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Hudson Martin
Hudson Martin

Baseball



Baseball evolved from older bat-and-ball games already being played in England by the mid-18th century. This game was brought by immigrants to North America, where the modern version developed. Baseball's American origins, as well as its reputation as a source of escapism during troubled points in American history such as the American Civil War and the Great Depression, have led the sport to receive the moniker of "America's Pastime"; since the late 19th century, it has been unofficially recognized as the national sport of the United States, though in modern times is considered less popular than other sports, such as American football. In addition to North America, baseball is considered the most popular sport in parts of Central and South America, the Caribbean, and East Asia, particularly in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.




Baseball



In Major League Baseball (MLB), the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, teams are divided into the National League (NL) and American League (AL), each with three divisions: East, West, and Central. The MLB champion is determined by playoffs that culminate in the World Series. The top level of play is similarly split in Japan between the Central and Pacific Leagues and in Cuba between the West League and East League. The World Baseball Classic, organized by the World Baseball Softball Confederation, is the major international competition of the sport and attracts the top national teams from around the world. Baseball was played at the Olympic Games from 1992 to 2008, and was reinstated in 2020.


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.[5]


The number of players on a baseball roster, or squad, varies by league and by the level of organized play. A Major League Baseball (MLB) team has a roster of 25 players with specific roles. A typical roster features the following players:[20]


Most baseball leagues worldwide have the DH rule, including the MLB, Japan's Pacific League, and Caribbean professional leagues, along with major American amateur organizations.[21] The Central League in Japan does not have the rule and high-level minor league clubs connected to National League teams are not required to field a DH.[22] In leagues that apply the designated hitter rule, a typical team has nine offensive regulars (including the DH), five starting pitchers,[23] seven or eight relievers, a backup catcher, and two or three other reserve players.[24][25]


Any baseball game involves one or more umpires, who make rulings on the outcome of each play. At a minimum, one umpire will stand behind the catcher, to have a good view of the strike zone, and call balls and strikes. Additional umpires may be stationed near the other bases, thus making it easier to judge plays such as attempted force outs and tag outs. In MLB, 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.[28]


The evolution of baseball from older bat-and-ball games is difficult to trace with precision. Consensus once held that today's baseball is a North American development from the older game rounders, popular among children in Great Britain and Ireland.[42][43][44] American baseball historian David Block suggests that the game originated in England; recently uncovered historical evidence supports this position. Block argues that rounders and early baseball were actually regional variants of each other, and that the game's most direct antecedents are the English games of stoolball and "tut-ball".[42] The earliest known reference to baseball is in a 1744 British publication, A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, by John Newbery.[45] Block discovered that the first recorded game of "Bass-Ball" took place in 1749 in Surrey, and featured the Prince of Wales as a player.[46] This early form of the game was apparently brought to Canada by English immigrants.[47]


In the mid-1850s, a baseball craze hit the New York metropolitan area,[56] and by 1856, local journals were referring to baseball as the "national pastime" or "national game".[57] A year later, the sport's first governing body, the National Association of Base Ball Players, was formed. In 1867, it barred participation by African Americans.[58] The more formally structured National League was founded in 1876.[59] Professional Negro leagues formed, but quickly folded.[60] In 1887, softball, under the name of indoor baseball or indoor-outdoor, was invented as a winter version of the parent game.[61] The National League's first successful counterpart, the American League, which evolved from the minor Western League, was established in 1893, and virtually all of the modern baseball rules were in place by then.[62][63]


Compared with the present, professional baseball in the early 20th century was lower-scoring, and pitchers were more dominant.[68] The so-called dead-ball era ended in the early 1920s with several changes in rule and circumstance that were advantageous to hitters. Strict new regulations governed the ball's size, shape and composition, along with a new rule officially banning the spitball and other pitches that depended on the ball being treated or roughed-up with foreign substances, resulted in a ball that traveled farther when hit.[69] The rise of the legendary player Babe Ruth, the first great power hitter of the new era, helped permanently alter the nature of the game.[70] In the late 1920s and early 1930s, St. Louis Cardinals general manager Branch Rickey invested in several minor league clubs and developed the first modern farm system.[71] A new Negro National League was organized in 1933; four years later, it was joined by the Negro American League. The first elections to the National Baseball Hall of Fame took place in 1936. In 1939, Little League Baseball was founded in Pennsylvania.[72]


With the historic popular moniker as "America's national pastime", baseball is well established in several other countries as well. As early as 1877, a professional league, the International Association, featured teams from both Canada and the US.[87] While baseball is widely played in Canada and many minor league teams have been based in the country,[88][89] the American major leagues did not include a Canadian club until 1969, when the Montreal Expos joined the National League as an expansion team. In 1977, the expansion Toronto Blue Jays joined the American League.[90]


In 1847, American soldiers played what may have been the first baseball game in Mexico at Parque Los Berros in Xalapa, Veracruz.[91] The first formal baseball league outside of the United States and Canada was founded in 1878 in Cuba, which maintains a rich baseball tradition. The Dominican Republic held its first islandwide championship tournament in 1912.[92] Professional baseball tournaments and leagues began to form in other countries between the world wars, including the Netherlands (formed in 1922), Australia (1934), Japan (1936), Mexico (1937), and Puerto Rico (1938).[93] The Japanese major leagues have long been considered the highest quality professional circuits outside of the United States.[94]


The English football club, Aston Villa, were the first British baseball champions winning the 1890 National League of Baseball of Great Britain.[98][99] The 2020 National Champions were the London Mets. Other European countries have seen professional leagues; the most successful, other than the Dutch league, is the Italian league, founded in 1948.[100] In 2004, Australia won a surprise silver medal at the Olympic Games.[101] The Confédération Européene de Baseball (European Baseball Confederation), founded in 1953, organizes a number of competitions between clubs from different countries. Other competitions between national teams, such as the Baseball World Cup and the Olympic baseball tournament, were administered by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) from its formation in 1938 until its 2013 merger with the International Softball Federation to create the current joint governing body for both sports, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC).[102] Women's baseball is played on an organized amateur basis in numerous countries.[103]


After being admitted to the Olympics as a medal sport beginning with the 1992 Games, baseball was dropped from the 2012 Summer Olympic Games at the 2005 International Olympic Committee meeting. It remained part of the 2008 Games.[104] While the sport's lack of a following in much of the world was a factor,[105] more important was MLB's reluctance to allow its players to participate during the major league season.[106] MLB initiated the World Baseball Classic, scheduled to precede its season, partly as a replacement, high-profile international tournament. The inaugural Classic, held in March 2006, was the first tournament involving national teams to feature a significant number of MLB participants.[107][108] The Baseball World Cup was discontinued after its 2011 edition in favor of an expanded World Baseball Classic.[109]


Baseball has certain attributes that set it apart from the other popular team sports in the countries where it has a following. All of these sports use a clock,[110] play is less individual,[111] and the variation between playing fields is not as substantial or important.[112] The comparison between cricket and baseball demonstrates that many of baseball's distinctive elements are shared in various ways with its cousin sports.[113] 041b061a72


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