The Basics of Baseball


Despite a series of blows, from player strikes and free agency to the explosion in television options, baseball continues to hold on to a special place in the American heart. It’s America’s pastime, with a rich history that has often been a barometer of the country’s evolving identity. Yet for all its integrative powers, baseball’s history has been interwoven with and reflective of major social cleavages. Until the early 20th century, middle-class Evangelical Protestants viewed professional baseball with profound suspicion, associating it with ne’er-do-wells, immigrants, working class, drinking, and general rowdiness.

A baseball game is played between two teams, each composed of nine players. The teams switch between batting and fielding in each of nine innings, and the team with the most points at the end of the game wins. Unlike most other team sports, baseball allows for unlimited substitutions for the defensive side.

The basic contest involves a pitcher throwing balls towards home plate, where the catcher for the fielding team waits (in a crouched position) to receive it. The batter stands in one of the three batter’s boxes, facing away from the pitcher and holding a bat.

After each pitch, the umpire calls balls and strikes. A strike is when the batter swings at a ball and misses, while a ball that lands in the field of play or in the hands of a teammate is a foul ball.

Once a batter is out, the opposing team takes its turn at bat. Each inning is split into halves, with the away team batting in the top of the half and the home team batting in the bottom of the half. The batting team’s turn ends once the fielding team gets three players of the batting team out.

If the batter is successful in hitting a ball, that makes him a runner. Runners can only advance around the bases in order and must touch all of them before returning to their original base. If a runner touches home before the fielding team returns the ball to the pitcher, he becomes a safe runner and is awarded a run. A run can also be scored if a batter hits the ball into the air and it reaches the fence beyond home plate before being caught by a fielder.

Choosing the right streaming service for watching MLB games can depend on your preferred baseball team and location. The best services will offer local MLB teams on their regional sports networks, along with a selection of nationally televised games. For example, AT&T TV NOW carries FOX, TBS, ESPN, and FS1 — and a good number of national out-of-market games.