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Would baseball be more exciting without the infield fly rule?


Frobby

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I got to thinking about this in the wake of Sucre’s dropped ball that turned into a double play.    That almost never happens, and so plays where the infield fly rule is in effect are pretty boring.    

On the other hand, it might be kind of exciting if the rule was abolished and infielders had the option of dropping the ball and going for the double play.     Probably they’d get the DP a decent percentage of the time, and maybe that’s reason enough not to change the rule, since it would result in less offense.    But it would be pretty interesting to see how runners would have to adjust their games.   They’d certainly have to be on their toes, and speed would be at a premium.  

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4 hours ago, Frobby said:

....On the other hand, it might be kind of exciting if the rule was abolished and infielders had the option of dropping the ball and going for the double play....

Credit the imaginative play of the 1894 Orioles for prompting the league to adopt the Infield Fly Rule.
D. WALLOP, BASEBALL: AN INFORMAL HISTORY 88 (1969)
"Although independent investigation of primary sources has led to the belief that the rule first developed in 1894 and 1895, notes 25-35 infra & accompanying text, a certain sense of justice would be satisfied if the rule developed as a result of play during the1894 season. For that season was the first of the championship seasons of the Baltimore Orioles, the team that developed what is now known as "inside baseball," including such plays as the Baltimore chop and the hit-and-run. The Orioles not only played smart baseball; they played dirty baseball. "Although they may not have originated dirty baseball they perfected it to a high degree. In a National League filled with dirty players they were undoubtedly the dirtiest of their time and may have been the dirtiest the game has ever known."
===============================================================
Here's the rule from the Official Rules of Baseball:
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.

(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 5.09(a)(12). The infield fly rule takes precedence. If interference is called during an Infield Fly, the ball remains alive until it is determined whether the ball is fair or foul. If fair, both the runner who interfered with the fielder and the batter are out. If foul, even if caught, the runner is out and the batter returns to bat.
===================================================================

The consequence of the rule's abolition would be that all forced base runners would be at risk leading to a greater likelihood of rally-killing double-plays.

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2 hours ago, Moshagge3 said:

The Orioles' last two triple plays happened because the umps didn't call infield fly.

The first one was not an infield fly.  The shortstop was running back to catch it, back to the infield.  He was certainly not camped under the ball.  It doesn't look like "ordinary effort" to me.  The umps were correct.  The second one looks like an umpire error to me, as the shortstop was pretty clearly camped under the fly ball and could have caught the ball with ordinary effort.  On top of that, it is hard to tell for sure, but it looks like the second baseman caught the shortstop's throw while standing on second base, which would take off the force to third of the runner standing on second base once the umpires blew it by not calling the infield fly.  Tagging him while he's on the base before stepping on second would be an out to that runner, but would not be an out if the fielder steps on second forcing out the runner from fist prior to tagging the runner standing on second.  Again, we don't have the best angle on whether the second baseman's foot was on the bag when he caught the ball, but it looks like two bad calls to me.  Official ruling should have been infield fly, batter out, runners remain at second and third since they were safely on their bases.   Once they blew the infield fly, this should have been a double play, with the runner starting at second base remaining there.  It would have been a bad call, but less bad than what they ended up with.  In both cases, it became a triple play as called because of the batter's failure to run to first base.  There is really no excuse for a batter to be thrown out at first base on a pop up.  If he's running upon hitting the ball, he makes first base easily.  The umpires have no blame for the batter not running.

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To answer brother @Frobby's initial question, I vote yes. 

You don't see the infield fly called very often.  I wouldn't know where to start to look up how many times a team sees the infield fly rule called in a year.  10-12 times?

So it doesn't happen very often to where it'd be a pain in the ass of the offense, essentially it'd be as bad as grounding into a double play.  But it happens enough to where, if a batter pops one up, you can sit up a little straighter in your chair cause you know you could see something pretty cool happen.

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I have thought the same thing. I like the aesthetic of having the minimum number of rules. The infield fly rule is a solution for a problem that doesn’t really exist. As Moose points out, it seems like a relatively rare play. Plus double plays are exciting....particularly odd ones.

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12 hours ago, Moose Milligan said:

To answer brother @Frobby's initial question, I vote yes. 

You don't see the infield fly called very often.  I wouldn't know where to start to look up how many times a team sees the infield fly rule called in a year.  10-12 times?

So it doesn't happen very often to where it'd be a pain in the ass of the offense, essentially it'd be as bad as grounding into a double play.  But it happens enough to where, if a batter pops one up, you can sit up a little straighter in your chair cause you know you could see something pretty cool happen.

It only seems that way to you because, as the rule stands, it is not a noticeable play.  For the most part, the infielder simply goes ahead and catches the ball now, since there is no advantage to let it drop and the risk of the ball bouncing away is needless, since there is no reward.  If the travesty of the game intentional drop were allowed to stand, believe me, you'd notice it.  Pretty much every rule in baseball is founded in fair play and has a good reason for existence.  FRobby posited that abolishing the infield fly rule would put a premium on speed.  This is false, as not even Usain Bolt could make it to the next base on 99% of these plays.  Reaching the next base safely would require a bad bounce of the ball, regardless of the speed of the runners.  The rule, as it stands, is in the best interest of the game and fair play. 

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o

 

George Carlin thought that randomly-placed landmines in the outfield would make the game more exciting ........ it might not be in the best interest of the game, but it would make it more exciting.

 

o

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