Monday, May 14, 2018

Baseball Culture

In baseball, teams will differ among leagues and organized play. The Major League Baseball teams have 25 player active rosters. In such a system, there are eight position players with the catcher, four infielders, and three outfielders who all play on a regular basis. There are five starting pitchers who make up the team’s pitching rotation or starting rotation.  There are six relief pitchers including one specialist closer (who make up the teams’ bullpen. It is named for the off field area where pitchers warm up). There are one backup or substitute catcher, 2 backup infielders, 2 backup outfielders, and one specialist pinch hitter (or a second backup catcher, or a seventh reliever). Most baseball leagues worldwide have the DH rule including MLB's American League, Japan's Pacific League, and Caribbean professional leagues, along with major American amateur organizations.  The Central League in Japan and the National League do not have the rule, and high-level minor league clubs connected to National League teams are not required to field a DH. In the American League and others with the DH rule, there will usually be nine offensive regulars (including the DH), five starting pitchers, seven or eight relievers, a backup catcher and two or three other reserves; the need for late-inning pinch-hitters is reduced by the DH. The manager is the head coach of a team. He or she oversees the team’s major strategic decisions. He or she can establish the starting rotation, set up the lineup, establish the batting order before each game, and make substitutions in the game. He or she can bring in relief pitchers.   Managers are typically assisted by two or more coaches. They may have specialized responsibilities, such as working with players on hitting, fielding, pitching, or strength and conditioning. At most levels of organized play, two coaches are stationed on the field when the team is at bat: the first base coach and third base coach, occupying designated coaches' boxes just outside the foul lines, assist in the direction of baserunners when the ball is in play, and relay tactical signals from the manager to batters and runners during pauses in play. In contrast to many other team sports, baseball managers and coaches generally wear their team's uniforms. Coaches must be in uniform in order to be allowed on the field to confer with players during a game. Umpires exist in baseball to make a ruling on an outcome of each play. Some can stand behind the catcher to see the strike zone. He or she can call balls and strikes. They can exist on other bases too to judge force outs and tag outs. In Major League Baseball, four umpires are used for each game, one near each base. In the playoffs, six umpires are used: one at each base and two in the outfield along the foul lines.

