Baseball Explained


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For international students trying to understand how baseball works and why Americans are obsessed with it.

Baseball Explained

  1. 1. Baseball Explained Alan R. Cordova
  2. 2. Geography <ul><li>Baseball ‘diamond’: three bases and home plate </li></ul><ul><li>Infield and outfield; fair and foul territory </li></ul><ul><li>Nine players (location): Pitcher (mound), catcher (behind home plate), first baseman (infield right side), second baseman (infield right-center), shortstop (infield left-center), third baseman (infield left side), left fielder (outfield left side), center fielder (outfield center), right fielder (outfield right side) </li></ul><ul><li>Four umpires (referees): Home plate, first base, second base, third base </li></ul>Source: Wikipedia Source:
  3. 3. How the Game Works <ul><li>One team bats, one team in the field </li></ul><ul><li>Each side gets to bat until three outs are reached, then the roles are reversed </li></ul><ul><li>Each pair of batting opportunities is an inning, and there are 9 innings* in a game. </li></ul><ul><li>The team with the most points (runs) at the end of 9 innings wins the game. </li></ul>* Unless the score is tied at the end of 9 innings, in which case the teams play until an inning ends with one team ahead.
  4. 4. How does a player get ‘out’? <ul><li>Batting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strike out: Three strikes before contact or four balls </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fly out: Batted ball is caught before it hits the ground </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Running </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tag out: Fielder has ball in glove, touches runner </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Force out: Fielder touches base before runner reaches it (most common type of out) </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. How the Game Works (Part 2) <ul><li>To score a run, a batter/baserunner must touch all three bases and home plate without getting out. </li></ul><ul><li>When a batter/baserunner is touching the base, he cannot be tagged out. </li></ul><ul><li>Batters appear in order; once all nine have batted, the first one bats. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Pitching <ul><li>Pitcher starts with the ball, throws to catcher. </li></ul><ul><li>Batter can either swing or let the ball go by. </li></ul><ul><li>Swinging strike: Batter swings and misses -> strike </li></ul><ul><li>Called strike: Batter does not swing, but the home plate umpire determines that the pitch was in the strike zone (i.e. that it would have been easy to hit) -> strike </li></ul><ul><li>Ball: Batter does not swing, and the ball is outside the strike zone -> ball </li></ul><ul><li>Foul ball: Batted ball outside of fair territory; </li></ul><ul><li>if the batter has less than two strikes, it counts as one strike; if he has two strikes, nothing happens. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Outcome <ul><li>Strikeout: Batter gets to three strikes </li></ul><ul><li>Walk: Batter receives four balls before three strikes – automatic pass to first base. </li></ul><ul><li>Fly ball: Hit high in the air, fielders try to catch the ball to get the batter out </li></ul><ul><li>Ground ball: Ball bounces off the ground, infielders try to force the runner out at first base. </li></ul>
  8. 8. If the batter hits the ball into fair territory… <ul><li>Infielders try to force the batter out by throwing the ball to the first baseman. </li></ul><ul><li>Outfielders try to limit the number of bases that a batter can cover by returning the ball to the infield as quickly as possible. </li></ul><ul><li>Baserunners attempt to advance as far as possible without risking getting out. Runners are safe (cannot be called out) when they are touching any of the bases. </li></ul>
  9. 9. … just when you thought it was complex enough! <ul><li>Home run: If the batter hits the ball out of the field in fair territory, he (and all runners then on base) get to circle the bases and score runs. </li></ul><ul><li>Double play: If there is a baserunner on first, fielders can force the runner out before relaying the ball to first to force out the batter. </li></ul><ul><li>Stolen base: A baserunner on first can attempt to run to second base while the pitcher is throwing; if he is not tagged out before he reaches second, he has ‘stolen’ the base. </li></ul><ul><li>If a fly ball is caught, all base runners must return to their original base (‘tagging up’) – after that, they may try to run to additional bases while avoiding being tagged out. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Order of the Game <ul><li>National Anthem </li></ul><ul><li>First Pitch </li></ul><ul><li>Innings 1-6 </li></ul><ul><li>1 st half of 7 th inning </li></ul><ul><li>Seventh Inning Stretch (‘Take me Out to the Ballgame’) </li></ul><ul><li>2 nd half of 7 th inning </li></ul><ul><li>Innings 8-9 </li></ul>
