10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Baseball

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Baseball

Major League Baseball (MLB) is one of America’s oldest and most popular sports. To us British, it’s often just dismissed out of hand as rounders with longer bats, and to a certain degree, you might actually be right. Additionally, the market for sports memorabilia, including items like Chicago Cubs jerseys, has been greatly influenced by the statistical revolution in baseball, with collectors often seeking out pieces associated with iconic players or significant moments in the game's history.

What we don’t often accept is that baseball is one of the most pioneering sports in the field of embracing statistical revolution, meaning that if you don’t really know what you’re doing, dabbling in the intricacies of the game can still be a lucrative hobby.

 

MLB StadiumOriginal source  “An MLB game in the USA”

 

A sport that has been professional almost as long as football has, baseball is steeped in odd traditions and quirks that seem more than a little bit odd from the perspective of an outsider looking in, but it is all taken as read by the fans who watch their side play on a weekly basis.

Famous for the atmosphere in the ballparks, as well as the copious amounts of food and drink available to fans throughout the games, baseball isn’t just a sport; it’s an event. If drinking beer and eating regional fast food while watching the finest talents in their chosen field perform at the highest level sounds like your thing, then maybe you should give MLB a chance.

Here’s an introduction to the MLB and baseball for beginners, and some odd little known facts and quirks you may not have known about until now…

 

10 - MLB clubs have to have around 90 balls to hand per game, as the average time one spends in play is only six to seven pitches at most. Given our love of cricket, and the fact that the average ball lasts 80+ overs in International test cricket, this may well sound absurd at first, but bear in mind that catchers in the crowd can keep the ball, unlike in cricket.

9 - There is an award for the ‘worst pitch turned into a hit’. Usually, if the ball is pitched terribly and left, the advantage is with the batting side. However, given the existence of the Vladimir Guerrero Award, batters may be tempted to go swinging at the poorer deliveries after all.

8 - Moneyball, the 2011 film featuring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill that was a multiple Oscar nominee, is based on a book about the statistical revolution of MLB, which has been adopted by several Premier League clubs. Liverpool owners FSG are huge believers in this method, and have based several large purchases on the baseball philosophy.

7 - MLB sides started out all wearing the same kits…apart from their socks. Home teams traditionally wore white, and away sides wore darker colours. It’s something long since abandoned now, with various designs in place across the league, but some of the names have stood the test of time; Boston’s Red Sox and Chicago’s White Sox are the two most famous examples.

6 - Like most sports, baseball has had its fair share of corruption scandals. Formed in 1876 as a professional league, the first instance of players ‘throwing the pennant’ occurred in 1877, meaning the sport started as it meant to go on. Gambling has been a repeated issue in baseball, with players ball tampering and enhancing bats over the years to fulfill dodgy brown envelope deals. These issues have largely disappeared over the years and reputable betting vendors like Betfair in the UK offer a number of markets on major baseball games.

5 - For eight years between 1885 and 1893, the MLB allowed one side of the bat to be flat. Now, we’ve not played much baseball, but giving the batter what is essentially a cricket bat seems like an unfair advantage, doesn’t it? No surprises then that the rule didn’t last long.

4 – Everyone’s favourite questionable Hollywood personality Charlie Sheen once bought 2,615 tickets to a single MLB game just to increase his chances of catching a home run ball. The phrase ‘more money than sense’ comes to mind.

3 - Every single ball used in MLB is pre-rubbed with mud from a secret location in Jersey that only one man knows about before being allowed to be used in a game. This apparently improves the quality of the ball.

2 - To you and me, Barry Bonds is just the name of a Kanye West song. However, the real Barry Bonds is a former MLB superstar who still holds the record for most career home runs (762) and most home runs in a single season (73, in 2001). That explains the lyric: “here’s another hit, Barry Bonds”, then.

1 - The biggest event in MLB is the World Series, which determines who that season’s champion will be. Called the World Series (although only contested by 29 American teams with one token entrant from Canada), the New York Yankees have won it the most times, notching up 27 titles, a whole 16 more than their nearest competition. Eight teams of the 30 have never won the World Series, with two never having reached the event at all.