Portal:Baseball
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Portal:Baseball

The Baseball Portal

Baseball (crop).jpg
Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The goal is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot square, or diamond. Players on one team (the batting team) take turns hitting against the pitcher of the other team (the fielding team), which tries to stop them from scoring runs by getting hitters out in any of several ways. A player on the batting team can stop at any of the bases and later advance via a teammate's hit or other means. The teams switch between batting and fielding whenever the fielding team records three outs. One turn at bat - 3 outs - for each team constitutes an inning; nine innings make up a professional game. The team with the most runs at the end of the game wins.

Evolving from older bat-and-ball games, an early form of baseball was being played in England by the mid-eighteenth century. This game and the related rounders were brought by British and Irish immigrants to North America, where the modern version of baseball developed. By the late nineteenth century, baseball was widely recognized as the national sport of the United States. Baseball on the professional, amateur, and youth levels is now popular in North America, parts of Central and South America and the Caribbean, and parts of East Asia. The game is sometimes referred to as hardball, in contrast to the derivative game of softball.

In North America, professional Major League Baseball (MLB) teams are divided into the National League (NL) and American League (AL). Each league has three divisions: East, West, and Central. Every year, the champion of Major League Baseball is determined by playoffs that culminate in the World Series. Five teams make the playoffs from each league: the three regular season division winners, plus two wild card teams. Baseball is the leading team sport in both Japan and Cuba, and the top level of play is similarly split between two leagues: Japan's Central League and Pacific League; Cuba's West League and East League. In the National and Central leagues, the pitcher is required to bat, per the traditional rules. In the American, Pacific, and both Cuban leagues, there is a tenth player, a designated hitter, who bats for the pitcher. Each top-level team has a farm system of one or more minor league teams. These teams allow younger players to develop as they gain on-field experience against opponents with similar levels of skill. (more...)

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Ichiro Suzuki was the first high-profile NPB player (and second overall) to use the posting system.
The posting system (?, posutingu shisutemu) is a baseball player transfer system which operates between Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and the United States' Major League Baseball (MLB). Despite the drafting of the United States - Japanese Player Contract Agreement in 1967 designed to regulate NPB players moving to MLB, problems arose in the late 1990s. Some NPB teams lost star players without compensation, an issue highlighted when NPB stars Hideo Nomo and Alfonso Soriano left to play in MLB after using loopholes to void their existing contracts. A further problem was that NPB players had very little negotiating power if their teams decided to deal them to MLB, as when pitcher Hideki Irabu was traded to an MLB team for which he had no desire to play. In 1998, the Agreement was rewritten to address both problems and was dubbed the "posting system". Under this system, when an NPB player is "posted", MLB holds a four-day-long silent auction during which MLB teams can submit sealed bids in an attempt to win the exclusive rights to negotiate with the player for a period of 30 days. If the MLB team with the winning bid and the NPB player agree on contract terms before the 30-day period has expired, the NPB team receives the bid amount as a transfer fee, and the player is free to play in MLB. If the MLB team cannot come to a contract agreement with the posted player, then no fee is paid, and the player's rights revert to his NPB team. Up to the end of the 2008/09 posting period, thirteen Japanese players had been posted using the system. Of these, seven signed Major League contracts immediately, three signed minor league contracts, and three were unsuccessful in attracting any MLB interest. The two highest-profile players that have been acquired by MLB teams through the posting system are Ichiro Suzuki and Daisuke Matsuzaka. They attracted high bids of $13.125 million and $51.1 million respectively, and have enjoyed successful MLB careers. However, since its implementation the posting system has been criticized by the media and baseball insiders from both countries.

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Cobb jackson.jpg
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Ty Cobb, Major League Baseball's all-time leader in batting average, with Shoeless Joe Jackson, a great hitter best known for his part in the Black Sox scandal.

Selected biography

Morris "Moe" Berg (March 2, 1902 - May 29, 1972) was an American catcher and coach in Major League Baseball who later served as a spy for the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. Although he played 15 seasons in the major leagues, almost entirely for four American League teams, Berg was never more than an average player, usually used as a backup catcher, and was better known for being "the brainiest guy in baseball" than for anything he accomplished in the game. Casey Stengel once described Berg as "the strangest man ever to play baseball". A graduate of Princeton University and Columbia Law School, Berg spoke several languages and regularly read 10 newspapers a day. His reputation was fueled by his successful appearances as a contestant on the radio quiz show Information, Please! in which he answered questions about the derivation of words and names from Greek and Latin, historical events in Europe and the Far East, and ongoing international conferences. As a spy working for the government of the United States, Berg traveled to Yugoslavia to gather intelligence on resistance groups the U.S. government was considering supporting. He was then sent on a mission to Italy, where he interviewed various physicists concerning the German nuclear program. After the war, Berg was occasionally employed by the OSS's successor, the Central Intelligence Agency, but, by the mid-1950s, was unemployed. He spent the last two decades of his life without work, living with various siblings.

Quotes

"All pitchers are liars or crybabies. "


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Connie Mack began his managing career as a player-manager.
In early baseball history, it was not uncommon for players to serve as player-managers; that is, they managed the team while still being signed to play for the club. In the history of MLB, there have been 221 player-managers, 59 of whom are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The dual role of player-manager was formerly a common practice, dating back to John Clapp, who performed the task for the Middletown Mansfields in 1872. One reason for this is that by hiring a player as a manager, the team could save money by paying only one salary. Also, popular players were named player-managers in an effort to boost game attendance. Babe Ruth left the New York Yankees when they refused to allow him to become player-manager. Five of the eight National League (NL) managers in 1934 were also players. Connie Mack, John McGraw, and Joe Torre, among the all-time leaders in managerial wins, made their managerial debuts as player-managers.

Today, player-managers have become rare in baseball. Pete Rose is the most recent player-manager, serving from 1984 through 1986 with the Cincinnati Reds. Whereas some player-managers, such as Lou Boudreau, were full-time players as player-managers, by the time Rose became player-manager, he was a part-time player. Rose was trying to prolong his career to break the all-time hit record set by Ty Cobb, and Reds owner Marge Schott used this as a marketing ploy. One criticism of the practice holds that the manager has enough to be preoccupied with during a game without playing. With specialized bullpens, extensive scouting reports, and increased media scrutiny, the job of a manager has become more complex. A player-manager needs to decide how much playing time to give himself. Don Kessinger, player-manager of the Chicago White Sox in 1979, believes he did not play himself enough. Additionally, Bill Terry felt he became isolated from his team when he became a player-manager.

However, the idea of the player-manager has been addressed recently. The Toronto Blue Jays considered hiring Paul Molitor as a player-manager in 1997. When approached with the idea in 2000, Barry Larkin reported that he found it "interesting", though general manager (GM) Jim Bowden rejected the idea. In the 2011-12 offseason, the White Sox considered hiring incumbent first baseman Paul Konerko to serve as manager. White Sox GM Kenny Williams said that he believes MLB will again have a player-manager.

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