9 Rules Questions Answered Here
1. Infield Fly Rule situation. The bases are loaded and one out when the batter hits a pop fly near first base in fair territory. The umpires invoke the IFR. The runner on first base, who is several feet off the bag, is tracking the fly ball instead of locating the first baseman who is about to make the catch. The runner unintentionally runs into the first baseman who makes the catch in fair territory. Should a double play be called?
Yes. The batter is called out under the Infield Fly Rule and the runner is called out for interference because he hindered or impeded the fielder. The fact the fielder made the catch does not erase the act of interference.
2. In the situation above, what if the ball is caught in foul territory after the runner interferes with the fielder?
The runner is called out and the batter remains at bat because the IFR is not invoked on a foul ball.
See the Comment in the Definition of Terms section in the Official Baseball Rules. It reads, “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.
3. There’s a runner on first base when the batter hits a foul fly ball deep down the left field line. The left fielder makes the catch and falls into the stands. The runner, who was on first base, was beyond second base when the fielder fell into the stands. The umpire awarded the runner second base because the fielder fell into the stands following the catch. However, the runner never tagged-up. Does the runner have the right to return to first base and tag-up before going to second base, his awarded base because he already touched second base?
Yes. The runner can return to first base and tag-up because he did not touch third base, one base beyond the base he last touched after the ball went into dead ball territory. For instance, in the above play, if the runner continued to run and touched third base after the ball went into DBT, he would lose the right to return to his original base at the time the pitch was delivered which was first base.
See Rule 5.09 (c) (2) APPROVED RULING, Sec. B…It reads, “When the ball is dead, no runner may return to touch a missed base or one he has left after he has advanced to and touched a base beyond his missed base…”
Although the rule prohibits the runner from returning to a missed base he has left without tagging-up, or failed to touch, once he advanced “one base beyond” when the ball is dead, the umpires cannot stop the runner from doing so. The onus remains on the defensive team to appeal the violation even after the runner has attempted to correct the infraction after the ball is dead.
Example: The batter hits a fair fly ball that bounces in the stands for a book rule double but he misses first base on the way to second. The batter is between first and second when the ball goes into dead ball territory. If the batter touches second base after the ball is dead, he loses the right to go back and touch first base. If has not reached second base, he can return to touch first base. This is where the base coach needs to carefully observe the touch of first base. Of course, the defensive team should be aware as well so they can make the proper appeal.
4. Lineup card problem…two players in the batting order are listed in the wrong position. Is this a batting out of order situation?
No. Rule 5.04 (a) (1) says, “Each player of the offensive team shall bat in the order that his name appears in his team’s batting order.”
If prior to the start of the game the plate umpire, manager, or coach, notices an obvious error in the order (i.e. two players in the same position; no DH), he can correct the error. Umpires working American League games must be sure there is a pitcher and a DH listed.
5. With the bases empty, the batter has a count of two balls and two strikes on him when he swings and misses a pitch in the dirt. The ball rebounds off the catcher and hits the runner’s foot as he attempts to advance to first base. Should the runner be called out for interference?
The answer is found in rule 6.01 (a) (1), Comment. It reads, “If the pitched ball deflects off the catcher or umpire and subsequently touches the batter-runner, it is not considered interference unless, in the judgment of the umpire, the batter-runner clearly hinders the catcher in his attempt to field the ball.” Intent of the batter-runner in not written into the rule.
There was a time when the vicinity of the batter- runner factored into the rule. But it no longer matters if the batter-runner is in the vicinity of home plate or up the first baseline when the deflected ball strikes him. If he clearly hinders the catcher from making a play, he should be called out for interference. The ball is dead.
6. When can a runner barrel over a catcher?
A runner can barrel over a catcher if he has possession of the ball and is in the runner’s lane. If a catcher is attempting to field a thrown ball and moves into the runner’s lane, he can be barreled over without the ball in his possession. If the runner, however, has the opportunity to slide to avoid the fielder, he should do so.
7. Can a runner lower his shoulder?
The runner can lower his shoulder if he is barreling over a catcher who has possession of the ball in the runner’s lane or is attempting to field a throw in the runner’s lane. If the runner deviates his lane to target the catcher and lowers his shoulder, then that would be illegal and the runner should be called out.
A runner is not allowed to use his hands or arms to commit an obviously malicious or unsportsmanlike act-such as grabbing, tackling, intentionally slapping at the baseball, punching, kicking, flagrantly using his arms or forearms etc. to commit an intentional act of interference unrelated to running the bases.
8. Can a pitcher before coming to a set position take his sign with his pitching hand in the front of his body near his glove?
The rule book clearly states that preparatory to coming to a set position, the pitcher shall have one hand on his side. Because the pitcher is required to get his sign while on the rubber in both the windup and set positions, it is my interpretation that the pitcher should have one hand to his side while taking his sign.
9. With a runner on base, the pitcher accidentally delivers a pitch off the side of his leg. The ball rolls 20-feet from the mound and stops. Is this a balk?
If the ball does not cross the foul line, it’s a balk. If the ball crosses the foul line, a “ball” should be called.