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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Baseball for Dummies


I'm writing this article for the person who knows nothing about baseball, the person who doesn't know the difference between the Triple Crown and an unassisted Triple Play. I'm not going to write about the history of baseball so if that's what you want look somewhere else, I'm going to tell you the necessary information so you can sit down on a Saturday afternoon and watch a baseball game. Even if you do know a lot I'm hoping you can learn a little.


Baseball is a bat and ball sport played by 2 teams of 9 players a side. The goal of baseball is to score runs by hitting a ball that is thrown by the pitcher and run around the bases. The bases are arranged on the corners of a 90 foot square called the diamond. Players on the batting team take turns hitting while the fielding team tries to get them out. Once a player on the batting team gets on base he can choose to stop in the hope that a teammate will drive him in. The teams switch between batting and fielding when the fielding team gets 3 outs. Once each team gets 3 outs that is an inning, there are 9 innings in a MLB game. The team with the most runs at the end of the game wins.

Major League Baseball

In the United States and Canada the professional baseball league is called Major League Baseball (MLB.) MLB is divided into 2 leagues, the National League (NL) and the American League (AL) which in turn, are divided into 3 divisions: East, Central and West. To determine the champion of baseball MLB uses an 8 team playoff. The teams that make it are all 6 division winners plus a Wild Card. The wild card is the team with the best record that isn’t a division winner. The first round is best of 5 while the second round and the World Series are best of 7. Each major league team has a farm system of minor league teams at various levels. These teams allow players to gain improve while playing against opponents with a similar skill level.

Equipment and Field

There are 4 basic tools in baseball: the bat, the ball, the mitt and the field

The bat is an offensive tool used by the batter that is either wood or aluminum depending on the league. It is a long stick maybe 35 inches long, 2 inches wide and 35 ounces heavy.

The mitt otherwise known as a glove is worn by the fielding team to assist in catching the ball. Mitts take various shapes and sizes to accommodate the needs of individual positions.

A baseball is about the size of a fist and white with red lacing (Although other colors could be used.)

Baseball is played on a field in which the dimensions vary depending on age. However every field has bases which are arranged on a diamond that offensive payers try to run around counterclockwise. The part of the field closest to the bases is the infield and the part farther away is the outfield.

Game Play

Baseball is played in a series of 9 innings, each of which are divided in to 2 halves, top and bottom. In each half-inning, the offensive team attempts to score runs until three of its players are put out. After the third out, the teams switch roles for the other half of the inning. The home team plays defense first, and so plays defense in the top of every inning and offense in the bottom of every inning. At the beginning of each half-inning, the nine defensive players arrange themselves on the field. One defensive player is called the pitcher and stands at the center of the diamond on a designated spot, called the mound or the rubber. Another defensive player is called the catcher and stands on the other side of home plate from the pitcher. Typically four more players are arranged along the lines between first, second, and third bases, and the other three are in the outfield.

Runs are scored as follows: starting at home plate, each offensive player attempts to earn the right to run to the next base of the diamond, then to touch the base at that corner, continuing on to each following base in order, and finally returning to home, whereupon a run is scored. Often an offensive player will achieve a base but be forced to stop there; on future plays the player may continue to advance, or else be put out.

A play begins with an offensive player called a batter standing at home plate, holding a bat. The batter then waits for the pitcher to throw a pitch (the ball) toward home plate, and attempts to hit the ball with the bat. If the batter hits the ball into play, the batter must drop the bat and begin running toward first base. There are other ways to earn the right to run the bases, such as walks or being hit by a pitched ball. The catcher catches pitches that the batter does not hit (either by choice or simple failure to make contact) and returns them to the pitcher.

If the batter fails to hit a well-pitched ball (one within the strike zone) or if he hits it so that it goes outside of the field of play it is called a strike. However, if the ball is hit over the outfield and exits the field there, it is instead (one type of) a Homerun: the batter and all other offensive players on bases may complete a tour of the bases and score a run.

When a batter begins running, he or she is then referred to as a. Runners attempt to reach a base, where they are safe and may remain there. The runner defensive players attempt to prevent this by putting the runners out using the ball; runners put out must leave the field (returning to the bench or Dugout the location where all the other inactive players and managers observe the game).

There are many ways that the team on defense can get an offensive player out. For the sake of simplicity, only the five most common ways are listed here:

1. The Strikeout: occurs when the batter acquires three strikes before hitting the ball (within the field); the batter never becomes a runner.

2. The Groundout: when the batter hits the ball but a defensive player retrieves it after it has touched the ground and throws it to another defensive player standing on first base before the runner arrives there.

3. The Forceout: occurs when a runner is required to run to advance bases ahead of a teammate's hit but fails to reach it before a defensive player reaches the base with the ball. The "ground out" is actually a special case of "force out."

4. The Flyout: if a defensive player catches a hit ball before it touches the ground, the batter (now a runner) is out (regardless of his location).

5. The Tagout: while between bases, a runner is out if a defensive player touches him with a held ball.

Baseball Statistics

Statistics play an important role in summarizing baseball performance and evaluating players in the sport. Since the flow of baseball has natural breaks to it, the game lends itself to easy record keeping and statistics. This makes comparisons between players' on field performance relatively easy, and therefore gives statistics more importance in baseball than in most other sports. Statistics have been kept for professional baseball since the creation of each league.
boondog is a current member of , and he loves to talk sports. He, especially, loves baseball talk.

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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick