The Basics of Baseball

Baseball is a team sport in which the object is to score more points than the opposing team. Each inning lasts nine minutes, and the game is won when one team has scored more runs than the other. The teams switch back and forth between batting and fielding, and the batting team ends its turn when the defending team records three outs. There are many ways to get players out, including catching a batted ball in the air, fielding it, or throwing the ball to the first base ahead of the runner.

The game was developed in the 19th century, and nationalistic sentiment played a role in making it “America’s Game.” Americans yearned for a game that could be considered their own, rather than a variant of English cricket or a children’s game like rounders. A commission appointed by sporting goods magnate A.G. Spalding concluded that while different variations of the game existed, it owed nothing to England or Germany.

In the current form of the game, a member of the fielding team pitches the ball toward the batter. The batter then stands in one of the batter’s boxes and attempts to hit the ball with a wooden stick called a bat. A catcher for the defensive team waits in a crouched position behind home plate to catch the ball. The batter is not allowed to touch the plate with his hands or feet during any part of a swing.

After the batter hits the ball, he must run around all four bases in order. He scores a run when he does so and touches home plate. The runners then proceed to the next base. If a runner reaches the last base before a player on the other team catches or throws the ball to home plate, that runner is called out. There are several other ways to put a batter or runner out, including a catch in the air, a fielding error, a tag out, or a strikeout.

Today, there are 30 professional baseball teams divided into two leagues, the American and National Leagues. Each league plays 162 regular season games, and the best teams in each division compete to be named a division champion. The league champions and two wild-card teams advance to a playoff series. Those teams play best-of-seven games to determine the world champion, or pennant winner. While most teams in the major leagues are located in North America, there are also professional teams in other countries, particularly Latin America and East Asia. These international teams often employ players from the United States, though some also include non-Americans. There are also amateur and semi-professional leagues that exist in the United States, as well as high school and college baseball.