Take me out to the ball game, take me out with the crowd...
One of the great American sports, baseball is loved throughout the nation, and it has been from the turn of the 20th century. It is so much part of the American psyche that the nation mourned on hearing that some of their heroes had underperformed for cash during the 1919 World Series.
And it's not just about the skill on show, and there is plenty of that. It's the pre-game rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner," the sound of the organ, the chanting from the home side and the hotdogs... don't forget the hotdogs. They always taste best while overlooking the baseball diamond. Washed down with some liquid refreshment of course! And of all the ballplayers that we love to watch, it's perhaps the pitcher that is the most important. Standing slight raised on the mound, sweat dripping off his forehead, it is he who must outwit the batter, choosing the correct ball at the correct time to seal glory for his team.
The Boston Americans were crowned the first ever World Series champions. They won the final four games in the nine game series to take it five games to three.
The main job of the catcher is to cleanly catch any pitch missed or not swung at by the batsman. He has other jobs as well. The catcher helps in defensive plays as he can see the whole field while he also calls the type of pitch he wants the pitcher to throw.
The most potent weapon in the pitcher's armory, the fastball does what it says on the box... hurries the batter up a little. Fastballs range from around 90 mph, but if you can hit the 100 mph mark, you can have batters in real trouble.
So the object of baseball is to score runs by getting runners over fourth, the home plate. The easiest way to do this is to hit a home run. Except, it's not actually that easy. When achieved, it is said the batter has "parked" a home run.
Baseball has many incredible terms to describe what is happening. If someone is "flinging a pea," they are pitching really fast. The fastest ever pitch recorded was measured at 107 mph. This was unofficial, however.
The knuckleball aims to make sure the baseball does not spin too much in flight. This means it travels in an erratic manner, which makes it difficult to hit for the batter. The ball originally held in the knuckles, hence the name.
A "power hitter" doesn't necessarily have the greatest batting average compared to other players. What they do have is the ability to crunch home runs or powerful base hits.
Baseball certainly loves a left-handed pitcher. They have many nicknames, including "portsider". Why? Well, port is actually nautical terminology. The port side of the ship is the left side.
Incredibly, the first World Series was held in 1903. The matchup saw the Boston Americans take on the Pittsburgh Pirates. The nine-game series took place over 13 days.
Yes, he did. And he was pretty good at it. In 1916, Babe Ruth pitched for a whole season, securing 170 strikeouts while securing 23 wins.
Most batters will expect a pitcher to throw a fastball in certain situations. For example, with two out, batters expect the pitcher to want to end the innings with a fastball. A "changeup" is disguised to look like a fastball, but it arrives at the plate slower, causing the batter to swing early.
If a pitcher throws a curveball, the chances are that if the batter misses, he would have chased the ball, especially if it moved away from him. When a batter chases a pitch, he is swinging at something outside the strike zone. If he left it alone, it would have been called a ball.
Giving everything in a pitch leaves the pitcher vulnerable when the ball is smashed back at him. This is called a "comebacker." Incredibly, sometimes a pitcher manages to make a catch off a one of these.
The pitcher and the catcher in any team have an important relationship. The catcher can see exactly what is happening in the field. He must also be able to read the game, and the mind of the batter, if possible. Between the catcher and the pitcher, the best pitch to throw next is determined. Bear in mind, the pitcher won't always agree and will get the catcher to change his call.
If a pitcher "nails" the batter, he could be ejected from the game. This is especially true if the pitch was deemed intentional. And usually, a massive fight ensues!
An important part of a pitcher's armory, a curveball will move through the air, making it difficult for the batter to hit it. To throw a curveball, a pitcher will make a downward rotation with their index and middle fingers.
Nolan Ryan leads the field when it comes to strikeouts in MLB history. He started his career in 1966, playing for 27 years until 1993. During this time, the 8x All-Star played for four teams. A member of the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, Ryan only won the World Series once.
No-hitters are extremely rare in baseball. Why? Well, think about it. To stop top notch batters from getting a hit in MLB games is very difficult. Nolan Ryan, who struck out over 5,000 batsmen in MLB, only managed seven no-hitters in his 27-year career.
Without a doubt, the fastball is most pitchers' go to ball. Why? Well, it's the quickest and gives a batter the least reaction time. Aimed properly and it's very difficult to hit. So that's why its called "Old Number One." The catcher sign for a fastball is also just one finger extended, so the name coincides with that as well.
Nolan Ryan achieved 5,714 strikeouts during his long and distinguished career. He also threw seven no-hitters during his career. Ryan was voted into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1999.
The 2018 World Series champions were the Boston Red Sox. They defeated the LA Dodgers 4-1 in a best of seven series. The Red Sox opened an early 2-0 lead before the Yankees cut it to 2-1. The Red Sox won the next two games to clinch the series.
In modern baseball, the lead-off batsman has to have many talents. Not only should he make base hits but he should also have the ability to go long and hit home runs. The lead-off man also needs to be quick, and will often steal bases.
A double play sees the field team get two batters out in one play. For example, a batter hits a ground ball that is fielded by the shortstop. He runs out the batter running for second base who then throws first to run out the batter who hit the ball.
Sometimes it is beneficial for the pitcher to aim his pitch a little higher, but just keeping it in the strike zone, especially a fastball. Why? Well, these are extremely difficult to for the batter to hit.
The "yips" is not a term that only refers to baseball. In baseball, however, a pitcher with the yips has totally lost control of pitching and cannot get the ball to go where he wants, not matter what pitch type he throws.
A "spitball" in baseball is illegal. Here, some foreign liquid or substance changes the ball. It can be spit (hence the name) or petroleum jelly may be used, for example. This makes the ball move strangely through the air.
The 1919 World Series will go down in history. And for the wrong reasons. Eight players from the Chicago White Sox were accused of playing below par and deliberately losing the series to the Cincinnati Reds. A public trial saw all eight acquitted, but they were banned from baseball forever.
Baseball has many colorful terms to describe certain aspects of the sport. A "tossed salad" has to be one of the best! In effect, the pitch is so easy, the batter can't help but send the ball on its way.
Hitting a batter with a pitch intentionally is considered to be unsporting behavior. If the umpires deem it was done on purpose, the pitcher will be ejected from the game. This is also known as "given the thumb" or "given the heave-ho" in some cases.
In baseball, it's not always about trying to hit home runs. The best home runs are the ones when runners are already on bases. And the best way to get them there is to have batters that are gap hitters.
If a pitcher throws an intentional pitch that hits the batter on the helmet, he is said to have thrown a "beanball," which is illegal. In most cases, the pitcher will be ejected from the game.
A fastball is one finger, a curveball is two fingers. That covers the two most pitched balls in a baseball game. Of course, in the Majors, it is not that simple as a catcher can use a number of signs to tell the pitcher exactly where in the pitching box he wants the pitch to end.
The designated area for any pitcher is called the bullpen. Here, the relief pitchers will spend time keeping their arms in the groove, ready to be called upon at any time by the manager to come out to the diamond as a relief pitcher.
It's impossible to have a fielder everywhere. A pitching team must cover the bases, the areas in between them and then also have catchers in the deep to catch fly balls. The area between the first set of fielders and those catchers in the outfield is called "no man's land" by players.
A pitcher is certainly on top of a batter if he has managed to strike him out five times in a game. All the better if it is one of the top batters from the opposition team. The rings are linked to the fact that he has scored 0 on five occasions.