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Guest Tony C.

Avoid the Sac Fly Walk Off

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Guest Tony C.

Situation: Runner on third, less than two outs, any sac fly situation applies but lets consider bottom of the 9th in a tie game for the sake of argument.  The batter hits a fly ball to any of the outfielders that's too deep to throw the runner out once they tag. Due to the tie game in the 9th, the runner at third is gearing up to tag and score the winning run. What if, the outfielder purposefully bobbles the ball or lets it pop up into the air after it hits their glove before they catch it? The runner will take off as soon as the ball hits the glove but they would be leaving early since the ball was bobbled or popped into the air. At that point, the runner would have to go back and re-tag third in order to run home, giving the outfielder enough time (theoretically) to throw them out at the plate. If they don't re-tag, you could appeal that they left early. Or they would simply go back to third and there would be two outs with a runner on third and that eliminates the possibility of a sac fly.  Could this work if the outfielder was able to control it off the bobble and get it to the plate in time?

In a tie game, it wouldn't necessarily matter if you drop the ball when trying to pop it into the air because the runner would score if you caught it anyway assuming it was deep enough.

This quarantine got me thinking outside the box.

 

Thanks - TC

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23 minutes ago, Guest Tony C. said:

Situation: Runner on third, less than two outs, any sac fly situation applies but lets consider bottom of the 9th in a tie game for the sake of argument.  The batter hits a fly ball to any of the outfielders that's too deep to throw the runner out once they tag. Due to the tie game in the 9th, the runner at third is gearing up to tag and score the winning run. What if, the outfielder purposefully bobbles the ball or lets it pop up into the air after it hits their glove before they catch it? The runner will take off as soon as the ball hits the glove but they would be leaving early since the ball was bobbled or popped into the air. At that point, the runner would have to go back and re-tag third in order to run home, giving the outfielder enough time (theoretically) to throw them out at the plate. If they don't re-tag, you could appeal that they left early. Or they would simply go back to third and there would be two outs with a runner on third and that eliminates the possibility of a sac fly.  Could this work if the outfielder was able to control it off the bobble and get it to the plate in time?

In a tie game, it wouldn't necessarily matter if you drop the ball when trying to pop it into the air because the runner would score if you caught it anyway assuming it was deep enough.

This quarantine got me thinking outside the box.

 

Thanks - TC

Runners can tag once the ball is "touched".  

It would be cool though to see if the OF'er could bobble it all the way to the plate.  OR, hot potato it there!

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As previously stated the runner may leave once the ball is touched.  The runner does not have to wait till the ball is caught.  This prevents the exact situation (juggling the ball) that you describe.

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There's a reason you never see this.

Every time you think of a possible loophole, ask yourself: have I ever seen this? If not, assume it's illegal.

Runners can leave once a fly ball is touched in all codes. Retouch is required only if the ball is subsequently caught.

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2 hours ago, maven said:

 

Runners can leave once a fly ball is touched in all codes. Retouch is required only if the ball is subsequently caught.

Say what?

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Tony C., what all the others have told you is correct because it is actually in the rule book (bold emphasis added)—

2019 OBR Definitions of Terms (Catch) Comment: A catch is legal if the ball is finally held by any fielder, even though juggled, or held by another fielder before it touches the ground. Runners may leave their bases the instant the first fielder touches the ball. A fielder may reach over a fence, railing, rope or other line of demarcation to make a catch. He may jump on top of a railing, or canvas that may be in foul ground. No interference should be allowed when a fielder reaches over a fence, railing, rope or into a stand to catch a ball. He does so at his own risk.

This rule did not enter the rule book until 1920. Prior to that the rule was that runners after returning to their original base (retouching or tagging up) could try to advance as soon as the ball had been “settled into the hands of a fielder.” Umpires took that phrase to mean that a ball had to be firmly secured before a runner was free to tag up and try to advance.

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4 hours ago, maven said:

There's a reason you never see this.

Every time you think of a possible loophole, ask yourself: have I ever seen this? If not, assume it's illegal.

