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Okay, I was asked this question and don't have the answer. If a pitch is in the dirt in MLB, quite often the umpire will take it out of play. Then how come when a hard grounder is hit into the dirt it remains in play? Beats the heck out of me...does anyone know why?
The key word in your question is the word "PITCH". In the professional game, sometimes an
umpire will take a ball out of play - right after the pitch hits the dirt, so the ball has no IMMEDIATE
chance of having a foreign substance on, that is ... dirt. In addition, watch the plate umpire inspect the ball.
He's looking for any substance that might have been put on the ball by the pitcher because of the
ball's sudden drop, bite or other movement prior to diving in the dirt. Also, if a ball is "fouled" in the dirt
right in front of home plate - again, he'll inspect the ball.
If the ball is not fit for play - out it goes, usually a practice ball for the home club. BUT, if the only
thing that's on the ball is a tiny bit of soil after bouncing off the dirt, watch closely if the plate umpire
simply rubs his hands around the ball, then tucks it away in his ball bag.
I've had pitchers that would deliberately toss a ball back, wanting that one ball that dove in the dirt
just a bit. When they got it, they knew it. Their pitch selection seemed to hone in on small part of
their inventory - mostly breaking and off-speed stuff. And a smart bench coach would pick up on that
Darn good question - I honestly can't remember anyone asking that one before?