But still, it's entirely ridiculous that a play designed to prevent defensive trickery allows it because of the lateness of the call. We wuz robbed.
   33. DKDC Posted: October 07, 2012 at 01:52 PM (#4257857)
I used to have MLB network but it doesn't seem to be on the FIOS package I have.

I think the only way I can get it is to pay an extra $20 for the next highest package.

TV will be forced to go a la carte at some point, and it won't be soon enough for me.
   34. Esteban Rivera Posted: October 07, 2012 at 02:19 PM (#4257904)
Part of original Reynolds explanation with Ripken and Vizquel

I managed to find part of the video of the first time Harold explained it but this video cuts off just before Ripken and Vizquel offer their disagreements. I don't know, they should put up the first version so one can get the whole range of opinions offered by their analysts that night.

The one thing Harold's explanation does for me is that I now understand why the situation as such could be called an infield fly. However, I disagree that it should have been called given that I don't think it was ordinary effort (which was Ripken's, Vizquel's and even Schilling's argument on ESPN). In the end, it really comes down to whether you judge if the effort was ordinary or not.
   35. cardsfanboy Posted: October 07, 2012 at 02:34 PM (#4257942)
TV will be forced to go a la carte at some point, and it won't be soon enough for me.


At some point in time, TV will go through the internet. Right now the cable companies have too much power/control, but eventually they will have to go to just providing everything over the web. Channels like comedy central already provide most of their stuff over the web, it just makes too much sense not to include it over the web. It's more accurate tracking(ratings), better targetted advertising(including the option to force them to play) etc.

Cable/Satellite has been the one luxury that people have been dumping in these economic times and the providers haven't done anything to ease the financial costs for the consumers even though they are losing subscribers faster than they are picking them up.
   36. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 07, 2012 at 02:37 PM (#4257951)

The one thing Harold's explanation does for me is that I now understand why the situation as such could be called an infield fly. However, I disagree that it should have been called given that I don't think it was ordinary effort (which was Ripken's, Vizquel's and even Schilling's argument on ESPN).

One interesting thing is that the official scorer did not call it an error on Kozma. I guess fielders getting crossed up and miscommunicating typically isn't scored an error, but as "ordinary effort" is the standard for whether something is an error as well as whether the IFR is invoked, I would think the two should be consistent (even though I recognize that it's two different people making the determinations here).
   37. McCoy Posted: October 07, 2012 at 02:50 PM (#4258011)
Publicly traded cable, satellite and phone companies had a combined net loss of about 200,000 subscribers in the quarter, earnings reports showed, about 0.2% of the roughly 100 million pay-TV subscribers.

The second-quarter numbers won't conclusively settle the argument. The April-through-June quarter is traditionally a weak period for pay-TV operators, as college students disconnect their service, typically returning in the fall, companies say. Last year, and in 2010, the pay-TV industry made up for declines in the second and third quarters with gains in the first and fourth quarters. Both years posted net growth of about 200,000 subscribers.



   38. OsunaSakata Posted: October 07, 2012 at 02:58 PM (#4258040)
One interesting thing is that the official scorer did not call it an error on Kozma. I guess fielders getting crossed up and miscommunicating typically isn't scored an error, but as "ordinary effort" is the standard for whether something is an error as well as whether the IFR is invoked, I would think the two should be consistent (even though I recognize that it's two different people making the determinations here).


Errors are almost never charged if the ball is not touched before it hits the ground. And of course after infield fly was ruled, no one reached base and no one advanced so there was no reason to charge the error.
   39. cardsfanboy Posted: October 07, 2012 at 03:02 PM (#4258050)
One interesting thing is that the official scorer did not call it an error on Kozma. I guess fielders getting crossed up and miscommunicating typically isn't scored an error, but as "ordinary effort" is the standard for whether something is an error as well as whether the IFR is invoked, I would think the two should be consistent (even though I recognize that it's two different people making the determinations here).


That is why there has been some people clamoring for a "team error" to be applied to bad communication on easily played balls. It's never going to happen, but there is some people who want that.
   40. cardsfanboy Posted: October 07, 2012 at 03:05 PM (#4258052)
Publicly traded cable, satellite and phone companies had a combined net loss of about 200,000 subscribers in the quarter, earnings reports showed, about 0.2% of the roughly 100 million pay-TV subscribers.

The second-quarter numbers won't conclusively settle the argument. The April-through-June quarter is traditionally a weak period for pay-TV operators, as college students disconnect their service, typically returning in the fall, companies say. Last year, and in 2010, the pay-TV industry made up for declines in the second and third quarters with gains in the first and fourth quarters. Both years posted net growth of about 200,000 subscribers.


I guess a more accurate comment from me would have been their rate of growth(new subscribers) has stagnated. For an industry that used to trump it's new subscribers rate/growth constantly, that is a bad thing. Of course most of the cable companies are already invested in the real delivery medium(Dsl/cable/etc internet) and Satellite will always have a niche.
   41. McCoy Posted: October 07, 2012 at 03:22 PM (#4258082)
There isn't much growth left.
   42. SoSH U at work Posted: October 07, 2012 at 04:21 PM (#4258181)
no one reached base and no one advanced so there was no reason to charge the error.


There was advancement.

