The game of baseball is played between two opposing teams of nine players. Each team alternates between batting and fielding and the side with the most points after 9 innings is declared the winner. In order to score a run, a player must touch all four bases, the first base, second base, third base and home plate. Runners can also advance to the next base when the ball is hit in the air and caught by a fielder without the ball bouncing. This is known as “tagging up”.
The batting team consists of the batter, his or her bat and the other members of the batting line-up. The pitcher, who is stationed behind home plate, pitches the ball and the catcher receives any balls that are not successfully hit by the batter. The catcher is one of the most highly specialised positions in baseball, with defensive ability considered more important than hitting skills. The four fielders who are stationed inside the diamond and play close to the bases are called infielders and are the first baseman, the second baseman, the shortstop and the third baseman.
A batter can be dismissed in a number of ways including getting three strikes (missing the ball altogether), being caught out or ‘putting out’ a runner. A strike is when the batter misses the ball and it does not bounce within the’strike zone’ which extends to about 17 inches in width around home plate. A ball can also be “flied out” when a fielder catches it in the air without it bouncing. The runner is then out and cannot return to his or her previous base. A runner can only be forced out on the same base twice in a row unless he or she is tagged before advancing to another base, or if the trailing runner is touched while attempting to tag him or her.
The ‘putting out’ of a runner can also be done by simply touching the runner with the ball whilst he or she is not standing on a base. In fact a fielder can even do this when the runner is not standing on a base and it is known as ‘tag out’.
Once the batting team have got three players out then an inning ends and the fielding team take over batting. This continues until the batting team get all of their players out or the game reaches nine innings. A game can also be ended early if both sides agree to end it. This is usually done for safety, weather and security reasons or if a tie is inevitable. The decision to end the game early is usually made by the manager of the winning team. This is to prevent players becoming injured or exhausted. In recent years there has been a move to reduce the amount of time spent playing games for this reason. However, the sport is still an extremely popular and highly competitive one.