Rules Of Baseball Explained

The Rules of Baseball - Explained

Baseball is a sport with many complexities that can appear daunting to the newcomer. However, it’s one of America’s most beloved pastimes, and inspires a fanatical level of devotion (the recent Oscar-nominated hit Moneyball showcasing but a small glimpse of this.) With the Major League Baseball (MLB) post-season playoffs and the legendary World Series due to begin at the end of September, we’ve put together a handy guide so you can see what all the fuss is about. If you’ve ever played rounders before, then you’re already halfway there. If not, we’ll start with the absolute basics.

The game is played between two teams of nine players who take it in turns to field and to bat.

The key battle is between the pitcher and the batter.

The pitcher aims to throw the ball within the strike zone, an area – adjudged by umpires – in which the batter must attempt to hit the ball if it falls within its parameters. If a batter fails to hit three legitimate pitches, they strike out. 

If the pitcher throws outside of this strike zone, this is called a ball. If the pitcher throws four balls, the batter gets a free walk to first base. The baseball field consists of four bases arranged in a counter-clockwise order.

The batter’s objective is to get on base, with the ultimate goal of scoring a run – or reaching fourth base (also known as home plate) having run through all three previous bases without getting out.

The fielding team can get the batter out in a number of ways. These include; striking out, catching a hit pitch before it touches the ground, or by getting the ball to a base before the batter can reach it.

If the batter reaches the base before this can happen, they are safe. If the batter manages to run through all four bases in one play (without the assistance of the batters proceeding him), this is known as a home run.

This generally occurs when the ball is hit over the outfield fence without being caught, resulting in an automatic home run. It can be achieved while the ball remains in play, but this is an increasingly rare phenomena in modern baseball.

If the fielding team manages to get three of the batting team out, the two sides switch roles. Once both fielding teams achieve this, it is the end of the innings.

A MLB game consists of nine innings, with the winner decided by whichever team has scored the most runs. As with any sport, there are a number of intricacies and nuances to the rules should you want to investigate further, but getting a grip of these essentials should be more than enough for you to don a foam finger, grab a plate of nachos and head down to your nearest sports bar, confident that you’ll have more than an idea on what’s going on.

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