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Old Fri May 03, 2013, 12:20pm
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fair/foul - then catch/no-catch

I do it because I see others do it, but I've always wondered why we do it. This is an especially prevalent mechanic in MLB.

A flyball down down the right field line. The catch is made about 5-feet into fair territory. The umpire first signals that it's fair and then signals that it's a catch.

First of all, if it's a catch, isn't the fact that it was caught in fair or foul territory irrelevant?

Secondly, shouldn't the fact that it's catch (or not) be more important than to first indicate whether it was on the fair or foul side?

Why does this odd mechanic exist?

Just curious.
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Old Fri May 03, 2013, 12:43pm
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If the catch is routine, or if the no-catch is that obvious, then giving the catch/no-catch mechanic right away is not really necessary. You only need to give the immediate mechanic on a trouble ball, and in those cases, umpires rarely give both signals.

In other words, if a sinking line drive down the rightfield line is:
1. Caught in fair or foul territory, the umpire will almost always just come up with the Catch signal, and not bother signalling fair or foul
2. Trapped in fair territory, the umpire will almost always just come up with an emphatic fair mechanic
3. Trapped in foul territory, the umpire will almost always just come up with an emphatic foul call/mechanic

The only time I ever see what you describe (fair/foul signal, then catch signal) is on the routine catch. And I can only assume the signal is given to inform the scorer whether to write "F9" or "FF9" in the book.
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Old Fri May 03, 2013, 01:13pm
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Needed information and the order we need it.

The mechanic allows the runnners on base the information they need in the order they need it.
The fair or foul call is predicated upon where the ball is when it is touched. The catch no catch can be considerably later upon the fielders ability to control the ball. So with runners on, a runner may tag up and leave his base as soon as the ball is touched. I do not point fare or foul until the ball is touched or and then I wait to rule on the catch-no catch.
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Old Fri May 03, 2013, 01:18pm
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I see them call it just about every time. A discussion on umpire.org is going on now. Everyone says call it with one exception by a person with questionable (to me at least) motivations. Those who have been to Evans' academy say he teaches to always call it.

It is especially important on a ball very near the line. It is possible to have a ball touched in the air over the line, then dropped so you see that determination just might have to happen before you know if it's caught or not.
And then everyone really needs to know and know now if it's fair or foul because it governs ensuing action.

Don't get lazy on calls. Make a call every time so you're in the habit and don't forget at a crucial time.
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Last edited by Rich Ives; Fri May 03, 2013 at 01:53pm.
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Old Fri May 03, 2013, 01:28pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manny A View Post
If the catch is routine, or if the no-catch is that obvious, then giving the catch/no-catch mechanic right away is not really necessary. You only need to give the immediate mechanic on a trouble ball, and in those cases, umpires rarely give both signals.

In other words, if a sinking line drive down the rightfield line is:
1. Caught in fair or foul territory, the umpire will almost always just come up with the Catch signal, and not bother signalling fair or foul
2. Trapped in fair territory, the umpire will almost always just come up with an emphatic fair mechanic
3. Trapped in foul territory, the umpire will almost always just come up with an emphatic foul call/mechanic

The only time I ever see what you describe (fair/foul signal, then catch signal) is on the routine catch. And I can only assume the signal is given to inform the scorer whether to write "F9" or "FF9" in the book.
All of this is fine if you're not being evaluated or observed that day.

The two signals are supposed to be given, as David said.

As to why ... which is his actual question that no one has answered, I suspect the reason no one has answered is that we don't really know. Sort of a "we do what we're told" kind of thing.
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Old Fri May 03, 2013, 02:01pm
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Originally Posted by Rich Ives View Post
I see them call it just about every time. A discussion on umpire.org is going on now. Everyone says call it with one exception by a person with questionable (to me at least) motivations. Those who have been to Evans' academy say he teaches to always call it.

It is especially important on a ball very near the line. It is possible to have a ball touched in the air over the line, then dropped so you see that determination just might have to happen before you know if it's caught or not.
And then everyone really needs to know and know now if it's fair or foul because it governs ensuing action.

Don't get lazy on calls. Make a call every time so you're in the habit and don't forget at a crucial time.
+1

And while the OP is right that is doesn't matter if the ball is caught (except maybe to the scorer), you won't know that the ball is caught until after you should have signaled fair/foul.
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Old Fri May 03, 2013, 02:03pm
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Originally Posted by Robert E. Harrison View Post
The mechanic allows the runnners on base the information they need in the order they need it.
What possible information does a tagging base runner gain when it comes to fair/foul? It shouldn't matter to him; the moment the ball is touched, he's running. He doesn't need to look at the umpire for a fair/foul call. He's taking off, and he'll let his base coach or his teammate tell him that he can slow up if the ball ended up foul and uncaught.