  11. 11. Strategy <ul><li>Teams attempt to advance one baserunner per inning through ‘sacrifice’ hits (where the batter intentionally puts himself out in order to distract the fielders’ attention. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sacrifice fly: A batter will hit a fly ball to a deep part of the ballpark, giving the runner time to ‘tag up’ (touch his original base) and advance before the fielders can relay the ball and tag him out. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sacrifice bunt: A batter will deliberately force the ball onto the infield towards first base, forcing fielders to choose between an easy out at first or a more difficult out elsewhere. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Starting batters will be substituted with a ‘pinch hitter’ when another player has a better probability of getting a hit. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Things to Remember <ul><li>3 strikes=1 out; 3 outs= 1 / 2 inning; 9 innings=1 game </li></ul><ul><li>Defensive team has the ball </li></ul><ul><li>No time limit – only three outs/inning </li></ul><ul><li>Batters hit, become baserunners, run counterclockwise until they are out or touch home plate. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Take me out to the ball-game/Take me out to the crowd/Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack/I don’t care if I never get back/For it’s root, root, root for the home team/If they don’t win it’s a shame/For it’s one…two…three strikes you’re out at the old ball-game!’ </li></ul>
  13. 13. Encarta’s “10 Reasons Baseball is a Weird Sport” <ul><li>If a batter fails two-thirds of the time, they're still considered an excellent batter. It's too bad this standard isn't applied to everything else in life. </li></ul><ul><li>It is legal to &quot;steal&quot; in this game. This is, perhaps, a questionable example for children. </li></ul><ul><li>If you aren't such a good hitter, you can have a pinch hitter bat for you. If you aren't such a fast runner, you can have someone—a pinch runner—come in and run for you. At what point, you might wonder, is a team entirely comprised of &quot;pinch&quot; players? </li></ul><ul><li>There's a rule preventing pitchers from spitting on the ball. They can spit anywhere else they like, apparently. </li></ul><ul><li>If a batter walks with the bases loaded, he is credited with an RBI (Run Batted In). That's right: even though he didn't hit the ball. </li></ul><ul><li>The game is played on dirt and grass, but if the ball gets dirty, it is replaced with a new clean ball. </li></ul><ul><li>If a batter accidentally hits the catcher when swinging, it's the catcher's fault, even if the catcher gets injured. The batter is awarded a base. The catcher gets an apology, if he's lucky. </li></ul><ul><li>The coaches and managers wear the same uniforms as the players. </li></ul><ul><li>When a pitcher walks a batter, the batter jogs to first base. Incongruous, but it is a nice show of effort. </li></ul><ul><li>The 7th-inning stretch makes baseball the only sport where spectators must take part in calisthenics. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Baseball Statistics <ul><li>Pitching </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ERA (Earned Run Average) : Mean number of runs per 9 innings pitched (how many runs the pitcher would allow if he pitched a complete game. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>K (Strikeouts) : The number of batters that the pitcher has struck out (usually in a game) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Batting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>AVG (Batting Average) : Number of hits / Number of plate appearances </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>RBI (Runs Batted In) : Number of runners who have scored due to a batter’s action </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>BB (Walks or Base-on-Balls) : The number of walks issued by a pitcher (usually in a game) </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. National Pasttime Source:
  16. 16. Baseball idioms in American English <ul><li>“ to cover your bases” : to make sure that you have taken care of all of the details </li></ul><ul><li>“ curveball” : an unexpected question, comment or request </li></ul><ul><li>“ play hardball” : act tough in negotiations </li></ul><ul><li>“ off base” : misguided, mistaken </li></ul><ul><li>“ in a pickle” : in trouble </li></ul><ul><li>“ to give a rain check” : to promise to make up for a cancelled event at a later date </li></ul><ul><li>“ right off the bat” : initially </li></ul><ul><li>“ to step up to the plate” : to rise to an occasion or take the initiative </li></ul><ul><li>“ to touch base” : ensure that everyone has the same information </li></ul>
  17. 17. Today’s Game (5/24/08) <ul><li>Starting pitcher: Carlos Silva (RHP, 3-3, 4.91 ERA) </li></ul>Starting Pitcher: Mike Mussina, RHP (6-4, 4.11 ERA) .262 Yuniesky Betancourt SS .291 Wladimir Balentien RF .217 Kenji Johjima C .333 Jeremy Reed LF .206 Richie Sexson 1B .291 Raul Ibanez DH .294 Jose Lopez 2B .246 Adrian Beltre 3B .294 Ichiro Suzuki CF Batting Average Name Position .262 Melky Cabrera CF .205 Jose Molina C .207 Robinson Cano 2B .182 Shelley Duncan RF .205 Jason Giambi 1B .294 Alex Rodriguez 3B .302 Hideki Matsui DH .299 Derek Jeter SS .268 Johnny Damon LF Batting Average Name Position
  18. 18. Yankee Stadium <ul><li>Built in 1923 </li></ul><ul><li>Nearly double the normal capacity of stadiums at the time </li></ul><ul><li>“ The House that Ruth Built” </li></ul><ul><li>37 of 84 World Series (championships) played here; Yankees have won 26 </li></ul>
  19. 19. Play ball!