I can't believe people are challenging the ordinary effort aspect, including former big league ballplayers. He had already begun to back pedal for the ball. There was no evidence that he was unsure of where it was (certainly at the time Holbrook decided to make the call). He had to cover less ground from the spot where he began to bail on it then the place he ended up when the ball landed. If that isn't ordinary effort, then only balls hit directly at infielders should qualify.

I can see them saying it might require more than ordinary effort for us to catch it. But these are big league ballplayers who are generally well-schooled in the pop-up arts.

Interestingly, in the ninth inning IF fly in the Giants game last night, the home plate ump called it just as Holbrook did. When Hannigan was stumbling around looking for it, he made no signal. As soon as it appeared he had a bead on it, the arm went up.





   43. Esteban Rivera Posted: October 07, 2012 at 05:04 PM (#4258223)
I can see them saying it might require more than ordinary effort for us to catch it. But these are big league ballplayers who are generally well-schooled in the pop-up arts.


That's very true for most of us. I do recall that Billy Ripken's argument was based on ordinary effort being something that was dependent of the context. He mentioned something along the lines that weather, wind, even the crowd noise are things that can impact the play and can cause the degree of effort needed for similar plays to vary depending on that specific context (he cited a windy day in Wrigley being a case where he felt the effort needed could be more, or having 50,000 fans screaming their heads off in the late innings of a one game sudden death elimination). I do think there is some evidence Kozma was unsure of where the ball was, because he never reached the cross-cut grass row where the ball landed, he peeled of before ever getting there.

Still, I think at this point it's clear that an infield fly was correctly called in that situation, if you believe it was ordinary effort.
   44. SoSH U at work Posted: October 07, 2012 at 05:22 PM (#4258251)
I do think there is some evidence Kozma was unsure of where the ball was, because he never reached the cross-cut grass row where the ball landed, he peeled of before ever getting there.


Even if I granted that (and I'm not sure it's accurate, in part because TV angles on these things can be deceptive), there was no evidence available to Holbrook (or, for that matter, the baserunners and other fielders) that Kozma had some uncertainty about the play. He seemed to be backpedaling at a comfortable pace with his arm raised, which, when performed by an infielder on a pop up, is a pretty universal signal that he's "got it."
   45. Mike A Posted: October 07, 2012 at 06:25 PM (#4258407)
Holbrook raises his arm after Kozma start to bail out, though. Once Kozma raises both his arms, he looks lost. Then he breaks forward away from the ball.

And then the ump's arm goes up. Granted, this is all split-second timing, but it looks to me like Holbrook raises his arm after Kozma gets into a pickle.
   46. Monty Posted: October 07, 2012 at 07:11 PM (#4258514)
Based on the MLBN clip, I now believe that what the umpire did was:

1) Follow the path of the ball until it's at the apex
2) Check the fielders and verify that the SS is standing roughly where the ball's going to land, and is calling for the ball
3) Raise his arm

I agree that very shortly after #2, Kozma freaks out and backs away from the place he was standing. But by that point, the umpire has already decided to raise his arm and might be glancing at the other umpires or back up at the ball. But there was certainly a moment where the umpire could have glanced at Kozma and saw a guy who looked like he was going to catch the ball with ordinary effort, just like in the other game the clip showed.
   47. bjhanke Posted: October 07, 2012 at 10:06 PM (#4258688)
Monty here is absolutely correct, and so is Walt above. I forgot to include that in my adding of the outfielder to the mix. The rule says, essentially, that the umpire should call the ball if, but only when, the infielder signals that he has it tracked down (which also tells the other fielders to stay away), if the umpire believes that the infielder's signal is reasonable - meaning that the umpire thinks the infielder does have the play made with ordinary effort FROM THE POINT AT WHICH HE MAKES THE SIGNAL. That's the actual key I forgot - the umpire makes his decision before the infielder makes the play, but right after the infielder makes the signal. The ball should, at that point, be within ordinary effort reach. The ball was certainly within Kozma's reach at the time he made the signal. That all, including the umpire's call, did happen right before Kozma peeled off, and the umpire did call the IFR before Kozma peeled off. Now that I think about it, that may be the reason that Holliday pulled up short to let Kozma have the play, If Kozma took it, it was the IFR. If Holliday calls him off, then the IFR is not in effect (Holliday did make the point in an interview after the game that he had NOT called Kozma off the play, and now I know why). What I was too focused on is the reason behind the play - to not stick baserunners with Hobson's Choice when they are forced runners if the ball hits the ground. And, in the play in question, I do think (meaning that this is how I remember it, and I have no replay source right at hand) the runners on first and second did advance. You can advance, I believe, "at your own risk." But Walt above is right. The outfielder does not have quite as much to do with the decision as I made it seem like. He's not mentioned in the IFR at all. - Brock
   48. OsunaSakata Posted: October 07, 2012 at 10:10 PM (#4258690)
There was advancement.


I stand corrected. The rule isn't clear to me on advancement of the runners. I would think the runners have to tag up from the moment the ball hits the ground, but I don't remember Uggla and Ross tagging up.
   49. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 07, 2012 at 10:16 PM (#4258695)

The runners don't have to tag up on the IFR unless the ball is caught. The IFR rule simply eliminates the force by declaring the batter out.
   50. SoSH U at work Posted: October 07, 2012 at 10:43 PM (#4258731)
If Holliday calls him off, then the IFR is not in effect (Holliday did make the point in an interview after the game that he had NOT called Kozma off the play, and now I know why).


