It’s that time of year again when the hot dogs are cookin’, the milkshake line is about a mile long, and you can hear the clinking of balls hitting bats. That’s right, we’re talking baseball. And although a lot of University of Miami students go for the ambiance of the heckling crowd, it’d be nice to actually know what’s going on, too. For those of you wondering why players are running around bases, here is a brief and simplified explanation of baseball’s rules.
Starting off with basics, there are nine innings in a traditional baseball game. Each inning consists of two parts, one part for each team to bat and to field. In each part, teams get three “outs” to score as many runs as possible. Basically, players just want to hit the ball and run around bases to get back to home base in order to score, easy enough? Well, the hard part is actually hitting the ball, cause it’s coming in pretty fast from the pitcher’s mound.
Moving on to batting, players swing their bats over home plate to hit the ball. Every time they swing for it and miss, it’s called a strike. Even if the player doesn’t swing, if the ball is in the “strike zone” (an imaginary square above home plate), it’s a strike. Don’t worry about the imaginary square. If a player gets three strikes, they’re out and have to return to the dugout. It’s usually at this part of the game that UM’s favorite hecklers yell, “LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT!….” with every step as the opposing player walks back to the dugout, in a fun but definitely mocking way.
As they reach the dugout, the crowd yells “Siéntate!” in true Miami fashion.
Now, here is when things get tricky. If the ball is thrown outside of the “strike zone”, which is determined by the Umpire (a ref of sorts), it is called a “ball”. If a player gets four balls, they get to walk to first base.
When a ball is hit, the player runs as fast as they can counter-clockwise around the three bases. The catch is that while they want to make it as far as the can, they don’t want to get out. Players are out if the ball is thrown to a fielder who also has his foot on the base before the batter can get to that base. If this is the case, that player is removed from the field and goes back to the dugout where the rest of his team sits. Players are also out if they hit the ball into the air and before it hits the ground, a fielder catches it in his glove. If a player hits the ball beyond the grass in outfield and into the crowd, it is a homerun and they get to run around all the bases back to home to score.
Before this drags on, let me briefly touch on the different positions and then you’re off to a good start! So, the pitcher stands in the middle of the diamond on his mound and he’s the one throwing all the balls to batters. The catcher squats behind the batter to catch these pitches and toss the ball back. There is also a player roughly near each base, which means there is a first baseman, a second baseman, and a third baseman. Now, shortstop is a position that stands right in between second and third base to help field the ball when it’s hit. Then, all that’s left are the three outfielders that stand beyond the diamond out in the grass in case the ball goes far. There’s one in left field, center field, and right field.
Now sit back, eat some classic stadium food, and enjoy the game! You’ve got all the basic knowledge to understand how baseball works and you can tell your friends what’s going on, too.
Pictures from Marlins Opening Day: