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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

Frontispiece of a biography of Radcliffe autographed by its subject.
Theodore Roosevelt "Double Duty" Radcliffe (July 7, 1902-August 11, 2005) was at his death thought to be the oldest living professional baseball player (it was later discovered that Silas Simmons was born seven years earlier in 1895), one of only a handful of major league (considering the Negro Leagues major) players who lived past their 100th birthdays, and a former star in the Negro Leagues. Playing for more than 30 teams, Radcliffe had more than 4,000 hits and 400 home runs, won about 500 games and had 4,000 strike-outs. He played as a pitcher and a catcher, became a manager, and in his old age became a popular ambassador for the game.

Damon Runyon coined the nickname "Double Duty" because Radcliffe played as a catcher and as a pitcher in the successive games of a 1932 Negro League World Series doubleheader between the Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Monroe Monarchs. In the first of the two games at Yankee Stadium Radcliffe caught the pitcher Satchel Paige for a shutout and then pitched a shutout in the second game. Runyon wrote that Radcliffe "was worth the price of two admissions." Radcliffe considered his year with the 1932 Pittsburgh Crawfords to be one of the highlights of his career. The Crawfords beat the Monarchs 5-1 in the best-of-nine series.

Quotes

I bleed Dodger blue and when I die, I'm going to the big Dodger in the sky.


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Don Larsen threw the first perfect game in Yankees history and the only such game in MLB postseason history.
Also known in their early years as the "Baltimore Orioles" (1901-02) and the "New York Highlanders" (1903-12), the New York Yankees have had ten pitchers throw eleven no-hitters in franchise history. A no-hitter is officially recognized by Major League Baseball (MLB) only "when a pitcher (or pitchers) retires each batter on the opposing team during the entire course of a game, which consists of at least nine innings". No-hitters of less than nine complete innings were previously recognized by the league as official; however, several rule alterations in 1991 changed the rule to its current form. A no-hitter is rare enough that two of the thirty teams in Major League Baseball have never had a pitcher accomplish the feat. Three perfect games, a special subcategory of no-hitter, have been pitched in Yankees history. As defined by Major League Baseball, "in a perfect game, no batter reaches any base during the course of the game." This feat was achieved by Don Larsen in 1956, David Wells in 1998, and David Cone in 1999. Wells later claimed he was a "little hung-over" while throwing his perfect game.

George Mogridge threw the first no-hitter in Yankees history, beating their rival Boston Red Sox 2-1, their only no-hitter in which the opposition scored. Their most recent no-hitter was David Cone's perfect game in 1999, the seventh Yankees no-hitter thrown by a right-handed pitcher and their third perfect game. The Yankees' first perfect game was also thrown by a right-handed pitcher, Don Larsen, and came in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. Larsen's perfect game was the only no-hitter in MLB postseason play until Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies pitched a no-hitter in Game 1 of the 2010 National League Division Series. Coincidentally, Cone's perfect game came on "Yogi Berra Day" at Yankee Stadium. Berra had caught Larsen's perfect game and both he and Larsen were in the stands for the game. Of the eleven no-hitters pitched by Yankees players, three each have been won by the scores 4-0 and 2-0, more common than any other result. The largest margin of victory in a Yankees no-hitter was 13 runs, in a 13-0 win by Monte Pearson.

The longest interval between Yankees no-hitters was between the game pitched by Larsen on October 8, 1956 and Dave Righetti's no hitter on July 4, 1983, encompassing 26 years, 8 months, and 26 days. The shortest gap between such games fell between Allie Reynolds' two no-hitters in 1951, a gap of just 2 months and 16 days from July 12 till September 28. Reynolds is the only Yankees pitcher to throw multiple no-hitters in his career, and one of only four pitchers in Major League history to throw multiple no-hitters in a season along with Nolan Ryan in 1973, Virgil Trucks in 1952, and Johnny Vander Meer in 1938. The Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians have been no-hit by the Yankees more than any other franchise, each doing so three times. Notably, Reynolds' two no-hit victims in 1951 were the Red Sox and the Indians.

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