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Ruling


MT73

Question

9u OBR—Babe Ruth.

At pre game plate meeting both coaches agree there is no IFF.

Around the 3rd inning there is a pop up to infield with bases loaded.

‘No IFF called.

Defensive coach comes out with tournament rule sheet that shows that IFF is to be called and wants umpire to call it after the fact.

I am called by phone for a ruling.

I say no IFF because it was agreed upon at pre game.

However it will be in effect for the remainder of game and tournament.

I tell TD to hand out all in house rules to UIC so he can distribute them to the crews.

I also tell UIC  that the umpires should have checked the leagues website before the game to familiarize themselves with specific rules for each age group.

How would you guys have handled this situation?

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I would have handled this as you did, MT73. I'm not going to impose the IFF call after the fact because both teams apparently relied on the pre-game understanding, however misguided that was. Besides, this was an U9 game, for pete's sake, not the WS.

For whatever reason, the umpires in your case were relying on the coaches for the local rules. Consequently, they thought they were calling the game by the tournament rules, although they were misinformed.

I'm curious: was the pop-up caught or dropped? Did the IFF no-call affect anything?

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1 hour ago, LRZ said:

I would have handled this as you did, MT73. I'm not going to impose the IFF call after the fact because both teams apparently relied on the pre-game understanding, however misguided that was. Besides, this was an U9 game, for pete's sake, not the WS.

For whatever reason, the umpires in your case were relying on the coaches for the local rules. Consequently, they thought they were calling the game by the tournament rules, although they were misinformed.

I'm curious: was the pop-up caught or dropped? Did the IFF no-call affect anything?

Here's the rub.   Did they really "agree"?  Did DC passively nod his head because he wasn't sure, and didn't have enough to raise an argument?  Or did DC game it, knowing all along the IFF was in effect?

DC quite obviously went to his dugout and looked up the rules shortly after the "agreement" to see if it was right.   He was prepared when the scenario came up.

I'd go with the tourney rules.  Pre-game agreements don't override tourney rules.   This would be problematic if a few IFF's had already gone uncalled, but the past is the past.

Also - there's no way thinking the IFF was not in effect changed the outcome of the play at all, so calling IFF after the fact wouldn't be "unfair" from that respect - at nine years old all the IFF does, most of the time, is gives the defense a free out (and that's all the DC is looking for here, because it's quite obvious his defender didn't catch it) - nobody at that age is thinking of letting the ball drop to get a double play...there shouldn't even be an IFF rule at that age.

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Here's the rub.   Did they really "agree"?  Did DC passively nod his head because he wasn't sure, and didn't have enough to raise an argument?  Or did DC game it, knowing all along the IFF was in effect?
DC quite obviously went to his dugout and looked up the rules shortly after the "agreement" to see if it was right.   He was prepared when the scenario came up.
I'd go with the tourney rules.  Pre-game agreements don't override tourney rules.   This would be problematic if a few IFF's had already gone uncalled, but the past is the past.
Also - there's no way thinking the IFF was not in effect changed the outcome of the play at all, so calling IFF after the fact wouldn't be "unfair" from that respect - at nine years old all the IFF does, most of the time, is gives the defense a free out (and that's all the DC is looking for here, because it's quite obvious his defender didn't catch it) - nobody at that age is thinking of letting the ball drop to get a double play...there shouldn't even be an IFF rule at that age.


In my experience, U9's in tournaments regularly settle under and catch infield flies.

Your point about whether they let it drop is a good one, but of course there are some that will figure that out so I think wherever infield flies are often caught, you have to have the rule.
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On 9/19/2021 at 9:28 AM, MT73 said:

I tell TD to hand out all in house rules to UIC so he can distribute them to the crews.

I also tell UIC  that the umpires should have checked the leagues website before the game to familiarize themselves with specific rules for each age group.

I'm curious - what is your role here where you're instructing both the TD and the UIC?   Are you the guy the TD hired to supply the umps?

In any tournament I have run this call is either coming to me or the UIC, and we're collaborating on both how to handle the ruling of that game, and then ensuring it doesn't happen again.  The ruling should have come from there.  It's nice to see you, as presumably responsible for the supplied umps, taking this action when necessary...I'm just surprised you needed to (or that you were the first call).

As TD the UIC is accountable to me, and I'm accountable to...my wife.  

 

17 minutes ago, LRZ said:

You assume a lot of "facts" that may or may not be true. Absent those assumptions, I would not allow a coach to game the umpires and other team. YMMV. 

I assume nothing.  I even started my post with some questions.  Beyond that, I'm simply using common sense and deductive reasoning based on my experience in the game, as a participant and an observer, to come to the most likely scenarios and conclusions...knowing there are always exceptions.

DC isn't asking for an IFF if his fielder caught the ball...nor if his team successfully pulled off a triple play.  It's pretty easy to deduce why he wants IFF called here.

Whatever happened in this pre-game agreement, regardless of how the conversation occurred, DC was certainly prepared to argue the tourney rules, and the incorrectness of that agreement, by the time the scenario came up in the game.