No, that's not correct. The outfielder can make the play on the infield fly. The umpire is only looking to judge whether an infielder can make a play with a reasonable effort. He doesn't have to be the one who makes the play. If an umpire sees an infielder backing up and in position to make a play he will call the infield fly. If the outfielder calls him off, it doesn't change things.

   51. Walt Davis Posted: October 07, 2012 at 11:26 PM (#4258783)
Now, Brett Lawrie in his WAR-defying shift -- IF or OF?

Andruw Jones in his heyday playing about 75 feet behind 2B -- IF or OF?

My point, such as it was, wasn't about the call but about the spirit of the rule (and possibly a need to change it). A ball hit to that spot and the runners are potentially screwed whether an ordinarily effective IF is there or not. Maybe Andruw played deeper with men on base and this never happened but he certainly made a ton of can-of-corn catches in short CF that could have resulted in DPs in the right situation. You see this with pitchers or other quite weak hitters (not so much now but back in the day OFs weren't particularly deep on your SS with 0-1 HR a year). The point of the rule, as Brock notes (and I assumed everybody knew), is to keep from screwing over the runners. But if a pop-up that far out creates that dilemma for the runners why should it matter than it's the OF who calls for it or the IF got a bad break or whatever? (Note, I'm assuming "ordinary effort" on the part of the OF as well. If it takes beyond ordinary effort for the OF to get there, then he's irrelevant to the situation.)

I guess this is one place in the rules where "infielder" is referred to. Hence it should be defined somewhere. Anybody know the definition? I assume we are going to see more and more "unusual" positioning of players and it might not always be clear who's an IF and who's an OF (Lawrie possibly being the best example of this).
   52. Random Transaction Generator Posted: October 07, 2012 at 11:36 PM (#4258789)
And then the ump's arm goes up. Granted, this is all split-second timing, but it looks to me like Holbrook raises his arm after Kozma gets into a pickle.


This is like the NHL ruling about when the ref blows the whistle to stop a play (because he's lost sight of the puck) and then the puck goes in the net.
The rule is not when the whistle is heard, but when the ref decides to blow the whistle.

Holbrook made the decision to call IFR just as Kozma made the decision to bail. That split second to start raising his arm is what we see.
What Holbrook can't do is START to raise his arm and then bring it down again.
That mixed signal would cause even MORE craziness.
   53. Mike A Posted: October 07, 2012 at 11:40 PM (#4258795)
I can kinda see that, though I've watched it roughly 4,281 times and it still looks off to me. Felt like a delayed strike call, I guess. Maybe Holbrook didn't realize Kozma got in trouble/bailed almost immediately after getting 'under' it.

I'm also not convinced Kozma ever had a real good bead on it. Holbrook might have been, in a way, deked.

Well, I have the next five months to get over it. I'm thinking by month 3 or 4 I should be good.
   54. bobm Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:17 AM (#4258868)
[51] Now, Brett Lawrie in his WAR-defying shift -- IF or OF?

Andruw Jones in his heyday playing about 75 feet behind 2B -- IF or OF? ...

I guess this is one place in the rules where "infielder" is referred to. Hence it should be defined somewhere. Anybody know the definition? I assume we are going to see more and more "unusual" positioning of players and it might not always be clear who's an IF and who's an OF (Lawrie possibly being the best example of this).



From http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/y2012/Official_Baseball_Rules.pdf


1.04 THE PLAYING FIELD. The field shall be laid out according to the instructions below, supplemented by Diagrams No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 on adjoining pages. The infield shall be a 90-foot square. The outfield shall be the area between two foul lines formed by extending two sides of the square, as in Diagram 1 ...

Rule 2.00 ...

An INFIELDER is a fielder who occupies a position in the infield.

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. ...

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.
   55. DA Baracus Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:26 AM (#4258874)
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. ...


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.


So an outfielder doesn't count except when he does.
   56. bjhanke Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:48 AM (#4258893)
SOSH, bobm, and DA - Thanks. When I put up my first post on this thread, I thought I knew this rule in detail, since I had researched it several years ago. But it appears to be just a wee tad more complex than I had thought out way back when. Since I am fascinated by the IFR, I appreciate the extra info. Looking at what has been corrected, I probably misinterpreted the clause about outfielders that DA cites right above here. Essentially, the issue, as I now see it, is that, to paraphrase DA, the outfielder doesn't count unless an infielder could have made the play instead. If an infielder could have made the play, then the IFR applies no matter who actually does end up making the play. Is that right? It makes sense. In the play at hand, if the IFR never applies if an outfielder actually ends up making the play, then Kozma could have just left the ball to Holliday, who could have put the runners in the Hobson's Choice position. But, since Kozma could have made the play himself, letting Holliday do the actual work doesn't hurt the baserunners. That makes really good sense, given the reason the IFR exists in the first place. Man, I was SURE I knew the IFR inside and out. Also, I just realized, if bobm's definition of the infield (#54, citing rule 1.04) is correct, then modern infielders do not, in general, actually line up in the infield. They almost always line up outside of the "90 foot square" defined by home plate and the three bases. On that basis, the Braves would have had a point, since Kozma would not have counted as an infielder, given that he set up in the modern shortstop spot, which is well outside the square. Is that true? If so, either the IFR needs a changing or the definition of the infield in 1.04 needs one. - Brock
   57. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:57 AM (#4258901)
I'm also not convinced Kozma ever had a real good bead on it. Holbrook might have been, in a way, deked.

