A bunt is a type of offensive play that involves tapping the ball into play. The batter squares around in the batter’s box, sliding their top hand farther up the bat, and using the barrel to “catch” the pitch as it comes in. The batter can manipulate the bunt to where the ball simply drops in front of the plate, or they can angle the bat in order to guide the bunted ball along the first or third base line.
A sacrifice bunt is a sort of bunt play in which the goal is to advance a runner who is already on base. The batter attempts to bunt in a manner that leaves the fielders no choice but to throw only the batter out, thus allowing the other runner to advance to the next base.
Some hitters, particularly those who are speedy runners, may attempt bunt for a hit. These bunts typically come in the form of a drag bunt, in which the batter begins running in the batter’s box at the same time as they bunt, to help them get a head start in the race for first base.
Squeeze bunts are employed when there is a runner on third base. A safety squeeze is when the runner starts towards home after he sees that the bunt has been successfully laid down. A suicide squeeze (probably my favorite play in all of baseball) is when the runner on third takes off towards home with the pitch, and it becomes imperative that the batter lay the bunt down in order to prevent the runner being tagged out.
Here’s a great diagram of the cross section of a baseball. If you’ve never taken apart a baseball, it’s a fascinating experience (not to mention long and sticky). Baseballs definitely have more interesting features to them than the inflated rubber you find in a lot of sports.
And here’s a photo of the outside of a ball during the various stages while it’s getting made.
I have a handful of friends whom I’ve converted into baseball fans just by talking about the game. Fortunately for me, they all already had some familiarity with how the game works, so it was really just a matter of conveying my excitement. However, I know there are some folks out there who are completely unfamiliar with baseball, and I was pretty happy to come across this video. I’ll have to keep it in my back pocket for the day I meet someone who might be interested, but doesn’t know anything about this wonderful pastime.
Here’s a video from The New York Times I came across that describes what made Mariano Rivera such an effective closer. The video is wonderfully concise, yet explains the mechanics of Rivera’s cutter in an easy-to-follow manner complete with some excellent graphics.
In sports like football, soccer, or hockey, the division of the game into parts is much easier. Four quarters. Two halves. Three periods. These are divisions of the time allotted to play that particular game.
Baseball, however, is not a timed sport. Therefore, the usual segments for dividing up the game into parts don’t really work. Instead, the game is divided by aspects of play within the game itself: three outs per half-inning, with each team getting the opportunity to bat, therefore allotting six outs per full inning, and nine innings in a game. But why do we call these nine segments of the game “innings”?
Not surprisingly, the term as used in baseball originally comes from cricket, in which the time a team has at bat is referred to as an “innings.” In the original English usage of the word, “innings” was used both as the singular and the plural term. Baseball Americanized the word to create the singular “inning.”
It is interesting to note that the word “inning” pre-dates even cricket. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, “inning” comes from the Old English word “innung,” meaning “a taking in” or “a putting in.” The first known use of “innings” in cricket occurred in 1735, referring to “a team’s turn in action in a game.” Thus, an inning refers to that period of time in a game during which a team “puts in” its time at the plate.
This is an interesting infographic. A lot of these bits of trivia I already knew, though some were new to me. I do question the bit about Forbes Field — there seems to be a lot of debate over what actually qualifies for the title of “first field” in America. First stadium might have been more accurate phrasing, though that’s probably debatable, too.
Baseball is full of physics lessons, and I find that I enjoy learning them. Here’s a good graphic on how a baseball makes its way from the mound to home plate.