Runners can leave once a fly ball is touched in all codes. Retouch is required only if the ball is subsequently caught.

Last sentence - incorrect.

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I don't know what people are reading into my statement. A fly ball that is uncaught does not require runners to retouch. This is a pretty basic claim.

The "subsequently" refers to a bobbled fly ball: if caught after the bobble ("subsequently"), runners much retouch. If dropped after the bobble, no retouch required.

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30 minutes ago, maven said:

I don't know what people are reading into my statement. A fly ball that is uncaught does not require runners to retouch. This is a pretty basic claim.

The "subsequently" refers to a bobbled fly ball: if caught after the bobble ("subsequently"), runners much retouch. If dropped after the bobble, no retouch required.

I think they are reading that a runner leaving the base on first touch of a bobble must retouch the base when the result of the bobble was a catch. Which is not the case but there is a semantic issue with leaving and retouch in the OBR rules. 

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38 minutes ago, maven said:

I don't know what people are reading into my statement. A fly ball that is uncaught does not require runners to retouch. This is a pretty basic claim.

The "subsequently" refers to a bobbled fly ball: if caught after the bobble ("subsequently"), runners much retouch. If dropped after the bobble, no retouch required.

In normal English construct ti says runners must retouch after the subsequent catch.

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1 minute ago, Rich Ives said:

In normal English construct ti says runners must retouch after the subsequent catch.

Yup.

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maven, I think the word "retouch" is causing confusion.

R3, one out, fly ball to the outfield.  Ball hits the fielder's glove and pops-up into the air.  R3, standing on third, takes off for the plate.  The fielder then subsequently "catches" the ball.  R3 does NOT have to go back and "retouch" third base after the catch is made.

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On 3/21/2020 at 12:11 PM, maven said:

Every time you think of a possible loophole, ask yourself: have I ever seen this? If not, assume it's illegal.

In fairness, it's not illegal for an outfielder to do this. It's just not going to end up the way he thought it would.

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On 3/21/2020 at 5:59 PM, maven said:

I don't know what people are reading into my statement. A fly ball that is uncaught does not require runners to retouch. This is a pretty basic claim.

The "subsequently" refers to a bobbled fly ball: if caught after the bobble ("subsequently"), runners much retouch. If dropped after the bobble, no retouch required.


Not in Fed.  The runner can leave at first touch.  A catch following the first touch does not require the runner to wait or retouch.

 

8-2-4

ART. 4 . . . If a fair or foul batted ball is caught, other than a foul tip, each base runner shall touch his base after the batted ball has touched a fielder. (See 8-4-1c for fielder intentionally dropping the ball and 8-4-2i for runner being put out.)

There is more verbiage in the penalty as well.

I won’t speak for any other codes.

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11 hours ago, The Man in Blue said:


Not in Fed.  The runner can leave at first touch.  A catch following the first touch does not require the runner to wait or retouch.

 

8-2-4

ART. 4 . . . If a fair or foul batted ball is caught, other than a foul tip, each base runner shall touch his base after the batted ball has touched a fielder. (See 8-4-1c for fielder intentionally dropping the ball and 8-4-2i for runner being put out.)

There is more verbiage in the penalty as well.

I won’t speak for any other codes.

Same for OBR. Not sure of rule reference.

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On 3/22/2020 at 11:19 PM, The Man in Blue said:


Not in Fed.  The runner can leave at first touch.  A catch following the first touch does not require the runner to wait or retouch.

 

8-2-4

ART. 4 . . . If a fair or foul batted ball is caught, other than a foul tip, each base runner shall touch his base after the batted ball has touched a fielder. (See 8-4-1c for fielder intentionally dropping the ball and 8-4-2i for runner being put out.)

There is more verbiage in the penalty as well.

I won’t speak for any other codes.

Yes, and that's the same in OBR and all codes...baseball and softball.

