While it may have its roots in England, today, baseball is considered an American game. It is one of those few games where players play as a team yet, it is the pitcher against the batter in a battle of individual wits and skills. The team contributes as a whole, but individual skills count a lot. There are two teams participating in a baseball game. Each team has nine players. A pitcher throws a ball, the batter's aim is to hit it, and score runs.
The players of the batting team take turns in hitting the ball across a ninety-foot square shaped pitch, called the diamond. The fielding team's objective is to stop the batting players from scoring runs and in getting them out. If there are three consecutive outs the fielding and batting team switch places with each other, such turns at bat being termed an inning. There are usually nine innings in one professional game, with the team scoring the maximum runs declared the winner.
Deriving from bat and ball based games originating in England and Ireland, brought to American shores by immigrants; it has evolved into its standard form today, accepted as the national sport of the US. Also known as hardball, it has spread to other regions of the world, notably Central and South America, parts of East Asia, and the Caribbean.
In the States it is a hugely popular spectator game with a large fan following. At the top is the Major League Baseball (MLB) with divisions into the American League(AL) and the National League(NL). There are three divisions in each league comprising the East, West and Central Zones. Playoffs determine the league champion from among winners of the three regular divisions in addition to a wild card entry. Minor league teams help young players develop and reach the major top-level teams.
Spring training precedes the regular season. There are 162 games per team in the MLB regular season starting in April on the first Sunday and ending on the first Sunday of October. A team plays a 3 game series or sometimes a 2 or 4 game series, consisting of homestands and road trips. Games are played throughout the week except for Monday or Thursday. In June, July and August more games may be played. During mid-May and the last two-thirds of June teams take part in interleague play. Teams have to win their division to reach one of the four playoff positions in their league or reach it through a wild card spot.
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