Ways to watch a baseball game – go from casual watcher to advanced watcher
“Baseball is America’s pastime!” While we hear this phrase all the time, and I can personally attest to the fun of both playing and watching baseball, I am also not blind to the fact that many Americans do not necessarily share the same love of playing the game, let alone watching. However, in my opinion, much of this comes from people watching a baseball game without truly understanding the ins and outs that make watching a game so fun! That’s why I’m kicking off a few-blog series on how to go from a beginner-level viewer to an elite one. If you read my other blog about What You Need to Know About Baseball to Enjoy it, you’ll probably notice some crossover in this blog, but hopefully this is a little bit more specific and detailed to being a viewer. As an added resource, I will also be including some videos and people who might even be better than myself at explaining these things!
The Basic Rules
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but having a basic understanding of the rules of any game or sport will help tremendously when it comes to enjoying both watching and playing it, and baseball is no exception. So, let’s start out with the basics! Baseball is played by two teams of 9 players each. The team on defense (the one pitching) arranges 3 players in the outfield (left, center, right), 4 in the infield (1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, and shortstop), as well as a pitcher and catcher. Meanwhile, the team on offense sends one batter up at a time to hit the pitched ball, get to one base at a time, and ultimately get back to home plate where they started, which equals on run (or point). If the batter swings for a ball three times without hitting it (known as a strike each time) they are out. In short, three strikes = one out. Additionally, if they make contact with the ball and it is caught by the opposing team, the batter is out as well. After three outs, the teams switch sides, and repeat the process. Still confused, or just want to know more? Check out these youtube videos I found that do a good job of explaining even more about the rules of baseball.
Learning the lingo around baseball is a great way to improve your baseball knowledge and move you into that next tier of watcher. This can also help when watching a game with friends who know more than you, as it can make you seem like you know a little bit more about baseball than you actually might. Here are a couple important sayings to remember the next time you’re watching baseball. An “at-bat” is an official count of times a player steps up to home plate to attempt to hit the balls thrown by the pitchers. “Batting average” is a hitter’s total hits divided by the total number of “at-bats” they have. A “bullpen” is an area on the field designated for pitchers and catchers to warm up before a game. Speaking of pitchers, a “change up” is when a pitcher uses the same motion for a fastball, but intentionally lowers the speed of the pitch to throw the batter off. Another common pitch is a “curveball,” where the pitcher will put spin on the ball, making it swerve in ways uncommon when compared to a fastball. As you can probably guess, there is a whole more to learn about baseball lingo, and you can start that journey using the links below.
Keeping Track of Stats and Scoring
Knowing how and where to look in order to keep track of statistics and scoring in a game of baseball is a great way to ensure you always know what’s going on. That being said, I’ll be the first to acknowledge that it’s not always easy to keep track of everything going on in a baseball game. Some very basic stats that will come in handy to know when watching are RBIs, OBP,, and ERA. Never heard of these before? Well, let’s get into it! First on our list is RBI, which stands for “runs batted in.” As you may or may not know, a “run” (usually notated as “R”) is anytime a player passes homeplate, regardless of whether they were responsible for getting themselves there. Alternatively, a player receives an RBI when a teammate of theirs crosses home plate as a direct result of their actions. This most commonly occurs when the player hits a double, triple, homerun, or when the bases are loaded. OBP stands for “on-base percentage,” or the percentage of times a batter is able to hit a pitch and get to a base after the hit. Lastly, on the pitching side, is an ERA or an “earned run average.” A pitchers ERA represents the number of earned runs a pitcher allows per nine innings — with earned runs being any runs that are scored without the aid of an error or a passed ball. This is a lot, I know, and there is plenty more where that came from. Check out these helpful videos to learn more about stats and scoring.
These are just the basics, and there is so much more to talk about on our road to become elite baseball watchers, but don’t get overwhelmed! I will be working my hardest to make this process as easy on you as possible, and I hope you enjoyed this blog! Next time, I’ll enter into some facets of baseball that are in the more intermediate/advanced range.
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