On the Sideline: Baseball

Baseball. It’s known as America’s Pastime. While other sports like football, hockey and basketball make attempts at stealing the hierarchical throne of our sports society, every April through October, America is reminded of its true sports love.

Most people know the general rules of baseball. It’s played with a two-seamed ball, a wooden (sometimes metal) stick called a bat and a leather glove used to soften the pain of catching the hard-hit two-seamed ball after it comes streaking off the end of the bat.

More than all that, the game of baseball is about strategy. When a team is on defense, the eight position players and the pitcher all have to work as one collective unit. There are generally two types of pitchers in baseball: power pitchers and finesse pitchers. Power pitchers often throw between 90-100 mph. Finesse pitchers generally throw an assortment of slower moving pitchers like changeups or curveballs.

The type of pitcher that is currently pitching, along with the batter, often determine the positioning of a defense. Outfielders, for instance, will often shade to the left or right of their normal position depending upon these variables. When facing a left-handed batter while a finesse pitcher is in the game, outfielders will often position themselves a few steps left of their normal positioning. Being that the batter is left-handed, he is more likely to hit the slow-pitched ball earlier in his swing, meaning that the baseball will likely travel to the left side of the field.

Offensive players use strategy as well. The art of “small ball” refers to such parts of the game as bunting or pulling a “hit and run.” Because defenses are often expecting a full-bodied swing, a soft bunt might be an easy way of getting the batter on first base. The hit and run is used to give the runner on first base an advance start on a baseball hit in play. The batter and the runner must know each other’s strategy for this to work.

There is always something going on during a baseball game. By paying attention to the small details, every baseball game can be more than just a wait for that between-innings visit from the team’s mascot.

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