The game of baseball is played between 2 teams. Each team has nine players. They take turns playing offense and defense. The goal is the team with the most scores or runs wins. The offense uses batting and base running and defense uses pitching and fielding. At each inning, each team takes turns at batting and fielding. The pair of turns is called an inning. Nine innings exist in each baseball game. 7 innings exist in the high school and in doubleheaders (which means a set of 2 baseball games played between the same two team on the same day in front of the same crowd. In addition, the term is often used unofficially to refer to a pair of games played by a team in a single day, but in front of different crowds and not in immediate succession) in college plus minor leagues. Six Innings are found at the Little League level. One team—customarily the visiting team—bats in the top, or first half, of every inning. The other team—customarily the home team—bats in the bottom, or second half, of every inning. The goal of the game is to score more points (runs) than the other team. The players on the team at bat attempt to score runs by circling or completing a tour of the four bases set at the corners of the square-shaped baseball diamond. A player bats at home plate and must proceed counterclockwise to first base, second base, third base, and back home to score a run. The team in the field attempts to prevent runs from scoring and record outs, which remove opposing players from offensive action until their turn in their team's batting order comes up again. When three outs are recorded, the teams switch roles for the next half-inning. If the score of the game is tied after nine innings, extra innings are played to resolve the contest. Many amateur games, particularly unorganized ones, involve different numbers of players and innings. The game is played on a field whose primary boundaries, the foul lines, extend forward from home plate at 45-degree angles. The 90-degree area within the foul lines is referred to as fair territory; the 270-degree area outside them is foul territory. The part of the field enclosed by the bases and several yards beyond them is the infield; the area farther beyond the infield is the outfield. In the middle of the infield is a raised pitcher's mound, with a rectangular rubber plate (the rubber) at its center. The outer boundary of the outfield is typically demarcated by a raised fence, which may be of any material and height. The fair territory between home plate and the outfield boundary is baseball's field of play, though significant events can take place in foul territory, as well. The ball, the bat, and the glove or the mitt are used as tools in baseball. One baseball is about the size of an adult’s fist being around 9 inches in circumference.  It has a rubber or cork center, wound in yarn and covered in white cowhide, with red stitching. The bat is a hitting tool, traditionally made of a single, solid piece of wood. Other materials are now commonly used for nonprofessional games. It is a hard round stick, about 2.5 inches (6.4 centimeters) in diameter at the hitting end, tapering to a narrower handle and culminating in a knob. Bats used by adults are typically around 34 inches (86 centimeters) long, and not longer than 42 inches (106 centimeters). The glove is made up of leather being webbed between the fingers. Batters used protective helmets all of the time. The pitcher plays and each inning ends when the offensive team has 3 outs. The shortstop is between the second and third base. The left, center, and right fielders exist to prevent fly balls from leaving the field. A player who reaches first base safely on a hit is credited with a single. If a player makes it to second base safely as a direct result of a hit, it is a double; third base, a triple. If the ball is hit in the air within the foul lines over the entire outfield (and outfield fence, if there is one), or otherwise safely circles all the bases, it is a home run: the batter and any runners on base may all freely circle the bases, each scoring a run. This is the most desirable result for the batter. A player who reaches base due to a fielding mistake is not credited with a hit—instead, the responsible fielder is charged with an error. Three strikes make a strike out. Four balls is a walk. If the designated hitter (DH) rule is in effect, each team has a tenth player whose sole responsibility is to bat (and run). The DH takes the place of another player—almost invariably the pitcher—in the batting order, but does not field. Thus, even with the DH, each team still has a batting order of nine players and a fielding arrangement of nine players.

One major baseball strategy is to allow team to deal with hitters. Usually, right handed batters are usually more successful against left hand pitchers. Left handed batters usually are more successful against right handed pitchers. So, managers will use left handed batters and right handed batters to match up a pitcher based on how he or she pitches the ball. Matchups exist all of the time. With a team that has the lead in the late innings, a manager may remove a starting position player—especially one whose turn at bat is not likely to come up again—for a more skillful fielder. A pitcher during the game can use the fastball, the changeup, the curve ball and the slider to handle a batter constantly. Pitchers and catchers use hand signs in order for them to know what to throw and how to throw the ball. Pickoff attempts, however, are subject to rules that severely restrict the pitcher's movements before and during the pickoff attempt. Violation of any one of these rules could result in the umpire calling a balk against the pitcher, which permits any runners on base to advance one base with impunity. If an attempted stolen base is anticipated, the catcher may call for a pitchout, a ball thrown deliberately off the plate, allowing the catcher to catch it while standing and throw quickly to a base. Facing a batter with a strong tendency to hit to one side of the field, the fielding team may employ a shift, with most or all of the fielders moving to the left or right of their usual positions. With a runner on third base, the infielders may play in, moving closer to home plate to improve the odds of throwing out the runner on a ground ball, though a sharply hit grounder is more likely to carry through a drawn-in infield. Some players attempt to run bases defending on the hitter and other aspects of the game.

