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Infield flies and taking a knee

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4 Responses

  1. Shane says:

    This is a bit similar to the intentional miss of a free throw at the end of certain basketball games — where the shooting team is down and the free throw shooter intentionally misses to give his own team a chance to get an offensive rebound. All 4 of your original criteria apply. Although the opposing team has the opportunity to rebound the ball (and thus it weakens the 4th element), the actual decision to intentionally miss the free throw is the shooting player’s alone. Your proposed 5th element also would apply, because this phenomenon only occurs when the game is genuinely in dispute.

    But it seems that clock management strategies are quite common towards the end of games. In the basketball context, in addition to the free throw situation, you have intentional fouls towards the end where you give up free throw opportunities (especially against a low percentage free throw shooters) for a larger amount of time to run a play on the other end of the court. As you mentioned, football has quite a few of these opportunities to trade yards for time. In the extreme case, a team may even run back to their own end zone, giving up a safety, instead of taking a knee, giving up the points in order to eat up the last seconds of the game.

    Still, intuitively, the clock management tactics seem fundamentally different from the IFR. Clock management tactics only occur towards the end of the game, and are largely understood to be part of what coaches do. Maybe the existence of similar tradeoffs being made throughout the game makes these particular basketball/football examples feel different from the IFR.

  2. It’s not who gets to choose the strategy, but whether the opposing team can do anything to counter it. With the intentional miss, the defensive team can rebound the basketball and/or play good defense on the ensuing shot. The runners in an infield fly situation have no such option.

  3. Jim Darling says:

    There’s another important difference between the IFR and taking a knee/intentionally missing a free throw. With the IFR, neither team makes a conscious choice to put themselves in a situation where it may be invoked, and the umpire makes a judgment call that determines the final outcome. It’s that combination of a chance occurrence and umpire discretion that produces controversy.

    By the way, there’s another situation in baseball that has all four features you identify but is not subject to special rules: intentionally walking a batter.

  4. Jeffrey says:

    I think you answer the in #3 above, or maybe that you are incorrect in thinking that taking a knee meets the criteria of you lay out for the IFR. The intention of a football game is to reach the end of 1 hour of play having scored more points than the opponent, the intention of a baseball game is to score the most runs possible before giving up 27 outs. Therefore a football team is working towards winning the game when it takes a knee precisely according to the rules.

    Another issue is that a football team has larger strategic options to prevent the other team from using the Victory Formation, even if it cannot prevent it’s tactical usage. A team can effectively use it’s timeouts over the course of the game, it can slow the game itself using the running game itself so as not to give the other team the last possession.

    The uniqueness of the IFR is directly related to the uniqueness of baseball, among major American sports, in not having a clock.

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