Out of the four biggest sports in America, baseball is the only game where the defense can possess the ball. Once a player is removed, they cannot reenter the match. Surprisingly, the managers’ uniforms are the same as players’. There are many more aspects of baseball that make it a great and unique team sport. Behold a close look at the specific characteristics of baseball.
No Two Stadiums Are Built the Same
The infields for each baseball field look alike. The pitcher’s mound is about 60’6″ from the home plate. Then 10 inches above the home plate is the pitching rubber. The distance between the bases is exactly 90ft. And this marks the end of similarities and regulations in a baseball stadium. The walls and outfields of the fair and foul vary from one stadium to the next. Some parks are more iconic such as Fenway Park that features the Triangle at the center and the Green Monster. Another standout baseball stadium is the Wrigley Field whose outfield wall comprises the ivy and a hanging basket. The bullpens outside the foul lines also make Wrigley Field a unique stadium. In commemoration of Roberto Clemente, the greatest outfielder of the Pittsburgh Pirates, a 21-feet right-field fence was erected in the PNC Park. At Minute Maid Park, baseball is more exciting to watch thanks to Tal’s Hill. Regardless of the different amounts of foul in each field, the ball is still playable. While some quirky features are due to limited space, others were included just to make a stadium unique.
No Game Clock
This is probably the greatest characteristic that differentiates baseball from the rest of the sports. The absence of artificial time constraints means that a match cannot end until it’s over. This is unlike in other sports where the results are decided before the stipulated time runs out. In other sports, it becomes possible for teams that are behind on the scoreboard to beat their counterparts. But in baseball, the hope is infinite. There is always a chance for the weaker team to make a comeback and beat the other one regardless of the hard circumstances. For instance, a team could be behind 12 runs with 2 outs in the ninth bottom. There is still a little chance of winning. No one can tell when the baseball game ends. It could end on one pitch or the next. A team must use up all the 27 outs. So, the opposing team must throw the ball to give them a chance to win. The team that scores more runs using the same opportunities emerges the winner. Thanks to no time clock, baseball becomes more exciting during playoffs where every game ball counts.
Other sports require taking the ball to a designated area. But baseball is nothing like that. No net, end zone, or target is needed to score. A score is recorded when the ball hits over the outfield wall but this is not a must. Every score gives an equal value of one run. The teams, therefore, strive to score more runs and inhibit any chance of the opponent scoring. After building sizeable leads, the team aims at protecting those leads through prevent defense strategy or milking the game. It is wrong to assume that a team has got enough runs or the opposing team is out of the game. In football, a team can give their rival intentional points just to have the ball back. But in baseball, pitchers walk a batter with no intention to help the opponent score. Similarly, the manager can never instruct a baseball player to strike out to score more runs in the ninth inning.
The seasons of a baseball game can be compared to the actual seasons of the year. Unlike hockey, football, and basketball, baseball season starts in spring. This marks the beginning of a new life. It comes to an end in fall when farmers are harvesting or completing their efforts. This is a metaphor for real life. Teams that make playoffs are recognized and given a chance to exhibit their mastery in the Fall Classic. Of all the major sports leagues, baseball plays the most games. Baseball has the second shortest season in terms of the number of days it runs. A unique thing about baseball season is that the matches happen every day. Yesterday’s failures cannot be a reason to feel discouraged the next day. Again, winning today is not a guarantee that tomorrow will be a victory. Baseball teams enjoy the day and move on. This requires consistent focus and commitment to keep winning. This is known as the grind that separates men from boys. It is more of mental toughness as opposed to brute force. Those who are not mentally prepared for 162 games are likely to be wasted by the road ahead.
Regarded as America’s favorite pastime game, baseball never forgets the past players. The performance of current players is compared to that of previous players. In batting .300, the performance of top players from the past eras is used as a standard measure of offensive performance. It is for the same reason that baseball players in any era compete with the memories and achievements of their predecessors.
Normally a sports game involves a team defending the opposing team. But in baseball, the defense possesses the ball. Defending the ball is more important than defending an opponent. The most crucial task in baseball is to stop the ball. This means the players match their defensive tactics against the ball and not the opposing players.
In each baseball game, a plethora of strategic decisions has to be made. Unlike matches such as chess, baseball allows each team to have time for reflection after making a move. At the same time, the opponents will be considering how to respond.
A baseball player may hit a lead-off triple during the eighth inning and still fail to score. They may endure 3 out of plays while desperately striving to make it home and fail. They can still see the teammates flyout, groundout, or strikeout and not get a chance to make a score. Players often experience numerous pitching changes and breaks while waiting for a score. The game can be nerve-wracking. Situations in baseball make players earn it. They have to be patient and strong enough to wait for that end victory and thrill. They can still wait that long only to endure agony in defeat. As if that’s not enough, the same experience can happen the next day.
Diamond Playing Surface
The vast majority of sports are played on rectangular surfaces. And the surface area is identical in all venues. This is not the case in baseball. Here, the laying surface is diamond/square. It is the outfield areas that differ. In some parks, the surfaces have symmetrical outfields. Others comprise of fences with peculiar angles that affect the outcome. Some fences are low while others are quite high.
The main aim of major sports like football is to advance the ball to the other end to place it over a goal. However, the object of baseball is to advance one’s back or a teammate to the home plate (point of start). The idea is to go full circle rather than end to end
Out of play = In play
Foul territory or out of play is still in play whether the ball is being played offensively or defensively. The defense catches a pop fly when out of play. If the batter hits the ball, it is ruled fair but moves to a foul territory where it remains a live ball. Any space between the baseball stands is considered a play, unlike in other games.
Footballers can master a single skill like blocking and appear in the hall of fame. But baseball players have to master several skills. This means that no baseball player is a specialist. They are supposed to execute all the necessary techniques regardless of their position. Running with speed, hitting for average, fielding, hitting for power, throwing, and defense skills are equally important. Two more skills need mastery in baseball: the use of bat and glove. It is generally agreed that hitting a baseball is the most complicated skill. The physics of hitting is mysterious. Even the most skillful players at hitting succeed only 30% of the time they have an opportunity.
Size Doesn’t Matter
No matter the size of a player, they always have a place in the game. Baseball is a more inclusive game and genetics do not count. As such, anyone can become a solid player with dedicated efforts.
Baseball involves a lot of math and statistics. Baseball must keep track of every single detail. No data is so small not to be recorded. The earned run averages and batting averages must be calculated. The match is based on the statistics of each individual from a certain year. It is designed in a way that if one had to play throughout the season, the statistics of each player in the Strat-O-Matic would be almost the same as the real-life stats for that year.
No Escaping Accountability
As a team sport, baseball involves a series of matchups where hitters play one-on-one with pitchers. The fielder defends the ball while baserunners battle the fielders that are trying to knock them out. When a batter strikes out, they are thrown out of the game. When the fielder makes a blunder, it is considered a big E6 on the scoreboard. The mistakes can be spotted by spectators or the teams. A good pitcher stands on the mound waiting for the manager to pick the ball and hand it out to another pitcher. Then he walks to the dugout without escaping.