The clarification comes when the runner is already off base when it is first touched...ie. R1 leading off, line drive hits F3's glove and goes up in the air...he assumes he can go because it has been touched, but if the ball is subsequently caught, he is it at jeopardy to be called out on appeal....after the line drive hit F3's glove, R1 needs to retouch first before he can proceed (but doesn't need to wait for the catch)...or he can take the risk that it won't be caught (like any other batted ball).

A runner must touch the base on a caught batted ball, some point after it has been first touched.  If that makes sense.

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56 minutes ago, beerguy55 said:

Yes, and that's the same in OBR and all codes...baseball and softball.

The clarification comes when the runner is already off base when it is first touched...ie. R1 leading off, line drive hits F3's glove and goes up in the air...he assumes he can go because it has been touched, but if the ball is subsequently caught, he is it at jeopardy to be called out on appeal....after the line drive hit F3's glove, R1 needs to retouch first before he can proceed (but doesn't need to wait for the catch)...or he can take the risk that it won't be caught (like any other batted ball).

A runner must touch the base on a caught batted ball, some point after it has been first touched.  If that makes sense.

The problem is that a new reader to OBR would learn that a runner tagging up would be able to leave on first touch: "5.09(a)(1)CATCH COMMENT: ….. Runners may leave their bases the instant the first fielder touches the ball....."

Then that reader would learn that a runner who lead off and was waiting to retouch would have to retouch after the CATCH. (Practically speaking that's what would normally happen). "5.09(b)(5).  He fails to retouch his base after a fair or foul ball is legally caught before he, or his base, is tagged by a fielder."

Luckily our reader continues thru the whole book and finds in the INFIELD FLY definition the wording that allows runners to retouch and advance when the infield fly is first touched, "the same as on any fly ball"

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On 3/21/2020 at 8:36 AM, Guest Tony C. said:

 What if, the outfielder purposefully bobbles the ball or lets it pop up into the air after it hits their glove before they catch it? The runner will take off as soon as the ball hits the glove but they would be leaving early since the ball was bobbled or popped into the air. At that point, the runner would have to go back and re-tag third in order to run home, giving the outfielder enough time (theoretically) to throw them out at the plate. If they don't re-tag, you could appeal that they left early. Or they would simply go back to third and there would be two outs with a runner on third and that eliminates the possibility of a sac fly.  Could this work if the outfielder was able to control it off the bobble and get it to the plate in time?

This quarantine got me thinking outside the box.

 

Although many rules have been created as a result of some clever player/coach finding a loophole, for this particular case I haven't found any documented incident like this.

I suspect if it did happen, it was in the 19th century  However, it does appear that the rule makers recognized the loophole immediately, and accounted for it when they first wrote the rule....allowing the runner to leave the base after the ball is touched.

Kudos to them if that's the case - at the time the game was gentlemanly (the focus of baseball was exercise, not winning), and the rule makers wrote from that perspective - to proactively account for this type of deviousness was rare.

The rule for a batter being out on a caught "in flight" ball came in 1864 (before that, the batter was also out if "caught" on one bounce...and foul balls caught on one bounce were outs for many more years).  So I suspect the tag up rule came at the same time (prior to that, a caught ball was "dead" and runners had the "privilege" of returning to their base)

However, the infield fly rule wasn't adopted for another 30 years...to account for defenses figuring out they could let them drop and get easy double plays - since the runners had to stay close to their bases to tag up...I doubt it took them 30 years to change the rule...it's more likely it took 30 years for players to get devious enough to do this (or not care about the unsportsmanlike optics).

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As I posted 10 days ago, the rule allowing runners to advance on caught fly balls as soon as the fielder touched the ball entered the rule book in 1920. Here’s what the actual rule was in 1864--

"Sec. 18. No ace or base can be made when a fair ball has been caught without having touched the ground; such a ball shall be considered alive and in play. In such cases players running bases shall return to them, and may be put out in so returning, in the same manner as the striker when running to first base; but players, when balls are so caught, may run their bases immediately after the ball has been settled in the hands of the player catching it."

