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beerguy55

Botched IFF

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I'm trying to remove the HTBT element - as it goes to my question, it doesn't really matter whether it should have been ruled an IFF or not - if I was an ump I would have ruled it so, but I can see the argument to rule against it - in the end the fact it could go either way contributed to the confusion.  It's more about how it was handled as the play occurred, and after.

There were two umpires for this game.

R1 and R2, nobody out - fly ball behind third base to F6, who runs about 30 feet to the ball, and then it goes off the end of his glove.   Neither umpire says or signals anything.  In the confusion, nobody seems to know what to do...was the batter out or not, is there a force play or not.  Both runners go, and R1 ends up being tagged by the shortstop who recovered the ball and ran to the runner.   After the play the umpires confer, and rule it was an IFF, R1 left at his own peril, two out.

My first question to blue was whether or not they ruled it an IFF fly during the play, or during their conference.  Plate ump said he verbalized it, and then stated he only had to say it loud enough for the catcher to hear!!!!  I explained that the rule is there to protect the runners, so it only made sense to me that the runners needed to know if IFF had been called.  I personally think he was lying, and trying to save face - it's more likely to me that the umpires didn't even realize/remember they were in an IFF situation until after the play.  

He then berated me for not knowing the rules, and that my players should know it's an IFF.  My response was simple - an IFF is not one until an ump says so.  Just like a foul ball - I teach my players exactly one thing...there is only one condition that makes a batted ball foul - the umpire saying so.  I know the rule of what defines a foul ball, but if a ball I hit lands three feet foul, and the umpire points fair, I'm not going back to the batter's box to wait for the next pitch.   The runners need to know what the umpire has judged, so they know whether or not the force is on.

I have three questions:

1. What is the standard to how loud an umpire has to be on an IFF call, and how visible with his signals?  And is the practice in a two-man crew for either ump to be able to call it? 

2. Would I have any avenue to protest in the above situation?

3. Is there a mechanism for the umpires to rule an IFF after the play, and then put the runners back to their original bases?

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1. Very loud yell and pointing straight up. Either ump can initiate the call but they should both be saying it. 

2. No 

3. Yes they can rule it after the play, but as you found out it makes a big sticky mess. No they can't send the runner back. 

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1) None.  Either

2) No.

3) Yes they can.  If they do so and the defense obtains zero or one out, then let the play stand.  If the defense obtains 2 or 3 outs, call the batter out and return the runners.

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2 hours ago, Stk004 said:

1. Very loud yell and pointing straight up. Either ump can initiate the call but they should both be saying it. 

2. No 

3. Yes they can rule it after the play, but as you found out it makes a big sticky mess. No they can't send the runner back. 

I find it interesting that an umpire couldn't say "my bad, I was asleep at the switch, I should have called IFF, return the runners".  In short, it was the umpire's mistake that created the defensive advantage.  R1 did not run "at his peril", he ran because he was forced, or more accurately, was given every indication he was forced.  In the spirit of the rule, there should only be one out on this play.  If an IFF, the batter is out and you assume the runner would not have advanced to the fielder in front of him holding a ball, had he known the batter was out.  If not an IFF, R1 is out on the tag.   Ruling this a double play, especially after the fact, is a travesty, and exactly what the IFF rule is supposed to avoid.

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I find it interesting that an umpire couldn't say "my bad, I was asleep at the switch, I should have called IFF, return the runners".  In short, it was the umpire's mistake that created the defensive advantage.  R1 did not run "at his peril", he ran because he was forced, or more accurately, was given every indication he was forced.  In the spirit of the rule, there should only be one out on this play.  If an IFF, the batter is out and you assume the runner would not have advanced to the fielder in front of him holding a ball, had he known the batter was out.  If not an IFF, R1 is out on the tag.   Ruling this a double play, especially after the fact, is a travesty, and exactly what the IFF rule is supposed to avoid.

In NFHS games, the PU is right in saying that all participants are responsible for knowing when an IFF situation has presented itself. I know, screwy, but he does have grounds for that in a HS game. If they conferred that there was IFF, then R1 (ugh... The runner going to 3B) can most definitely remain out.

From what has been described, I believe I would rule no IFF, runner is out on force and hopefully the batter ran to 1B and is standing there during all the ruckous :)

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Softball Canada’s definition of infield fly actually tells umpires that the declaration is for the benefit of the runners. Wouldn’t that mean the umpire should call it loudly enough so that the runners can hear it (not just the catcher)? In addition, OBR and NFHS rule sets have the same language--"for the benefit of the runners".

Sec. 52 INFIELD FLY

a. Is a fair fly ball (not including a line drive or a bunt):

1) When first and second, or first, second, and third bases are occupied.

2) That can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort.

3) Before two are out. b. The pitcher, catcher, and any outfielder that positions himself in the infield on the play shall be considered infielders for the purpose of this rule.

NOTE:

1. When it seems apparent that a batted ball will be an infield fly, the umpire shall immediately declare, “INFIELD FLY, IF FAIR-THE BATTER IS OUT,” for the benefit of the runners.

