The Game of Baseball

The game of baseball is a team sport that requires the coordination of players on two teams. Each team consists of nine players. The teams swap roles, batting and fielding, each inning of a game. The team that has the most points at the end of the game wins.

The pitcher attempts to get the batter out by throwing three pitches which result in strikes, while fielders attempt to catch a batted ball before it hits the ground. If the ball is caught, or if a player on a base touches another base before the runner reaches home plate, that player is out and the next hitter takes his place. The catcher must keep his eye on the ball at all times, and is responsible for calling balls and strikes.

While the game has huge unifying powers, it is also entwined with major social and cultural cleavages. In the decades before World War II, middle-class Evangelical Protestants viewed baseball with considerable suspicion; they associated the sport with ne’er-do-wells, immigrants and working class Americans, along with alcohol and gambling. Baseball’s integration was a tremendous challenge that ultimately transformed the game.

Before a game begins the visiting team’s manager chooses the order in which his players will bat; this order is known as the lineup. Once the game starts, a batting team must follow its lineup throughout the entire game.

The batting team’s goal is to score runs by running around all of the bases in the order they are placed in, starting at home plate and ending at home when the batter scores a run. Once a hitter puts the ball into play (by hitting it), runners advance to the next base in the order they are placed, except for when the bases are loaded. If the hitter successfully hits the ball over a fence in the outfield, that is a home run and that is worth four runs for his team.

Throughout the regular season, teams strive to win their division title and finish as the best runner up in their league; if there is a tie, then a one-game playoff (venue determined by tossing a coin) is held. If the winner of the playoff is still not a champion, then they are awarded the wild card spot.

Professional baseball is a multi-billion dollar industry that depends on the continuous support of fans, who come to games in person, watch them on television and radio, and buy merchandise. In addition, the league earns money through licensing and other avenues. The most important revenue stream, however, comes from in-person ticket sales and concessions at games. This income, coupled with revenue from advertising and stadium rentals, allows the MLB to attract top talent, which in turn translates into winning seasons for its teams. However, these successes can be fragile and unpredictable, as demonstrated by the frequent player strikes, labor strife, a declining audience and increasing competition from other sports, including gridiron football.