Mythbusting

While the main purpose of our book is to make learning the rules easier. This is done by better organization of the various rule sources. The ancillary benefit of it is mythbusting. If rules are easier to find and understand, then myths can start to die. I am probably over my skies with that dream, but I might as well aim big.

I saw this video this morning and realized it was a chance to bust two myths at once a two-fer. This play was so weird that the guys are MLB Advanced Media mislabeled it.

Here is the play:

The announcers claim it was an appealed strike three, uncaught, followed by an immediate tag by the catcher. They look at the replay and say that the Cub did not swing and the Sox got a break. Did they?

Look at the replay closely.

The ball hits the dirt and then Castro’s bat. A lot of fans think this is not legal at worst or a foul ball at best. Fact is, a player can hit a ball that strikes the ground first.

Then the ball lands on home plate. The catcher scoops it up and makes the tag. A lot of folks think that home plate is in foul territory. It is not.

Add it all up and this is a ball hit into fair territory with a tab being applied. There is no strike out as the announcers state (and how the video is labeled). How do I know the umpire did not call a strikeout?

The play by play lists this at bat a soft ground ball to the catcher.

Find out about this and other myths by visiting our website.

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Worst Nightmare

Nothing is more scary for an umpire than taking one off the head. Look at what happened in a MLB game the other night.

It seems as if the default when this happens is to now get the guys off the field. I think this is a great development. You only get one head in life. Safety should always be the driving factor.

Now, I will take issue with the description of the post from MLB Media. It says “Umpire takes foul tip…”

He did not. He took a foul ball off the mask. By definition a foul tip cannot go directly from the bat to the mask.

Foul tips (and just the tips) are covered on page 10 of RuleGraphics.

Easy outs

In terms of grabbing an easy out, they don’t come much easier than this one:

A common rule myth is that home plate is in foul territory (it is not) or a ball that strikes home plate is foul (it is not) or finally a ball that hits behind home plate is foul (it is not).

If a batter hits the ball down the line and half way between third and home it rolls fair, this is a fair ball. Hitting the ball behind the plate is no different.

If the ball has not crossed first or third, the call is made by where the ball (not fielder) is when the ball is touched or where the ball comes to rest.

Nice job by the umpire in not killing this play too soon.

Page 37 of RuleGraphics covers fair/foul balls.

Over the bag

Fair/foul balls are not usually subject to arguments. There are always exceptions though. Here is a play in a recent Yankee game.

What does it take to be a fair ball?

A FAIR BALL is a batted ball that settles on fair ground between home and first base, or between home and third base, or that is on or over fair territory when bounding to the outfield past first or third base, or that touches first, second or third base, or that first falls on fair territory on or beyond first base or third base, or that, while on or over fair territory touches the person of an umpire or player, or that, while over fair territory, passes out of the playing field in flight.

I added the emphasis. When the ball is bounding it can be over fair territory and still be fair. It does not have to be touch fair territory on either side of the base. First and third (well all the bases) are in fair territory.

Put it all together and a ball that bounces over a base is a fair ball. This is what happens in this play. The ball does not land fair after passing the base – but it does not have to. Good call here.

A few inside baseball things here. Notice how the field umpire made this call. This is normal procedure. Up to the base is the home plate guys call and anything that bounces over is taken by the field guy. The Yankee manager first argues with the home plate umpire who correctly tells him he did not make the call.

On the last replay, you see the field umpire call fair ball. The home plate guy is looking at him and vigorously shaking his “yes”. I think he is trying to help his partner out in case he was blocked.

All in all a good call on a tricky play. Page 37 of RuleGraphics contains fair/foul ball. See examples of the book and information on where to buy at our website.

That’s a fou…er fair ball

Check out this funky spin:

As long as the ball has not crossed first or third base, or if a fly ball has not landed beyond first and third base, it is neither fair or foul until the ball is touched or comes to rest. This ball starts five feet foul and then comes back fair.

It is not touched until fair so this is a fair ball. Nice job by the umpires to wait until there is a call to be made. Oftentimes, you will see umpires just stare at an obvious foul ball and not do anything until it is touched (if at all).

This is an umpire who has mistakenly called foul too early in his past. Good work by the crew on this call.

Fair/foul is covered on page 37 of RuleGraphics.

Gettin’ it right

Chalk up this play to “it happens to all of us”. MLB is not allowing this to be embedded yet.

The ball clearly hits the base yet the umpire calls a foul ball. Right away from the look on his face, you can tell he was unsure.

He got together with his crew and they decided to overturn the call. At this point they had to choose where to put the runner. Second base seemed like a reasonable place.

There are a lot of new procedures in place to help “get the call right”. In MLB obviously they can get together – otherwise this crew would have not followed protocol. In college there are rules for when a crew can get together. I believe that fair/foul is one of them once it goes to the outfield (I don’t do college baseball).

Consider high school baseball to be the outlier. If this were a high school game, the umpire would have to eat his call. Once an umpire calls “foul” and the ball hits the ground – it is a foul ball.

Page 37 of RuleGraphics covers fair/foul balls. Click on our website to see samples and find out how to order a copy.

Keep your head on a swivel

My high school baseball coach would always say the same thing to players as they were leading off third – “off in foul and back in fair”. He was the coach, so I just did it. I figured it was a safety thing. Only later did I learn this had something to do with the rules.

Let’s start with 7.08(f):

7.08 Any runner is out when—

(f) He is touched by a fair ball in fair territory before the ball has touched or passed an infielder. The ball is dead and no runner may score, nor runners advance, except runners forced to advance.

The only way a runner can be out if touched by a batted ball is if it is a fair ball and he is in fair territory. By having a runner lead off in foul territory, the small chance of losing a runner on third on this fluke is eliminated.

Further if the ball touches the runner immediately in foul territory, it is a foul ball – end of story.  Check out the last clause of the FOUL BALL definition

A FOUL BALL is a batted ball that settles on foul territory between home and first base, or between home and third base, or that bounds past first or third base on or over foul  territory, or that first falls on foul territory beyond first or third base, or that, while on or over foul territory, touches the person of an umpire or player, or any object foreign to the natural ground.

This leaves only one goofy thing that can happen. If a batted ball were to hit third base it is a fair ball. After the ricochet if it hits a runner in foul territory, that runner is not out unless his touching was intentional.

Now that the rule is understood, the other question is how often does this actually happen? Well it happened just this last week in Major League Baseball.

Bruce got whacked in foul ground. Ball was properly ruled foul with no out being recorded.

Foul Ball is on page 37 and runner being hit by a batted ball is on page 54 of RuleGraphics.

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All you limbo boys and girls

Today is a one time holiday for Cub fans everywhere. I wish you all a Happy Kris Bryant Day. He being the goat slaying uber-prospect that will finally deliver a championship.

Again, people will wonder what does this have to do with the rules.

Well, in his last (probably ever) minor league AB, Bryant does what Bryant does – he hit a homer. It did not come without controversy.

It was a pole bender that was ruled fair. Here is the video:

It is minor league video so there is not a great view of the ball leaving the park. That is the key to the rule. The ball does not have to land fair beyond the wall. It just has to leave the park inside the foul pole.

On a bouncing ball over first or third the rule is similar. It does not matter where the ball lands it only matters that it bounded over the base.

It looks like this was a 3 man umpiring crew. With a man on first, this fair/foul ball down the line is the responsibility of the home plate umpire. Not optimal but it is what it is. The umpire does a good job of finding the line, gaining some ground towards the play, and then being set to make the call. A lot of umpires would still be moving on this call – a bad thing to do.

Fair/Foul ball is covered on page 37 of RuleGraphics.