If the ump is supposed to make the judgment of the IFR in large part based on the infielder's actions, what's to stop an infielder who loses track of the ball on a ball like this in an IFR situation from baiting the ump into calling the batter out?
   58. SoSH U at work Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:59 AM (#4258902)
If an infielder could have made the play, then the IFR applies no matter who actually does end up making the play. Is that right? It makes sense. In the play at hand, if the IFR never applies if an outfielder actually ends up making the play, then Kozma could have just left the ball to Holliday, who could have put the runners in the Hobson's Choice position. But, since Kozma could have made the play himself, letting Holliday do the actual work doesn't hurt the baserunners.


Yes, that's it.

Honestly, I see two ways to fix the IF fly, if you desire. Put in a clause that allows the umpire to determine whether a double play is a reasonable outcome if the ball is allowed to drop to the outfield turf untouched.

Or, my personal preference, do away with the rule altogether. It really serves no purpose that the other rules of the game don't already cover.

But as the rule is written now, I think that Holbrook not only made the correct call Friday night, but he handled it just about perfectly. He made the right call at the right time. His bad luck was in Kozma running the other way in the fraction of a second after he had determined that the IF fly was in effect, but before his arm shot into the air.

   59. SoSH U at work Posted: October 08, 2012 at 01:03 AM (#4258905)

If the ump is supposed to make the judgment of the IFR in large part based on the infielder's actions, what's to stop an infielder who loses track of the ball on a ball like this in an IFR situation from baiting the ump into calling the batter out?


Well, the fact that a) it may not work on the umpire, and thus you've got a ball rolling around in the outfield while all runners are running merrily around the bases, and b) it may bait his outfielder into giving up on a ball he might be able to catch.

I suspect the downside balances out the upside, if it doesn't actually exceed it.
   60. DA Baracus Posted: October 08, 2012 at 01:03 AM (#4258906)
If an infielder could have made the play, then the IFR applies no matter who actually does end up making the play. Is that right? It makes sense.


It makes total sense and I have no problem with an outfielder catching a ball that an infielder could otherwise easily catch and that being INF. If an outfielder can get to the ball, he shouldn't be penalized for it. My problem is that earlier in the rule it defines infielders as anyone who "stations himself in the infield on the play." Does that mean at any time during the play? If so then that line is useless and confusing because nobody would need to be considered an infielder for the purpose of the rule. Do they mean during that pitch? If so then if a normally positioned outfielder makes the catch it's not IFR, because he wasn't considered an infielder.

Or am I missing something?
   61. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 08, 2012 at 01:09 AM (#4258909)
Well, the fact that a) it may not work on the umpire, and thus you've got a ball rolling around in the outfield while all runners are running merrily around the bases, and b) it may bait his outfielder into giving up on a ball he might be able to catch.

Both true. But it's not that hard to envision a scenario in which the downsides aren't really there - if the infielder has lost track of the ball anyway, it's going to be rolling around whether he fakes camping under it or not, and the outfielder could have no shot at making the catch but be close enough that he'd pick it up after it lands before the infielder would.

Anyway, I think this situation is making me come around to the get-rid-of-the-IFR position.
   62. SoSH U at work Posted: October 08, 2012 at 01:10 AM (#4258910)
My problem is that earlier in the rule it defines infielders as anyone who "stations himself in the infield on the play." Does that mean at any time during the play? If so then that line is useless and confusing because nobody would need to be considered an infielder for the purpose of the rule. Do they mean during that pitch? If so then if a normally positioned outfielder makes the catch it's not IFR, because he wasn't considered an infielder.


In the first scenario, it's referring to an outfielder who is stationed in the infield before the pitch is thrown. Say, you put a man right up the middle in a one-out, bases loaded situation in the bottom of the ninth). In that situation, the shifted player is considered an infielder for the purpose of determining what players will dictate whether a pop-up can be considered an IF fly.

In the latter mention, it's referring to outfielders who are positioned as outfielders before the pitch is thrown.

   63. SoSH U at work Posted: October 08, 2012 at 01:13 AM (#4258912)
Anyway, I think this situation is making me come around to the get-rid-of-the-IFR position.


Woohoo. The bandwagon, she's getting crowded (I believe it's up to four now).
   64. DA Baracus Posted: October 08, 2012 at 01:33 AM (#4258920)
In the first scenario, it's referring to an outfielder who is stationed in the infield before the pitch is thrown. Say, you put a man right up the middle in a one-out, bases loaded situation in the bottom of the ninth). In that situation, the shifted player is considered an infielder for the purpose of determining what players will dictate whether a pop-up can be considered an IF fly.

In the latter mention, it's referring to outfielders who are positioned as outfielders before the pitch is thrown.


Yeah, I get that, I get the rule. That's not the problem.

