Did you know that baseball is the oldest professional team sport in America? You might know little about this sport at the moment but this very fact is enough to give you something to brag about around your friends when they start shouting random stuff like ‘Home run!’ or ‘Strike out!’ in the middle of a game. It’s also a good place to start for a beginner looking to gain access into a remarkable world of baseball and Major League Baseball (MLB) as its proud representative. So what should a baseball beginner know about this sport? If you stick with us and read through this article, you’ll find out all the essentials to give you a solid footing into baseball.
History of the League
With roots dating back to the Civil War, baseball hit the headlines in the 1860s when the game’s first governing body was founded. The National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP) marked its 12-year existence as an amateur organization with more than 400 clubs under its wing.
It is 1989 which to this date is taken as a founding year for professional baseball. It is the year the first-ever pro club – Cincinnati Red Stockings – was formed. What followed next was the split of NABBP into two different fractions – an amateur and a professional organization. Given its long and rich history, baseball went through many different stages through time. Baseball survived through war(s), played a crucial part in crushing the racial antagonism through the introduction of black baseball players and expanded throughout the country – and ultimately the world.
Baseball and MLB as an organization with it stand as the third favorite sport with the new-age demographics behind NFL and NCAA. Reports from research conducted on a group of 39 million people show that MLB is the most family-oriented sport in the United States which is to suggest baseball has no reason to worry about its future.
MLB Organizational Facts
Major League Baseball is governed by a document created in 1876 – the MLB Constitution – all structures of the organization still oblige to this date. At the helm of the MLB sits the Commissioner of Baseball, who is responsible for hiring and maintaining the sport’s day-to-day functioning.
Structurally beneath the Commissioner, baseball is operated by five other executives – president, chief communications officer, chief legal officer, chief financial officer and chief baseball officer.
From the sports point of view, there is a total of 30 teams playing in the MLB, only one of which is from Canada. Teams are split into two different leagues – National League (NL) and American League (AL) – each consisting of 15 teams. Leagues are further broken down into three divisions – East, Central and West.
Each baseball team in the MLB has its own farm system. This is a series of minor-league teams which are used for player development and – as the word says itself – for farming the future hopes of baseball. Baseball is such a competitive sport, deeply embedded within the country’s culture, that all teams have a network of scouts scouring the amateur baseball scene all around the globe hoping to find new talents.
MLB Schedule: Key Dates and Games
Major League Baseball is one of the most extensive competitions in the world from the standpoint of the season structure. The regular MLB season consists of no less than 162 games. The season would typically begin in April and last through to October.
Most of the MLB games are played within a team’s league. The schedule usually revolves around three-game series spread across home matches and road trips which are normally grouped together to avoid long and frequent travels. During the regular season, teams normally play games within a league, while interleague play – with teams from the National League playing against sides from the American League – also occurs during the middle third of the season. Interleague play is necessary due to the odd number of teams in each league. During a regular season, each team from the MLB will have played 20 interleague games.
Teams across all divisions and respective leagues compete for the top-spot in their division which puts them through into the championship playoff. A wild card will be awarded to the team which finishes the regular part of the season with the best record among all non-winners. Winners of the league championship series (in each league) will compete for the coveted MLB title in the World Series – which is a globally recognized event.
How It’s Played
The beauty of this sport lies in the fact baseball can be played virtually everywhere a diamond shape can be traced – on a beach, a muddy hut, driveways or what not. When it comes to the MLB, it’s usually billion-dollar stadiums that host baseball matches.
A baseball team is led by an on-field manager who is followed by his coaching staff. A general manager has an important role to play in any baseball team, as well, knowing that he/she is in charge of putting up the team, drafting and trading players, sorting out their contracts and other off-field responsibilities.
Baseball teams consist of 25 players. There are nine different positions on the baseball field – with the exception of the American League where there is a tenth role. We have pitchers, Catchers, First Base, Second Base, Third Base, Short Stop, Left Field, Center Field, Right Field and the DH – Designated Hitter – in AL.
Baseball games are officiated by four umpires. One is found behind the plate – the place where a player hitting the ball (batter) is located – and he/she calls the balls and strikes. Other umpires are placed one on each base (three in total).
Baseball games are split into nine innings. Top of the Inning is the part of the game during which the visiting side is given the opportunity to score runs. Its opposite is called Bottom of the Inning when the home side gets their shot. If a team fails to strike the ball in three attempts and performs an Out, half-innings conclude. In rare cases, nine-inning matches can proceed into the tenth inning, when a game is tied.
The aim of the game is to circle the bases safely without getting outed – by either missing the hit or when a rival player catches the ball before you reach a base and get safe. The easiest and also the most popular way to score in baseball is Home Run. It is a point scored when the ball gets hit out of the field boundaries and into the stands – or simply if the batter gets enough time to reach home safely in that one play (Inside-the-Park Home Run).
Whether you were only looking for an excuse to put on a foam finger or you’re really getting into baseball, the review above is hoped to give you all basic information you need about this formidable sport. Baseball is a genuine American sport and as such boasts great tradition and history. It definitely deserves your attention despite the fact Canada only has one representative in the MLB.