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.
Here’s an informative infographic explaining the basic physics of the knuckleball. I find the the information about the illusion of the pitch’s movement to be especially fascinating.
Framing is the art of making a pitch that is near the strike zone appear to be a strike when it may not actually be one. A catcher, who can frame well, can be extremely helpful to a pitcher working the corners of the plate and has been particularly valuable in the major leagues. The act of framing is a very subtle tactic, an action which occurs just as the catcher catches the ball. Since no umpire is ever going to be fooled by a jerk of the glove to drag a pitch back to the strike zone, successful framing is a very slight action, almost indiscernible.
ESPN did this fascinating feature story, “You Got Framed,” discussing the value of a catcher who can turn a borderline pitch into a called strike. The increase in strikeouts in the major leagues, they argue, is not merely due to the propensity of hitters to swing for the fences. It also has to do with the increase in catchers who are successful at framing.
The act of framing isn’t foolproof, of course, and I’m sure that umpires do sometimes feel as Laz Diaz is comically depicted in this Onion article. “You catchers seem to think that I was born yesterday. Some of you even believe you can fool me by holding your glove there for an extra long time, as if to say, ‘See, I’m holding it here like this because it was a strike.’ Well, this umpire is not falling for that. Not today, not ever.”
I love this image. It reflects the idea that, technically, a ballpark does not end with the outfield wall, but rather that the foul lines extend to infinity. With that in mind, there is very little of America that doesn’t actually belong to a Major League Baseball field. You’ll also notice that no Major League Baseball field in the country reaches out to the west. It’s an observation that makes this image go well with this one.
Click on the image below for a larger view.
I feel like, in baseball, there tends to be a lot of focus on the composition of the bat and of the ball, but so little attention is paid to the glove. And it’s a shame, really, because the baseball glove is one of the best parts of the game. The way a well-made glove fits, the smell of the leather, the struggle to break in a new glove properly, how there are different types of gloves for the different positions… Here’s an infographic describing the process of how these wonderful tools are made. It’s fascinating how much of the process is still completed by hand.
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