OTOH, consider R1 who goes halfway on the hit, and is waiting to see if the ball is caught or not. If the umpire first gives a fair signal, and then waits to give a catch signal as you said you would, you put the runner at a distinct disadvantage. He's not going to know for sure whether he should hightail it to second or go back to first. In fact, if you first give the fair point, he's probably going to assume the ball was NOT caught, and head to second. Then you come up with the hammer, and R1 is leaning the wrong way.

That's why I think a fair-first-then-catch mechanic is not always appropriate, despite what is taught.
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Old Fri May 03, 2013, 02:04pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert E. Harrison View Post
The mechanic allows the runnners on base the information they need in the order they need it.
Wouldn't the runner primarily care if the ball was caught or not - not whether it was caught on the fair or foul side of the line?

EXAMPLE: R3 at third. No outs. Curving line drive hit toward the right field line. The right fielder dives but it is unclear whether he made the catch. R3 is frozen about 20 feet off the bag at the time. If it's not caught, he can sprint home without returning to the bag. If it is caught, he knows he has to get back and then he can decide whether to tag-up and advance. But the first piece of information he needs is whether the ball is caught or not. I don't see how knowing which side of the line the ball was on is more important.

Last edited by David Emerling; Wed Nov 05, 2014 at 11:07am.
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Old Fri May 03, 2013, 02:08pm
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As a base runner, if I am looking at the umpire as opposed to the ball, I am at a disadvantage anyway. The signal is superfluous. Just like the 'foul tip' signal. Yet we still do it.
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Old Fri May 03, 2013, 02:19pm
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If the runner is tagging up.

Fair or foul is most important. If he is off the base we can certainly give him fair/foul before we have enough information to rule on catch/no catch.
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Old Fri May 03, 2013, 02:51pm
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Originally Posted by RPatrino View Post
As a base runner, if I am looking at the umpire as opposed to the ball, I am at a disadvantage anyway. The signal is superfluous. Just like the 'foul tip' signal. Yet we still do it.
On a shoestring catch, the runner needs to know what the umpire called it, not what he thinks it was.

Naturally, the runner is going to look at the play, but if the catch/no-catch is questionable, his eyes are going to immediately turn to the umpire. He won't give a crap if it is fair or foul at that moment.
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Old Fri May 03, 2013, 03:26pm
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Originally Posted by Manny A View Post
What possible information does a tagging base runner gain when it comes to fair/foul? It shouldn't matter to him; the moment the ball is touched, he's running. He doesn't need to look at the umpire for a fair/foul call. He's taking off, and he'll let his base coach or his teammate tell him that he can slow up if the ball ended up foul and uncaught.

OTOH, consider R1 who goes halfway on the hit, and is waiting to see if the ball is caught or not. If the umpire first gives a fair signal, and then waits to give a catch signal as you said you would, you put the runner at a distinct disadvantage. He's not going to know for sure whether he should hightail it to second or go back to first. In fact, if you first give the fair point, he's probably going to assume the ball was NOT caught, and head to second. Then you come up with the hammer, and R1 is leaning the wrong way.

That's why I think a fair-first-then-catch mechanic is not always appropriate, despite what is taught.
Uh Manny - he can go on first touch - waiting for the actual catch isn't part of the decision.
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Old Fri May 03, 2013, 03:31pm
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Originally Posted by David Emerling View Post
On a shoestring catch, the runner needs to know what the umpire called it, not what he thinks it was.

Naturally, the runner is going to look at the play, but if the catch/no-catch is questionable, his eyes are going to immediately turn to the umpire. He won't give a crap if it is fair or foul at that moment.
That's true whether the ball is in dead center or on the line -- and has nothing to do with the "issue" of whether to signal the fair/foul when it happens.
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Old Fri May 03, 2013, 03:32pm
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Uh Rich,
Read Manny's post again.
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Old Fri May 03, 2013, 03:34pm
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Originally Posted by RPatrino View Post
Just like the 'foul tip' signal. Yet we still do it.
Every time I use the foul tip signal, my mind is saying, "Yes, you idiots, I saw it tip off the bat - so shut up and leave me alone". And I guarantee that if I or a partner neglects to make the signal, and someone steals (or strikes out) on that pitch - one half of the crowd will be yelling, "but Blue - she tipped it!!!"

The signal is self defense more than being actually useful.
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