And here’s the change made to the rule in 1920--

1920 Official Base Ball Rules adopted by the National and American Leagues and the National Association of Professional Base Ball Leagues (amendments for 1920 indicated by italics)

Rule 56 Section 10

If, when a fair or foul hit ball (other than a foul tip as defined in Rule 46) be legally caught by a fielder, such ball be legally held by a fielder on the base occupied by the base-runner when such ball was batted, or the base-runner be touched with the ball in the hands of a fielder, before he retouch such base after such fair or foul hit ball was so caught; provided, that the base-runner shall not be out in such case, if, after the ball was legally caught as above, it be delivered to the bat by the pitcher before the fielder hold it on said base, or touch the base-runner out with it; but if the base-runner, in attempting to reach a base, detach it from its fastening before being touched or forced out, he shall be declared safe. A base-runner who holds his base on a fly ball shall have the right to advance the moment such fly ball touches the hands of a fielder.

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2 hours ago, Senor Azul said:

As I posted 10 days ago, the rule allowing runners to advance on caught fly balls as soon as the fielder touched the ball entered the rule book in 1920. Here’s what the actual rule was in 1864--

"Sec. 18. No ace or base can be made when a fair ball has been caught without having touched the ground; such a ball shall be considered alive and in play. In such cases players running bases shall return to them, and may be put out in so returning, in the same manner as the striker when running to first base; but players, when balls are so caught, may run their bases immediately after the ball has been settled in the hands of the player catching it."

And here’s the change made to the rule in 1920--

1920 Official Base Ball Rules adopted by the National and American Leagues and the National Association of Professional Base Ball Leagues (amendments for 1920 indicated by italics)

Rule 56 Section 10

If, when a fair or foul hit ball (other than a foul tip as defined in Rule 46) be legally caught by a fielder, such ball be legally held by a fielder on the base occupied by the base-runner when such ball was batted, or the base-runner be touched with the ball in the hands of a fielder, before he retouch such base after such fair or foul hit ball was so caught; provided, that the base-runner shall not be out in such case, if, after the ball was legally caught as above, it be delivered to the bat by the pitcher before the fielder hold it on said base, or touch the base-runner out with it; but if the base-runner, in attempting to reach a base, detach it from its fastening before being touched or forced out, he shall be declared safe. A base-runner who holds his base on a fly ball shall have the right to advance the moment such fly ball touches the hands of a fielder.

Thank you.

Now I'm gonna see if I can find some incident that happened in 1919 to drive this rule change.

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On 3/30/2020 at 12:13 PM, beerguy55 said:

Yes, and that's the same in OBR and all codes...baseball and softball.

The clarification comes when the runner is already off base when it is first touched...ie. R1 leading off, line drive hits F3's glove and goes up in the air...he assumes he can go because it has been touched, but if the ball is subsequently caught, he is it at jeopardy to be called out on appeal....after the line drive hit F3's glove, R1 needs to retouch first before he can proceed (but doesn't need to wait for the catch)...or he can take the risk that it won't be caught (like any other batted ball).

A runner must touch the base on a caught batted ball, some point after it has been first touched.  If that makes sense.


Ahhh ... I was missing the bit about leading off and tagging up ... I was assuming the runner had already retreated to the bag.  Thank you!

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On 3/31/2020 at 2:39 PM, beerguy55 said:

Thank you.

Now I'm gonna see if I can find some incident that happened in 1919 to drive this rule change.

I believe it was in reference to Joe Jackson juggling the ball on purpose toward the infield so as to not let baserunners have a better chance to advance on a "caught" flyball. 

So why can a runner legally tag when a foul flyball is first touched and bobbled? Being that no runner can advance on on a foul ball and a ball first touched over foul territory is an immediate foul ball.

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Guys, don’t engage Mr. Steven Tyler on this question. He tried arguing this point in June 2019 in the Rules forum and everyone told him the correct answer which he obviously has chosen not to accept. So save yourself some aggravation.

 

 

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