What a fastball looks like

This is an interesting illustration that demonstrates the difference between what three different pitches look like as they hurtle towards home plate.  That four-seamer is quite the blur, and it seems you would need quite the discerning eye to distinguish between the two-seamer and the curveball.  Factor in how fast many pitches travel toward the plate, and it goes to show how much batters really need to be prepared for anything.

What a fastball looks like

ESPN the Magazine, 2014


Baseball 101: Base hit

The Baseball 101 series is one that I started a long time ago with a vague idea that it’d be nice to sprinkle in some posts for folks who aren’t familiar with the game, but would like to learn more.  This has, admittedly, fallen a bit by the wayside.  As someone who has been a fan of the game for years, and knowing that much of my audience have the same kind of familiarity, the idea of writing about something as fundamental as a base hit seems like unnecessary overkill.

However, while visiting family this weekend, I learned that my sixteen-year-old nephew is not familiar with the rules of baseball (the real irony here being that his father had once played college baseball — that affinity for the game evidently didn’t get passed on).  This discovery has me thinking again that there might be some value in this after all.

See the source image

Therefore, today we shall define the base hit. In baseball score keeping, a hit is credited to a batter when that batter safely reaches base after hitting the ball into fair territory. The batter must reach first base before any fielder can either tag him with the ball, throw to another player protecting the base for a force out, or tag first base while carrying the ball. The batter must also reach base without the benefit of an error or a fielder’s choice in order for the at-bat to count as a hit.

The hit is scored the moment the batter reaches first base safely. A hit may be classified as a single (reaching first base), double (second base), triple (third base), or home run (making it all the way around the bases to score), depending on how far the batter makes it around the bases safely. If he is put out while attempting to stretch his hit into a double, triple, or home run on the same play, he still gets credit for a hit, based on how far he made it safely.

Doubles, triples, and home runs are also called extra base hits. All four types of hits are counted equally when figuring a player’s batting average, though other statistics may be impacted differently.

See the source image


Creating plaques for the Baseball Hall of Fame

This video from 2015 is fascinating to watch.  What a job that must be for Matthews International, to have the privilege to make these plaques!  The Hall of Fame is already a treat to visit, but the story behind the creation of the plaques makes it all the more awe-inspiring.


Nokona baseball gloves

This little documentary is less than seven minutes long, and it is a fun watch.  Not only do you learn some things about Nokona baseball gloves, you get to watch the process of a ball glove getting made.  And I love the fact that the work shirts worn by Nokona employees are baseball jerseys.


Infographic: How to Dress to Play Baseball

This infographic is obviously intended more for amusement and sales promotion than anything else, but one might find some useful tips listed all the same.  What I’d really like to find is a graphic on how to dress as a baseball fan attending a game as a spectator.  I’ve seen Royals fans show up to a game against the White Sox in gray or black t-shirts — not that this is a crime, but it makes it confusing for anyone to know who you’re really rooting for.

how-to-dress-to-play-baseball infographic


Road grays

When you turn on a Major League Baseball game, you can often tell within moments which team is the home team and which is the away team.  The common practice by teams in the MLB is to wear white (or mostly white) uniforms at home and to wear gray (or mostly gray) unis when on the road.

While this is a regular exercise now, baseball legend has it that this tradition began due to the fact that visiting teams had no access to laundry facilities, and so the players were not able to clean their uniforms. The darker uniforms, or the “road grays,” could conceal the dirt and grass stains better than white uniforms.

Not every team does this today, of course.  And given better access to laundry facilities, they don’t need to.  But it’s an interesting story and practice, all the same.

Road jerseys gray


Baseball 101: The closer

A couple days ago, a baseball neophyte friend of mine asked me, “In baseball, what is a closer?”  And as I explained the concept, it occurred to me that I haven’t done one of these posts in awhile.

In baseball, a closing pitcher, more commonly referred to as a closer, is a relief pitcher who typically enters the game in the final inning.  Ideally, the closer’s team will be leading on the scoreboard at that point, and so the closer’s job is to “close” the game, getting the final outs of that final inning.

A closer’s effectiveness has traditionally been measured by the number of saves he earns.  A save is a statistic credited to a relief pitcher, as set forth in Rule 9.19 of the Official Rules of Major League Baseball.  The rule states that the official scorer shall credit a pitcher with a save when that pitcher meets all four of the following conditions:

  1. He is the finishing pitcher in a game won by his team;
  2. He is not the winning pitcher;
  3. He is credited with at least ⅓ of an inning pitched; and
  4. He satisfies one of the following conditions:
    1. He enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning
    2. He enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, at bat or on deck
    3. He pitches for at least three innings.

Over time, closers have become one-inning specialists typically brought in at the beginning of the ninth inning in save situations.  They enter the game facing the high pressure that comes with having to seal those last three outs and, thus, a win for their club, which makes their role a rather essential one to a team’s success.

Mariano Rivera is MLB’s all-time leader in regular season saves with 652.

Mariano Rivera

Mariano Rivera