The problem is the rule is poorly worded and poorly worded rules lead to confusion. Pointing out that "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" appears to be needless, because there is no unusual distinction to be made for the INF as to who is and is not considered an infielder. It already says "An INFIELDER is a fielder who occupies a position in the infield."
   65. PreservedFish Posted: October 08, 2012 at 02:04 AM (#4258925)
Suppose there were no Infield Fly Rule. High high popup in the middle of the infield, easy play, and easy to let it drop and make the throw to third. How long is the standard lead that the baserunners ought to take?
   66. bjhanke Posted: October 08, 2012 at 02:29 AM (#4258930)
I, personally, don't want to see the IFR go away. I've seen tricky infielders and outfielders; you give them the Hobson's Choice option on the baserunners, and you're going to see a lot of double plays. In answer to a question above, I'd say that 20 feet from your original bag is about as far as you can take your lead, if there's no IFR. You've got to get back there if someone catches the ball, and you've got to get back before they can throw to that bag. Throws go a lot faster than baserunners do. Dal Maxvill and Curt Flood, just to name one inf/of combo who were certainly capable of pulling off a tricky play, could have had their way with baserunners in the absence of the IFR. With runners limited to a 20 foot lead because the ball might be caught, letting it drop is almost certainly going to result in a 754, or in the case of Flood, 854 DP. I can also think of several managers who would spot that rules hole in a minute, and save it for when they really needed it, like Billy Martin did with George Brett's pine tar on the bat. Remember that one? Well, take a look at the first DET/OAK game. Somewhere about the first or second inning, the announcers were talking about the IFR play the previous day, and noticed that there were two consecutive IFR's in just the one inning at hand in their game; one with nobody out and then the next batter, too, with one out. In both cases, a 20-foot lead would have been adventurous. Those are easy DPs without the IFR. King Kelly may be dead, but his spirit lives on.

If I understand bobm's clip from clause 1.04 correctly, though, then there is a good reason to change the definition of an infielder, because no one nowadays sets up in that square, unless they're expecting a bunt or holding a runner on. Of course, that definition would have to deal, somehow, with The Shift. Thinking about Kelly, that may be why his RF defensive stats are so unique. If, when nominally playing RF, he was actually moving in to play where we now put second basemen, he would still be an outfielder according to 1.04, which would explain why no one questioned what position he was playing when he piled up all those weird numbers. - Brock
   67. SoSH U at work Posted: October 08, 2012 at 03:03 AM (#4258934)
I, personally, don't want to see the IFR go away. I've seen tricky infielders and outfielders; you give them the Hobson's Choice option on the baserunners, and you're going to see a lot of double plays.


No, you shouldn't.

As we all seem to agree, the purpose of the infield fly rule is to prevent the defense from "gaming the system," getting a cheap double play where folks believe they shouldn't be able to.* But baseball, being the greatest of all sports, already has a rule in place that will prevent such an occurence.

Take PF's scenario above, a batter lifts a high pop fly right in the infield, perhaps just a few feet from second base. Tailor-made double play if the fielder simply lets it hit the ground and then fields it**, correct? Nope. Because if the batter runs down the line, all he needs to do is pass the runner on first. When that happens, the play is dead and the batter is immediately ruled out, and the runners frozen in place (almost the same result as the IF fly, other than the opportunity to advance, which doesn't happen in 99.5 percent of the current IF fly situations).

So, by getting rid of the infield fly rule, you will require the a) batter who has just hit a worthless pop-up to hustle, which is a good thing to everyone but Ray, and b) the defense to record an out, rather than have one gifted to them. That's an improvement on two fronts, as far as I'm concerned.

Moreover, getting rid of the IF fly creates more options for both sides. If the batter's not running (or on an in-between play like Thursday's), does the defense let it drop and take a shot at a DP (perhaps some kind of fancy deke maneuver, aimed not at the umps but the opponents)? Does the offense take the routine out or take a shot at something better? Would teams, in a bases loaded, no-out situation, trade one run for two outs (a question for both the defense or the offense)? All these are at least on the table.

Getting rid of the IF fly should not add any cheap double plays to the mix, if the offense is alert. It should add a little more strategy, while also requiring the defense to perform its basic function, put a batter out, rather than have the umpire declare one unilaterally. But it would also make plays like Thursday's far more interesting and satisfying (on the field, at least).

In all likelihood, we wouldn't see much of a difference. Most IF flies now are simply caught, which is probably what would happen if you take the rule away. All it would do is rid the game of a rule that runs counter to the way the sport is otherwise played and that the game's other rules already make unnecessary.

* Whether a guy hitting a pop-up in a duck's on the pond situation should be precluded from creating two outs is a matter of opinion.

** Existing baseball rules already prevent a player from intentionally dropping a ball that has hit his glove, so this would only apply to balls that hit the turf first (which are much less predictable).

   68. Walt Davis Posted: October 08, 2012 at 03:44 AM (#4258936)
The infield shall be a 90-foot square. The outfield shall be the area between two foul lines formed by extending two sides of the square, as in Diagram 1 ...

Rule 2.00 ...

An INFIELDER is a fielder who occupies a position in the infield.


Well, there's a problem. Other than the pitcher and the occasions when a 1B or 3B is playing in for a bunt or general infield-in situations, I have never seen an infielder position himself within the 90-foot square. (by rule, the C is outside the 90-foot square :-) And most certainly Brett Lawrie in the shift ain't anywhere near that 90-foot square. This is my point -- a "second-baseman" 20-30 feet beyond the grass in RF is not "occupying a position in the infield", he's occupying a position in short RF. Or if such a 2B is occupying a position in the infield when he's standing there, then so is a RF when he's standing near there (for a pitcher say).