2. 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.

3. If the hit becomes a foul ball, it is treated the same as any foul.

4. 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.

5. 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.

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1 hour ago, ALStripes17 said:

In NFHS games, the PU is right in saying that all participants are responsible for knowing when an IFF situation has presented itself. I know, screwy, but he does have grounds for that in a HS game.

Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk

God that is awful.  Just goes against not only all my instincts, but against the purpose of the rule...IMO even more important at the younger ages.  Even then, the players in my scenario knew it was an IFF situation - that's what caused the confusion.  It looked like an infield fly, but nobody said anything.  So the runners on first and second are left with the option of hoping the umpire gets the call right, staying on their bases, and risking a double play...or, concluding the umpire has judged it "not ordinary effort and not an IFF", figuring that's why he didn't say anything, and concluding the force is on.    It's one thing to understand you're in an IFF situation, it's another to read the umpire's mind to know his judgment.

And don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing with YOU...I just think there are poor provisions and mechanisms to remedy this particular situation.   A situation the occurs more frequently at lower levels of ball with umpires with less experience...though I've also seen umps with 20 years of experience make the mistake of simply freezing up on an IFF and not saying anything.

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I will just add this.  Let's assume that the umpire DID declare the IFF.  When the ball was not caught, he should have reinforced that call by saying, "That batter's out.  He's still out!" (or something similar) to make sure everyone knew that the force play is off.  Part of good umpiring is effective and clear communication, and this is one of those times where reinforcing the call is necessary.

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35 minutes ago, beerguy55 said:

God that is awful.  Just goes against not only all my instincts, but against the purpose of the rule...IMO even more important at the younger ages.  Even then, the players in my scenario knew it was an IFF situation - that's what caused the confusion.  It looked like an infield fly, but nobody said anything.  So the runners on first and second are left with the option of hoping the umpire gets the call right, staying on their bases, and risking a double play...or, concluding the umpire has judged it "not ordinary effort and not an IFF", figuring that's why he didn't say anything, and concluding the force is on.    It's one thing to understand you're in an IFF situation, it's another to read the umpire's mind to know his judgment.

And don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing with YOU...I just think there are poor provisions and mechanisms to remedy this particular situation.   A situation the occurs more frequently at lower levels of ball with umpires with less experience...though I've also seen umps with 20 years of experience make the mistake of simply freezing up on an IFF and not saying anything.

Just a question for you - was it an routinely catchable ball? Was this something where the runners would go half-way?

 Technically speaking, it still can be an infield fly without the umpire calling it. But like Grayhawk said, the umpire should have been vocal, if he called it and stated over and over - "Batter is out".

If you call your runners back, and the defense "drops" the ball to try for the double play - this is easily fixable by the umpires.

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5 hours ago, maineump said:

Just a question for you - was it an routinely catchable ball? Was this something where the runners would go half-way?

 Technically speaking, it still can be an infield fly without the umpire calling it. But like Grayhawk said, the umpire should have been vocal, if he called it and stated over and over - "Batter is out".

If you call your runners back, and the defense "drops" the ball to try for the double play - this is easily fixable by the umpires.

Borderline...I'd say yes, but I could understand where an umpire would disagree.  It, however, was certainly not deep enough for the runners to go halfway - the shortstop ran probably 30-50 feet towards the foul line...probably about 5-10 from the foul line, still on the dirt.  The runner on second would only be able to be a few steps off the base, so he he can get back in time if it's caught.  Same with runner on first.  

Technically speaking, the shortstop was still moving when the ball hit his glove but IMO it was "ordinary effort", and if it wasn't an IFF situation I would rule it an error - however, I wouldn't argue too loudly if an umpire decided it wasn't ordinary effort and let it go, nor would I argue too loudly if a scorekeeper ruled it a hit in a non-IFF situation.   But in the end it doesn't really matter how "obvious" a judgment call is...it's still a judgment call, and you never know for sure until the ump makes his judgment known - balls/strikes, out/safe, fair/foul, obstruction/interference, or IFF.  I don't care if a ball lands ten feet foul in the outfield...if the umpire doesn't say it's foul, my players aren't stopping whether they're on the bases or in the field.

And, hey, umps make mistakes, and sometimes they freeze up and don't make timely calls.  I simply think in some cases the rules don't let umpires clean up their mess when they didn't handle something in real time the best way.

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15 hours ago, beerguy55 said:

But in the end it doesn't really matter how "obvious" a judgment call is...it's still a judgment call, and you never know for sure until the ump makes his judgment known - balls/strikes, out/safe, fair/foul, obstruction/interference, or IFF.  I don't care if a ball lands ten feet foul in the outfield...if the umpire doesn't say it's foul, my players aren't stopping whether they're on the bases or in the field.

The difference between those other examples and an IFF is that there is a "safe" choice.  E.g., runners can run assuming fair because there is no consequence if the ball is in fact foul.  There is no "safe" choice on a possible IFF.

 

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