If one is unfamiliar with the game of baseball, or variations thereof, such as softball, little league tee-ball, or even kickball, there are probably plenty of phrases tossed around, on the field, during the game, that may sound completely foreign, such as, "(the) play's at any base", or "call the ball!" These bits of conversation on the field, often called "chatter", serve to communicate strategy and reinforce fundamentals. "Two outs, run on anything" is one of these. It is a bit of basic strategy that examines the "risk/reward" payoff for a team at bat
Speaking of fundamentals, there are some baseball essentials that come into play, regarding this terminology:
- In baseball, a team on offense, that is, a team who is batting, gets three "outs" per "inning". Outs can occur in a variety of ways.
- Any ball caught directly in the air by the opposing team, that is to say, a ball that has not touched the ground, will count as an "out". Furthermore, runners cannot immediately advance upon a ball being caught; if a runner is found to be off the base after a ball is caught, having left beforehand, he can be forced out by having the ball thrown to the base at which he was residing.
- A player on base must advance to the next base upon the ball being hit, if there is another player on the base behind him. Likewise, if there is no runner behind him, he is not forced to advance.
These things said - in baseball, if a ball is hit relatively high into the air, perhaps a high, arcing trajectory as opposed to a more straightforward one, it is much more likely to be caught. Thus, runners who are on base will generally wait for the baseball to conclude its travel, if it appears it will be caught -- they do not want to be caught off-guard, halfway between the bases, frantically trying to return to their respective bases. If the ball is hit upon a lower trajectory, on the other hand, the likelihood that it will be caught is much lower, and thus the players will immediately begin to advance, if it is a force play, or if they feel they can safely advance anyway.
However... when there are already two outs for a given team, and a ball is hit, there is less at risk in trying to advance. After all:
- If the ball is hit upon a low trajectory, one would normally run anyway, and
- If the ball is hit upon a high trajectory, and is caught, that would end up being the team's third out anyway.
Therefore, there is little lost in trying to advance to the next base, given the circumstances. Hence, when there are players on base, they will often be reminded of said circumstances via a bit of chatter, perhaps from the dugout or more likely from the base coach of, "two outs, run on anything".
Generally, the only time this advice is not offered is when a baserunner is on base but does not have any runners on base(s) preceeding his. In this case, said player will sometimes err to the side of caution when low-trajectory, yet easily fielded ball is in his general area on the field -- although, if a team is desparate for scoring, they might be willing to take that risk. Regardless, similar strategies are nonetheless followed if the ball is hit into the air -- again, a ball likely to be caught would be the third out anyway, so it is worth the risk in trying to advance.
Admittedly, this is a most verbose method of explaining this bit of baseball lingo, but during the game, decisions on whether to advance or stay on base, are made within a split second. Reinforcing the situation to a player on base by simply reminding him to "run on anything" helps keep him aware as to what his action should be, the moment the ball is hit -- however trivial this bit of advice may sound.