Since IF not being in the IF has been true for a very, very long time, presumably "infield" in its second-usage is not "infield" in its technical meaning in Diagram 1 ... although for the life of me I'm not sure what the purpose that technical definition of infield serves. "Infield" in its second usage is presumably of the "oh c'mon, you know what I mean" variety ... and that's worked darn well for as long as the IFR has been around so I'm not suggesting this is a major issue.

Anyway, if you want/need a rule about easily-fielded pop-ups and fly balls that could be turned into "unfair" double plays then make a rule about easily-fielded pop-ups and fly balls that could be turned into "unfair" double plays no matter who is available to do the easy fielding. The "unfairness" to the runners on that play is not due to Kozma's presence, the "unfairness" to the runners is created by the presence of any Cardinal (displaying ordinary effort of course!).

OK, the simple solution is to make a rule against the Cardinals playing defense at all -- I'm OK with that.
   69. bjhanke Posted: October 08, 2012 at 04:48 AM (#4258938)
SOSH - The "batter passes the first-base runner on purpose" idea is truly slick. I love it, and you're right. Unless the batter is even slower than a Molina, or the popup is very low and gets to the fielder really fast, it's going to work. I bow to your knowledge of how to deal with the IFR, and I'm remembering that, if anyone asks me to be an umpire in any game you're playing in or coaching in or managing in, YOU are TROUBLE.

And Walt also has a point. I tried, for several minutes, to figure out a rigorous rule defining an "infielder", but I couldn't. There is no restriction, other than being in fair territory, as to where ANY position player, other than the pitcher and catcher, can position themselves. So you can't go by that, and if you define the "infield" in any hard, rigorous geographical way, sometime, some team is just going to do a version of the shift that makes an outfielder of their second baseman or some such. Now, as to getting MLB to leave a definition like that up to the discretion of the umpires, well, that may be a hard sell. Since managers would complain loudly if the umpire did not inform them as to which of their players were playing which position, the umpires would have to tell the fielding team who qualifies as what on each play. I got my doubts. As it is, no one questions who constitutes an "infielder" for purposes of the IFR, so we're probably OK, unless Billy Martin returns to managing.

Oh, HEY! I know what to do: Let's leave the rules definition of an "infielder" up to the commissioner's own braintrust assistant, and professional baseball lawyer, Tony LaRussa. This one ought to give even him a headache.

But now, for the REAL question: If the Cardinals were not allowed to play any defense, and had to record all outs by way of strikeouts, could the Cubs beat them?

Oh, I am going to PAY for that last one. I've read Walt in "no mercy" mode. - Brock
   70. boteman Posted: October 08, 2012 at 06:18 AM (#4258940)
The MLB rules are a camel that has been built over a long time, so there are confusing and internally inconsistent passages therein. I really don't think the definition of "infielder" is a key question, particularly since it is obviated later in the comment section of the rule. In any case, I don't expect the wording of this rule to be changed.

I am warming up to the idea of deleting the Infield Fly rule altogether based on the discussion here. Carry on.
   71. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: October 08, 2012 at 08:57 AM (#4258958)
Some folks working at the Major League Baseball Network's studios went to a lot of trouble to edit together a video that papers over a terrible call by Major League Baseball's umpires which resulted in making Major League Baseball's new wildcard play-in game more of a mockery than it was and embarrassed Major League Baseball with its own ineptitude?

Shocking.
   72. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 08, 2012 at 11:33 AM (#4259065)
.
   73. PreservedFish Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:01 PM (#4259101)
Take PF's scenario above, a batter lifts a high pop fly right in the infield, perhaps just a few feet from second base. Tailor-made double play if the fielder simply lets it hit the ground and then fields it**, correct? Nope. Because if the batter runs down the line, all he needs to do is pass the runner on first. When that happens, the play is dead and the batter is immediately ruled out, and the runners frozen in place


Oh, I hate this solution. The offense deals with this by intentionally screwing up, to trigger a weird technical rule?

But I think I can get behind the no infield fly rule. I don't think that many DPs would really happen. It would turn an infield fly into a really exciting play, actually. In the scenario above, the guy on second couldn't take any lead at all, but the guy on first has to take a very aggressive one, as far off the base as he can get while preserving the ability to return if the catch is made. The 2B gets the choice of making the catch, of throwing to third and preserving the force at second, or of stepping on second and risking a rundown with the guy going to third. It will reward intelligent infield play. And balls hit to different areas have totally different scenarios.

> edited somewhat
   74. Misirlou has S.C.M.O.D.S Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:05 PM (#4259107)
Oh, I hate this solution. The offense deals with this by intentionally screwing up, to trigger a weird technical rule?

But I think I can get behind the no infield fly rule. I don't think that many DPs would really happen. It would turn an infield fly into a really exciting play, actually. In the scenario above, the guy on second couldn't take any lead at all, but the guy on first has to take a very aggressive one, as far off the base as he can get while preserving the ability to return if the catch is made. The 2B gets the choice of making the catch, of throwing to third and preserving the force at second, or of stepping on second and risking a rundown with the guy going to third. Every area of the infield has different and new scenarios for these plays.


But don't you see? What SOSH is suggesting is that none of that would happen because the offense won't take the risk and will just opt for the pass the runner option.
   75. PreservedFish Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:07 PM (#4259111)
Yeah, I know, I was hoping that teams consider that to be unsporting or something. Or the league puts the kibosh on it.
   76. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:12 PM (#4259120)
Holbrook raises his arm after Kozma start to bail out, though. Once Kozma raises both his arms, he looks lost. Then he breaks forward away from the ball.

