Much like other sports, there are two opposing teams that are comprised of offensive and defensive positions. However, with the nine players on each team, each player has his chance at playing both offensively and defensively. Each period, or inning, in baseball is made up of both teams serving as both offense and defense, with one team at the bat while the other plays the field. Each game consists of nine innings unless there is a tie that needs to be broken, which results in extra innings. The team at bat is trying to make points for the team by running the full circuit of the baseball diamond that’s actually square in shape. A full circuit involves the batter hitting a ball so that the batter can cover each of the four bases from home plate to first, second, and third base, running back to home plate to win a run.
Defense, or those in the field, are there to prevent this from happening by a few different means. The objective of the defense is to catch the ball or tag an opposing player to score an out. When the defense team racks up three outs, they get to switch to the offensive side, or the batting side, to score runs themselves in the hopes of winning. With the third out, the second half of the inning has now begun. A new inning starts when the defense team has accrued three outs of their own, bringing them back to the defensive side of the game.
The field, as mentioned earlier, is shaped like a square with 90° angles between the bases and the foul lines extending at 45° angles from home plate. Inside the bases is the infield while the area outside is the outfield. As long as the balls hit remain within the foul lines, the game is in fair play though if it should venture outside the foul lines, then the foul is recorded and the ball is pitched again with a penalty to the batter. The ball is pitched from the center of the infield by a raised mound made for the pitcher. Each base and the pitcher’s mound are covered by rubber plates to mark off their location within the field of gameplay. The outfield is usually closed off by a fence made of some material at some height though this isn’t always the case for games outside the professional levels.
In baseball, there are three main objects you need to play: a ball, a bat, and a glove (also known as a mitt). The size of a professional baseball is roughly the size of a human’s fist with a cover of white cowhide sewn with red stitching over a center made of either rubber or cork that’s wound with yarn. The bat is usually a solid piece of wood, which is rounded and measures about 34 to 42 inches long with a 2.5 inch diameter at the hitting end that tapers for the grip area and ends with a knob. The glove or mitt is the tool used for catching the ball that’s made for the protection of the hand from the fast-flying ball. Each position has a different shape to their mitt to help aid in their retrieval of the ball from a pitcher, a catcher, an infielder, and an outfielder. On top of these tools, helmets have also been standardized to protect the head from both the bat and the ball.
For the defensive lineup, you’ll typically find the team’s pitcher at the pitcher mound, readying the pitch of the ball to be caught by the catcher, who’s sitting behind home plate. Other players can be found throughout the infield and outfield with four sitting near the three bases and an extra within the infield area. The three other players are usually in the outfield, holding positions on the left, on the right, and in the center should the ball be thrown their way. An umpire can be found behind the catcher to make the calls of strike, ball, or deem a ball in fair or foul play while other umpires are spread throughout to watch for catches and other outs completed at other places on the field.
The first pitch puts the game into motion when the pitcher throws the ball based upon an agreed pitch to the catcher in the hopes the batter will swing and miss. Should this happen, there is a strike called upon the batter. When three strikes happen, there is an out for the offense team. Two more and the teams switch. However, should the batter strike the ball, the batter then runs to the first base where he either stays or moves on depending on where the ball is at that moment. If he’s stuck, then he waits for the next batter to hit the ball before dashing off to the next base. Homeruns are the ultimate scoring power since it will allow the batter and any other runners a chance to reach home plate without worry of being tapped out. Since homeruns don’t happen every time, the runners and the batter must take their chances as they run, hoping not to be tapped out by the defense or having the plate tapped prior to reaching it.
Other ways to strike out as a batter besides missing a hit is to hit a foul ball and to allow the ball to pass them within the strike zone. On the flip side, a ball can happen when the pitcher misses the strike zone and the batter doesn’t take aim at the ball. When four balls are racked up, then the batter is allowed to proceed to first base as a walk. Other ways to walk a batter is if the ball strikes the batter.
With each bat, the defense is trying to ensure that outs happen against the offense by strikeouts (as mentioned above), fly outs, ground outs, force outs, and tag outs. A fly out is one where a fielder catches the ball before it strikes the ground within both fair and foul territory. A ground out is an out that occurs when a fielder touches first base or another base to prevent the runner or batter from gaining the base though the ball must be in hand to achieve this out. A force out is one that takes place when a runner has no choice but to attempt to reach the next base, who is tapped by a fielder or has the based tapped prior to the runner reaching it. A tag out is the fielder holding the ball touching the runner or batter with his mitt when the other isn’t on a base or touching a base.
Each player has a chance at the bat and doesn’t receive another one until the rotation has completed through the other eight players. Each player’s appearance at bat is complete when he has successfully brought about a base reach, a home run hit, outs himself, or creates a third out for the team.