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Baseball rules have evolved since the beginning but the overall game structure remained the same as the main target of the change was to improve the baseball game. Now, different league follow different rules but the most common features are same in all of the leagues. Major League Baseball strictly follows the rules according their manual.
These rules are considered most standard ones as MLB is the most prestigious league of the world. The main game structure is same for all the leagues of baseball. Baseball is a game between two teams of nine players each, under direction of a manager, played on an enclosed field. The game is held under direct supervision of several umpires. There may be four to six umpires depending on the importance of the match. These two teams compete against one another to win the match. The team that scores more runs is declared as winners. The field of a baseball game has four bases. These are called first, second, third and fourth bases. The third base is often called as Cushion while the fourth base is called Home Plate. These four bases make a square of 90 feet. The entire area outside the foul line is called foul territory. The four bases make the infield and the outfield is entire area outside the square bounded by the foul line and a wall or fence at the end. Pitcher’s mound is located in the center of the square and pitchers have to throw the ball from the mound. There are nine positions for the defensive side. The positions are Pitcher, catcher, first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, shortstop, left fielder, center fielder and right fielder. Among them the position of pitcher and catcher is mandatory. The pitcher has to be on the pitcher’s mound to throw the ball and the catcher needs to take place behind Home plate. Catcher collects the ball if the batter misses the ball. He also gives pitcher the direction of pitching ball. Pitcher tries to pitch the ball toward home plate to make the batter out. The first, second and third baseman keep themselves near the bases to strengthen the defense. Shortstop takes place in between the bases. The left fielder, center fielder and right fielder comprise the outfield. They try to catch the flying balls and need to have good fielding skill. They need to be good thrower as they throw the balls to the first base.
The job of the batter is to score as many runs possible. Batter tries to reach the first base after heating the ball. There are seven other methods that can allow the batter to reach the first base safely. When the batter reaches another base it is called a successful hit. The run depends on which base the batter has reached. If he can run all the bases then it is called a home run. A baseball game is divided into nine innings though the number of innings depends on the league. Each innings is divided into two half innings where in each half the defending team has to make three batsman out. After the whole nine innings the team that scores more run are declared as a winner. The rules are pretty simple and anyone can even learn the rules just by watching a game or two.
The American League and National League follow the same rules except one exception. American league follows the Designated Hitter rules whereas National League does not support it. This rule is maintained by considering on what ground the game is played. On the ground of an American League team this rule is in action but on the ground of a National League team this rule is not maintained.
All-star game is a competition between the best players from American League and National League. This breathtaking performance is held in mid season of Major League Baseball. It is also popularly known as midsummer classic. This denotes the halfway point of MLB and generally held in second Tuesday in July.
Sports editor of The Chicago Tribune, Arch Ward gave the idea of All-Star game. It was first held in 1933. It was proposed as a one-time event. But the popularity of All-Star game made it an annual game. From 1959-1962 two All-Star game held every year but it was abandoned pretty soon and the original format was established.
The All-star team consists of 34 players. The players are selected by a voting process. The starting position players come from direct voting of fans. The votes are collected before each mid-season game. 8 National League players are selected in this manner whereas 9 American League players selected by fans. 16 players are selected by the vote of players, coaches and managers of each team. The manager of All-star team select the rest players to make it 33. The last player is selected by the fan’s vote from a list of 5 players selected by the manager of the teams and Commissioner’s Office. The hitter is selected by the fan’s vote. Pitchers and the backups are selected by the players vote. The manager is not selected by voting. The managers of previous World Series get the chance to coach All-star team. The coaching stuffs are selected by the manager. The players were their team uniform in the All-Star game. But National League players wore special uniform in their first game but this has been abandoned since then. The venue selection is another important factor as it is a one game show. The venue is always selected that place in which a stadium have been opened or have historical importance or to commemorate significant year. The first All-Star game took place at World’s Fair at Chicago. The teams contest to win the right of holding the All-Star game in their venue. The venue is chosen by the selection committee of MLB. The venue of 2011 All-Star game is Chase field in Arizona. The venue alternates each year between American League teams and National League teams. But this trend had broken twice, the first at 1951 to celebrate the 250th birthday of Detroit City. The designated hitter rules were applicable only when the American League had the home advantage. This rule has been changed recently and Designated Hitter is used in every All-Star game. Since 1962 the best player of All-Star game is awarded with the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award. It was previously known as Arch Ward Trophy.
The team of the winner league of All-Star game is awarded with the home advantage. The All-Star game is a show of strength between the National and American League. Though two leagues are now considered as one as both of the leagues are organized by the same committee, still it is a game of honor for the teams of the rival leagues.
The number of teams in MLB has doubled since the start. Only 8 teams played in both American League and National League at first. This trend continued for over half a century. It was necessary to increase the team number as the popularity of baseball was consistently rising and people wanted more action. So, it was obvious that the number of baseball team would rise eventually.
During 1903-1953, only 16 teams played in the Major baseball leagues. 8 teams played in National League and another 8 in American league. Prior to that the team numbers changed frequently and there were no established major leagues as other leagues were disbanded soon after their start. As baseball gained intense popularity the necessity of adding more teams were felt and after 1953 new teams started to join the major baseball leagues. In 1969 both of the leagues were divided into two divisions called East division and West division. This made major league baseball a game of 24 teams where 12 teams played in each of the league and from this divisional era began in baseball. In 1994, 14 teams played in each league divided into three divisions. The divisions are East division, West division and newly formed Central division. In 1998 two new teams started to play in Major League Baseball. This made Major League Baseball a game of 30 teams. The number of teams has remained constant since then. National League has 16 teams and American League has 14 teams. The leagues still follow the three division format. The teams of the East division of American league are Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays. The West division has four teams. These are Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers. These 14 teams play against each other to win the American League title. The National League follows the same format like American League except that they have two more team than American League. Each division has five teams except the central division has six teams. The East division teams are Atlanta Braves, Florida Marlins, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals. The west division teams are Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants. The central division teams are Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals. These teams play in the National league to win the National League title. After the year the winner of the National League and American League compete each other in the World Series to win the title. The New York Yankees have won the title 27 times, far more than any other teams. St. Louis Cardinals have won the series 10 times. Oakland Athletics is in the third place with 9 championships. Seattle Mariners and Washington Nationals never played in the World Series championship. Other teams have at least played a world series if not win it. Every team has huge support over them and the players have become icon. Each team has strong financial support and working hard to do well in the championship.