And then the ump's arm goes up. Granted, this is all split-second timing, but it looks to me like Holbrook raises his arm after Kozma gets into a pickle.


But that's only because there is a lag time between Holbrook making his decision with his brain to call the infield fly and then his brain relaying that signal to his arm.
   77. Misirlou has S.C.M.O.D.S Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:13 PM (#4259121)
Yeah, I know, I was hoping that teams consider that to be unsporting or something.


As unsporting as intentionally dropping an easy popup in order to game the system?

And how would the league put the kibosh on it? Making it legal for baserunners to pass each other?
   78. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:13 PM (#4259122)
Anyway, I think this situation is making me come around to the get-rid-of-the-IFR position.

Woohoo. The bandwagon, she's getting crowded (I believe it's up to four now).


Five. It's long been my position to do away with the IFR.
   79. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:15 PM (#4259126)
Andruw Jones in his heyday playing about 75 feet behind 2B -- IF or OF? ...


Hmm. This gets me to think more about radical defensive alignments. IE maybe it makes sense for outfielders to play ultra shallow if there are far more line drive singles than there are drives to the warning track.
   80. PreservedFish Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:20 PM (#4259131)
As unsporting as intentionally dropping an easy popup in order to game the system?


I think that if it were within the rules it would soon become good baseball, and not unsporting.

And how would the league put the kibosh on it? Making it legal for baserunners to pass each other?


No idea. That's why I was vague about it!
   81. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:23 PM (#4259139)
Andruw Jones in his heyday playing about 75 feet behind 2B -- IF or OF? ...


Hmm. This gets me to think more about radical defensive alignments. IE maybe it makes sense for outfielders to play ultra shallow if there are far more line drive singles than there are drives to the warning track.


This is why Andruw in his prime was a historically great defender. Because he could play this way. The easy play in the OF is coming in a ball. The hard play is going back on a ball. The hardest play in all of the OF is going back on a ball hit over your head in CF. If you can play in, taking way singles, but still 1) cover the ground and 2) make the play going back on balls over your head, you're in the top 1% of OF defenders of all time.
   82. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:24 PM (#4259142)
As unsporting as intentionally dropping an easy popup in order to game the system?


Why is this gaming the system, any more than decoying a runner would be in general? And why should we care? Why is intentionally dropping an infield fly any less "noble" than getting a traditional 6-4-3 double play?

(And I have a feeling that intentionally dropping the fly will lead to a better outcome for the offense a not-insignificant amount of the time, i.e., if the ball kicks away, or if one of the throws gets away, etc. It's not like this will be executed by the defense 99% of the time.)
   83. Misirlou has S.C.M.O.D.S Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:31 PM (#4259148)
(And I have a feeling that intentionally dropping the fly will lead to a better outcome for the offense a not-insignificant amount of the time, i.e., if the ball kicks away, or if one of the throws gets away, etc. It's not like this will be executed by the defense 99% of the time.)


Again, this is only true in the absence of the pass the runner option. As long as that rule exists, then the offense will likely take it every possible time, and all you've done by eliminating the rule is taken an elegant solution and replaced it with an awkward one.

If the pass the runner rule can be amended so that the offense doesn't have the option ( and the amendment doesn't lead to any unintended consequences affecting play in other ways), then I could get behind eliminating the IFR.
   84. PreservedFish Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:38 PM (#4259154)
And why should we care? Why is intentionally dropping an infield fly any less "noble" than getting a traditional 6-4-3 double play?


I think it's pretty clear that just about any smart play that's within the rules will be considered sporting. Infielders deke runners all the time, runners make vicious aggressive slides, etc. Most of baseball's "unwritten rules" have to do with showing respect - not stealing with a huge lead, not bunting with a no-hitter in progress, not stepping on Dallas Braden's mound, etc.
   85. Misirlou has S.C.M.O.D.S Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:51 PM (#4259168)
(And I have a feeling that intentionally dropping the fly will lead to a better outcome for the offense a not-insignificant amount of the time, i.e., if the ball kicks away, or if one of the throws gets away, etc. It's not like this will be executed by the defense 99% of the time.)


They don't have to be successful nearly that often for it to be a positive. In a 1st and 2nd no out situation, they have to be successful only 67% of the time to break even. First and second 1 out, you need to be successful 71%. I think major league fielders would be successful much more than 71% of the time, especially when they can choose when to intentionally drop and when not to.

edit: Actually, my numbers above aren't quite accurate. I assumed success to be turning 2, and failure to be getting nobody out. But there is a third, and very likely outcome, getting one guy out. Thus, the break even success rate (success defined as turning 2), is actually much lower.

   86. Morty Causa Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:56 PM (#4259173)
George Carlin had a routine in the '70s (which I can't find) about holding X hostage until the infield fly rule is revoked. Anybody familiar with that?
   87. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 08, 2012 at 01:06 PM (#4259187)
The pass the runner penalty is stupider than the infield fly rule. If we're fixing stupid rules, start with that one. If the batter passes a runner, both should be out, and there should be no stoppage of play.

Why is intentionally dropping an infield fly any less "noble" than getting a traditional 6-4-3 double play?