Hall of Fame Baseball Legends are very numerous. One was Babe Ruth who lived from 1895 to 1948. He was one of the greatest hitters in baseball history. He was a slugging outfielder for the New York Yankees and then played as a left handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He played first for the Boston Red Sox, then for the NY Yankees from 1920-1934, and ended with the Boston Braves in 1935. He was one of the first five people to be part of the Baseball Hall of Fame just one year after he retired on 1936. He was a 2 time All-Star. He won the World Series seven times (in 1915, 1916, 1918, 1923, 1927, 1928, and 1932). He was an AL batting champion in 1924. He was a 12 time home run leader and he was part of the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. He had 714 home runs, 2,873 hits, and a batting average of .342 which was excellent especially back then. He supported American efforts to defeat the Nazis during World War II and he passed away of esophageal cancer. Babe Ruth was an early American superstar athlete. Hank Aaron won more home runs than any player in American history. Hank Aaron played for years in the MLB and in the Negro League. He was born in Mobile, Alabama. He played as a right fielder. He played for the Atlanta Braves and the Milwaukee Brewers. He was a 25 time All-Star. He was a MLB World Series champion in 1957. He was a 2 time NL batting champion and he was a 4 time NL RBI leader. He had 755 home runs and runs batted in by the number of 2,297. Aaron received death threats before he broke Babe Ruth’s previous records, but Hank Aaron broke it courageously. Recently, Hank Aaron has expressed support for Kaepernick's cause of fighting racial injustice and the evil of police brutality. 

Willie Mays was one of the greatest players in baseball history. Today, he is 87 year old. He was born in Westfield, Alabama. When he was in high school, he played football and basketball as well. Willie Mays played in the Negro League before he came into the MLB. He played for both the San Francisco Giants and the New York Mets too in his later career. By 1954, he won the World Series. Mays is known as a man who traveled the world, is a people person, and has a blessed life. He continues to motivate others and inspire present and future generations. He is a Hall of Famer and a man whose accomplishments always make the point that baseball is a game with monumental reach. Roberto Clemente was one of the most influential baseball Hall of Famers in history. He was born in Puerto Rico and was an inspiration to baseball fans. He was an American Afro-Latino who was in the Marines too. He was a famous right fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, becoming the first Latin American and Caribbean player to be enshrined. Clemente was an All-Star for twelve seasons, playing in fifteen All-Star Games. He was the NL Most Valuable Player in 1966, the NL batting leader in 1961, 1964, 1965, and 1967, and a Gold Glove Award winner for twelve consecutive seasons from 1961 through 1972. His batting average was over .300 for thirteen seasons and he had 3,000 hits during his major league career. He also played in two World Series championships. Clemente is the first Latin American and Caribbean player to help win a World Series as a starter (1960), to receive an NL MVP Award (1966), and to receive a World Series MVP Award (1971). Clemente was married in 1964. Later, he and his wife had three children. He was involved in charity work in Latin American and Caribbean countries during the off-seasons, often delivering baseball equipment and food to those in need. He experienced racism and he always stood up heroically for humanity. On December 31, 1972, he died in a plane crash while en route to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He was 38 years old. Roberto Clemente was not only a baseball player. He was an activist too. He will always be remembered.

The cultural impact of baseball in America and worldwide is huge. Baseball has grown large in America. Parks, playgrounds, and other stadiums harbor strong representations of baseball activities. Cuba, Japan, and the Dominican Republic have a powerful baseball culture too. The city of San Pedro de Macoris has been the major leagues’ large source of talent from the Dominican Republic from the 1980's. In 2017, 83 of the 868 players on MLB Opening Day rosters (and disabled lists) were from the country of the Dominican Republic. Among other Caribbean countries and territories, a combined 97 MLB players were born in Venezuela, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. Hall-of-Famer Roberto Clemente remains one of the greatest national heroes in Puerto Rico's history. While baseball has long been the island's primary athletic pastime, its once well-attended professional winter league has declined in popularity since 1990, when young Puerto Rican players began to be included in the major leagues' annual first-year player draft. In Asia, baseball is among the most popular sports in Japan and South Korea. Today, many blue collar Americans love baseball. Attendance of baseball games is very high.  In 2008, Major League Baseball set a revenue record of $6.5 billion, matching the NFL's revenue for the first time in decades. A new MLB revenue record of more than $10 billion was set in 2017. Baseball cards existed since the late 19th century and they continue today. When I was child during the 1990’s, I had baseball cards. Fantasy baseball has been played by adults in America and worldwide too. Movies, plays, and commercial readily feature baseball players or the culture of baseball in general.

By Timothy

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