DemDaily: Understanding Baseball

March 30, 2023

Today is opening day of the 2023 Baseball Season, a holiday on the DemList calendar. In celebration, we felt a primer on baseball may be iin order for our followers.

Major League Baseball (MLB) is comprised of two leagues, American and National, with three divisions in each -- West, Cental and East -- and four to six teams in each division. The regular season runs from the end of March to the end of September, with each club playing 162 games.

The Schedule & New Rules
The league introduced sweeping changes to the sport this offseason, beginning with the game schedule: each team in the MLB will now play every other team at least once, as clubs do in the NBA, NHL, and UEFA soccer leagues.

The most impactful changes, however, were made to gameplay, with the goal of accelerating pace of play, shortening game time, and increasing the sport's overall entertainment value. The league will now use a 15-second pitch clock, which limits the amount of time pitchers have to throw the ball to the batter. The pitcher is also allowed only two "disengagements" -- attempts to catch a runner off his base and throw him out -- per at-bat.

The league has also banned infield shifts -- defensive maneuvering before a pitch to anticipate the direction of a batted ball. This change is intended to increase the number of ground balls that result in actual play, and make the game more entertaining and aesthetically pleasing.

The Playoffs: The MLB introduced a new postseason format in 2022. Twelve teams now go to the playoffs -- six each from the American and National Leagues, comprising the winners of each league's three divisions and three Wild Card teams. The playoffs for each league consist of two best-of-three Wild Card series, two best-of-five Division Series, and a best-of-seven League Championship Series.

Wild Card: Wild Card teams have the three best records in each league, after the division winners. Each wild card series is a best-of-three contest played in as many days, with the winners advancing to face the top seeds in each league in a Division Series. Last season, the six-seeded National League Wild Card Philadelphia Phillies advanced all the way to the World Series, which they lost 4-2 to the American League Houston Astros.

The winners of the American League Championship Series (ALCS) and the National League Championship Series (NLCS) play each other in the best-of-seven World Series.

For Fun: The Congressional Baseball Game for Charity is an annual event held to raise money for DC-area charity organizations. Originated in 1909, the game has become a popular fixture of the congressional schedule and raised millions for its chosen philanthropy.

Both House and Senate members participate, divided into their respective parties. Republicans lead the all-time count, having won the bout 44 times to Democrats' 42 victories, with a single draw between the sides in 1983. The 2023 Congressional Baseball Game is scheduled for June 24 at Nationals Park.

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Kimberly Scott
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