If I were to speculate - at pre-game he wasn't the coach that told the umpire there was no IFF, and he wasn't sure himself so he didn't argue it.  He went to the bench, looked up the rules,(maybe mentioned it to the Assistant, who got curious), found the IFF rule, and decided he'd deal with it only if it came up (and hey, maybe it will work in his favor until then)...

if he actually vehemently argued pre-game that there was no IFF, I'd could see telling him 'tough luck' when he argued the opposite later in the game.

Regardless of any of that, it doesn't sound to me like it was an "agreement"...it sounds to me like the ump asked the coaches about the rules (which I have run across many times - I get it, with all the variety between leagues and tournaments), and it sounds like at least one of the coaches misinformed, probably unintentionally, the umpire.   That was not an agreement to play without the IFF, it was a misunderstanding of the rules based on bad information.  As such, it should be treated like any misunderstanding/misapplication of the rules - via appropriate protest procedures.

29 minutes ago, isired said:

In my experience, U9's in tournaments regularly settle under and catch infield flies.
Your point about whether they let it drop is a good one, but of course there are some that will figure that out so I think wherever infield flies are often caught, you have to have the rule.

I guess it depends on what you define as "often"...it's certainly not as often as the next age bracket, and the one after that.  Physiologically speaking, a lot of kids at this age haven't fully developed depth perception so those routine fly balls ain't so routine.  And only time solves that.  But, as you allude, that's beside the point.

There will be exceptions, but at 8-10 years old, in my far-too-long experience, they typically haven't developed that level of strategic (devious?) thinking yet.  They just want to catch the ball.  It would also be extremely rare to see that approach coached at that age - you're still dealing with basic drills at this point.  So, whether or not there's an IFF rule has very little bearing strategically, or tactically, on how the defense plays.  With very rare exceptions at those younger ages the IFF rule is not protecting the offense, it's rewarding the defense.   

I'll take the once in ten blue moons accidental double play over commonly dropped/misplayed balls that are IFF auto-outs for an eight year old that is thrilled just to get his bat on the ball, simply due to a rule created because of a loophole exploited by adults.

Even at 12-13 years old, even on club teams, it would be uncommon to find an infielder who is savvy enough to recognize the play, and skilled enough to pull it off (and have teammates aware and skilled enough to help him turn the DP/TP).

I like seeing those tournaments and leagues that drop IFF for the younglings.  It's not about when those fly balls are easily caught.  It's about when they can be turned into cheap DP's.  You don't need the rule until you reasonably and realistically need to start protecting the offense.   Club ball that may be about 12...rec ball it could be even 14.  IMHO.

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I was upstate hunting when I got the call.

‘I am the former UIC/Umpire instructor/rules interpreter for this very large baseball complex and I get calls from the league president, current UIC and individual umpires  time to time concerning situations.

Outside leagues rent our complex for tournaments and we supply the umpires.

I encourage  our directors to print out rule sheets as well as suggesting to the umpires to download the rules from the TD’s website before a game.

‘Yes—-umpire asked is IFF was in effect.

He was told by both coaches no.

Yes—ball was not caught and a few runs scored on throwing errors.

They asked me can the IFF be called after the fact.

No. IMHO

Can it be a dead ball do over.

No. IMHO

Then they asked under what rule authority I was basing my decision on.

I said that an umpire can make a decision on anything not covered in the rule book.

I also added—after stating that I have no official capacity anymore—  this is a MSU rule that they can do whatever they please but I felt that my opinion was based on fairness in an avoidable situation.

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, MT73 said:

They asked me can the IFF be called after the fact.

No. IMHO

Yes, IFF can be called post-facto, your Humble Opinion notwithstanding. Were the conditions for IFF met? Yes. Did the batted fly ball qualify as an IFF? Yes. Obviously, the ball wasn't caught, and as you said, a "series of runs were scored off several throwing errors". So, chaos ensued, and no outs were recorded on the play as it happened. This would be an entirely different discussion had the defense let the ball drop, and turned a triple play by forcing runners to advance that weren't (by IFF rule) under obligation to do so. 

Thus, a very appropriate judgement to make on this play, even post-facto, is to call the BR out on the IFF. The ball wasn't caught, so any tag-up responsibility is off the table. Any advancements or runs scored by the offense (other than the BR) are valid. It's not like this ends the inning – there'd only be 1 out or 2 outs, now. 

1 hour ago, MT73 said:

Can it be a dead ball do over.

No. IMHO

Your Humble Opinion or not, there isn't a grounds for a "do over". That was a Fair batted ball. The umpires did not call "Foul" or "Time" during the play (thereby killing it / making it Dead), so the play has to stand. There wasn't an act of nature or of God that disrupted the play. So, you're correct in saying that there is no do-over, but it's not based on your Opinion.

 

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30 minutes ago, MadMax said:

Thus, a very appropriate judgement to make on this play, even post-facto, is to call the BR out on the IFF.

 

 

That's true under FED.  I *think* under OBR you can only call it after the fact if the defense gets a double or triple play.  The rule is to protect the offense (so they get the benefit of the retroactive call), not to reward the defense (so they don't get that benefit).

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