One requires skill, the other doesn't. Or so they thought in the 19th century.

It bears repeating, but if 19th-century players, with tiny gloves, dirty scuffed baseballs, no artificial lighting, and runners who would not hesitate to come at the fielder with sharpened spikes, could pull this off routinely, modern players can.
   88. PreservedFish Posted: October 08, 2012 at 01:07 PM (#4259189)
They don't have to be successful nearly that often for it to be a positive.


I'm fine with that. I like rewarding smart and exciting defensive play. And I don't mind if it tamps down run scoring in general. But the point wasn't that letting the ball drop won't really be that valuable - just that, every once in a while, it'll result in errors and a big positive for the offense.

What might happen is that the drop and throw to third (or home) to get the lead runner would become quite routine, but the return throw to complete the DP would be rarer. That would be somewhat boring. But even so, I still agree with SOSH U's other non-practical arguments in favor of abolishing the rule.
   89. BDC Posted: October 08, 2012 at 01:27 PM (#4259203)
I don't mind if it tamps down run scoring in general

How often are IFs called? I've seen them now and then, but compared to dropped third strikes or appeal plays or other quirks of the rules, they don't seem very common to me.
   90. bigglou115 Posted: October 08, 2012 at 01:43 PM (#4259218)
My problem with the call was more the timing than whether or not it was a proper application of the rule. Whether he called it before Kozma broke in or not is irrelevant, the rule is designed to protect the runners. After a certain point that becomes mute and you might as well not call it. That's exactly what happened here. By the time the IFB was called it was already entirely irrelevant. The runners had already frozen and the ball was so close to the ground that "advance at your own risk" was meaningless. My other, more minor, argument here is that this was too far out. If Constana, Bourn, or Heyward had been on 2nd there and the call is correctly made early they might have considered rounding 3rd. If the IFB rule allows that then the rule should be more limited in range.
   91. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: October 08, 2012 at 02:19 PM (#4259246)
How often are IFs called?


Quite often. I think you don't notice because it rarely comes into play since most pop ups are caught.
   92. Misirlou has S.C.M.O.D.S Posted: October 08, 2012 at 02:27 PM (#4259253)
Question for those who want to do away with the IFR: Are you also in favor of instituting the drop third strike rule with a runner on first and less than 2 out?
   93. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 08, 2012 at 03:12 PM (#4259282)
Question for those who want to do away with the IFR: Are you also in favor of instituting the drop third strike rule with a runner on first and less than 2 out?

I'd be OK with giving the runner(s) the option of trying to advance on a dropped third strike, thereby opening first base for the batter if they think it's worth the risk. I wouldn't want to make it a force situation.
   94. jmurph Posted: October 08, 2012 at 03:42 PM (#4259315)
The dropped third-strike rule is pretty dumb, right? It's one of the rules I have difficulty explaining when watching a game with non-fans, primarily because it doesn't make any sense.
   95. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: October 08, 2012 at 03:54 PM (#4259331)
The dropped third-strike rule is pretty dumb, right? It's one of the rules I have difficulty explaining when watching a game with non-fans, primarily because it doesn't make any sense.


I've always liked it because I think it DOES make sense. In simple terms the team has to complete the play. Just as a groundout isn't recorded until the shortstop throws to first base neither is the strikeout recorded until the catcher catches it.
   96. Misirlou has S.C.M.O.D.S Posted: October 08, 2012 at 03:56 PM (#4259332)
The dropped third-strike rule is pretty dumb, right? It's one of the rules I have difficulty explaining when watching a game with non-fans, primarily because it doesn't make any sense.


Well, the reason for it is, absent batter/runner/fan interference, the defense must always make a clean catch in order to put a batter or runner out, unless it's a situation in which the defense can find itself in a position to record multiple outs by not making a clean catch, thus the IFR and the DTS in certain situations. Thus, a strikeout is not a putout until the catcher makes a clean catch of the pitch, or the batter is put out by a clean tag or force at first, unless there is an opportunity for multiple forceouts.

I agree that it is easier to get multiple outs one one play with a dropped third strike always in play than with no IFR, but the principle is the same. Make the defense make the play
   97. jmurph Posted: October 08, 2012 at 04:03 PM (#4259343)
Hmmm. I like the simplicity of that argument, I see where you're coming from. On the other hand, the first baseman needs to catch the ball on the 6-3 groundout in order to tag 1st base and make the force out. The catcher is doing no such tagging. Is it like a fly out, logically speaking? Ball to bat to glove? It still feels like a different play to me.
   98. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: October 08, 2012 at 04:15 PM (#4259352)
Is it like a fly out, logically speaking? Ball to bat to glove? It still feels like a different play to me.


I've never really thought of it to that level of detail but I think that seems like a reasonable way to think of it.
   99. Misirlou has S.C.M.O.D.S Posted: October 08, 2012 at 04:25 PM (#4259368)
Just thought of another play where the defense can record an out without making a play: foul bunt with 2 strikes. There may be others, so the "defense must make a clean play in order to record an out" rule has a lot of exceptions. All of them justifiable IMO, but maybe enough that the DTS rule is on shakier ground than I first thought.
   100. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 08, 2012 at 04:40 PM (#4259385)
The bunt with two strikes rule is considerably newer than the third strike rule, though, and instituted in order to counter a specific tactic.
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