There are three major rules codes, which differ only slightly.
The official baseball rules govern all professional play in the United States and Canada. The rules are published in book form in North America by The Sporting News, and are available online. Many amateur and youth leagues use the "OBR" with only a few modifications for safety. U.S. collegiate and college-age play is often covered by the baseball rulebook of the NCAA; and U.S. high school and high school-age baseball is governed by the NFHS rules. IBAF international teams, most leagues outside North America, and youth baseball organizations such as Little League, PONY League, and Cal Ripken League all play under slightly modified versions of the Official Baseball Rules.
Unlike many other sports, the Official Baseball Rules have remained largely static during the modernization of the game. This is evidenced in much esoteric or awkward language in the rulebook; also, rules experts such as Chris Jaksa and Rick Roder have identified over 50 outright errors in the book, mostly concerning rare or subtle differences. Many baseball players, fans, and administrators view the rules and traditions of professional baseball as time-tested and nearly sacrosanct. The designated hitter rule, first introduced to play over 30 years ago in 1973, is still subject to lively debate and has been adopted by only one of the two American major leagues and one of the two Japanese major leagues — though almost all other leagues around the world have adopted it. In fact, NFHS rules allow the designated hitter to bat for any position. In contrast to the Official Baseball Rules, the NFHS is continually refining and updating its rule book to meet the needs of the United States high school game. The NCAA updates its rulebook less often the NFHS, but still more current.
However, the static nature of the rules has also been a source of the sport's appeal to many fans, as it allows reasonable comparisons to be drawn between players and teams of different eras. Such comparisons are not possible in sports in which the rules have changed significantly over the years. The static nature of the rules also allows a modern fan to easily follow an account of a game played long ago. As a result, baseball has more of a "history" than most other sports. As an illustration of this, many newspaper sports sections publish a small This Day in Baseball History feature with highlights of games played as far back as 100 years or more.
In Japan, if a regular-season game is tied after nine innings, only three extra innings may be played. The accepted codes of etiquette also differ in Japanese baseball, though these are not written in official rules.
Other major differences often center around additional safety rules. Most amateur leagues prohibit malicious contact by runners, are stricter on interference calls, and require double-earflap helmets.
Baseball is played between two teams of nine players each on a baseball field, under the authority of one or more officials, called umpires. There are usually four umpires in major league games; up to six (and as few as one) may officiate depending on the league and the importance of the game. There are four bases. Numbered counter-clockwise, first, second and third bases are cushions (sometimes informally referred to as bags) shaped as 15 in (38 cm) squares which are raised a short distance above the ground; together with home plate, the fourth "base," they form a square with sides of 90 ft (27.4 m) called the diamond. Home base (plate) is a pentagonal rubber slab known as simply home. The playing field is divided into three main sections:
The pitcher's mound is located in the center of the infield. It is an 18 foot (5.5 m) diameter mound of dirt no higher than 10 inches (25.4 cm). Near the center of the mound is the pitching rubber, a rubber slab positioned 60 feet 6 inches (18.4 m) from home plate. The pitcher must have one foot on the rubber at the start of every pitch to a batter, but the pitcher may leave the mound area once the ball is released.
At the college/professional level, baseball is played in nine innings in which each team gets one turn to bat and try to score runs while the other pitches and defends in the field. High school baseball plays seven innings and Little League uses six inning games. An inning is broken up into two halves in which the away team bats in the top (first) half, and the home team bats in the bottom (second) half. In baseball, the defense always has the ball — a fact that differentiates it from most other team sports. The teams switch every time the defending team gets three players of the batting team out. The winner is the team with the most runs after nine innings. If the home team is ahead after the top of the ninth, play does not continue into the bottom half. In the case of a tie, additional innings are played until one team comes out ahead at the end of an inning. If the home team takes the lead anytime during the bottom of the ninth or of any inning thereafter, play stops and the home team is declared the winner.
The basic contest is always between the pitcher for the fielding team, and a batter. The pitcher throws—pitches—the ball towards home plate, where the catcher for the fielding team waits (in a crouched stance) to receive it. Behind the catcher stands the home plate umpire. The batter stands in one of the batter's boxes and tries to hit the ball with a bat. The pitcher must keep one foot in contact with the top or front of the pitcher's rubber — a 24" x 6" (~ 61 cm x 15 cm) plate located atop the pitcher's mound — during the entire pitch, so he can only take one step backward and one forward in delivering the ball. The catcher's job is to receive any pitches that the batter does not hit and to "call" the game by a series of hand movements that signal to the pitcher what pitch to throw and where. If the pitcher disagrees with the call, he will "shake off" the catcher by shaking his head; he accepts the sign by nodding. Each team has a different set of signals, though the number 1 is almost universal as a fast ball. The catcher also usually signals the desired location of the ball within the strike zone and "sets up" behind the plate or holds his glove up in the desired location as a target. The catcher's role becomes more crucial depending on how the game is going, and how the pitcher responds to a given situation. Each pitch begins a new play, which might consist of nothing more than the pitch itself.
Each half-inning, the goal of the defending team is to get three members of the other team out. A player who is out must leave the field and wait for his next turn at bat. There are many ways to get batters and baserunners out; some of the most common are catching a batted ball in the air, tag outs, force outs, and strikeouts. After the fielding team has put out three players from the opposing team, that half of the inning is over and the team in the field and the team at bat switch places; there is no upper limit to the number that may bat in rotation before three outs are recorded. Going through the entire order in an inning is referred to as "batting around". It is indicative of a high scoring inning. A complete inning consists of each opposing side having a turn (three outs) on offense.
The goal of the team at bat is to score more runs than the opposition; a player may do so only by batting, then becoming a baserunner, touching all the bases in order (via one or more plays), and finally touching home plate. To that end, the goal of each batter is to enable baserunners to score or to become a baserunner himself. The batter attempts to hit the ball into fair territory — between the baselines — in such a way that the defending players cannot get them or the baserunners out. In general, the pitcher attempts to prevent this by pitching the ball in such a way that the batter cannot hit it cleanly or, ideally, at all.
A baserunner who successfully touches home plate without being tagged out after touching all previous bases in order scores a run. In an enclosed field, a fair ball hit over the fence on the fly is normally an automatic home run, which entitles the batter and all runners to touch all the bases and score. A home run hit with all bases occupied ('bases loaded') is called a grand slam.
The squad in the field is the defensive team; they attempt to prevent the baserunners from scoring. There are nine defensive positions, but only two have a mandatory location (pitcher and catcher). The locations of the other seven fielders is not specified by the rules, except that at the moment the pitch is delivered they must be positioned in fair territory and not in the space between the pitcher and the catcher. These fielders often shift their positioning in response to specific batters or game situations, and they may exchange positions with one another at any time. The nine positions most commonly used (with the number scorekeepers use) are: pitcher (1), catcher (2), first baseman (3), second baseman (4), third baseman (5), shortstop (6), left fielder (7), center fielder (8), and right fielder (9). Note that, in rare cases, teams may use dramatically differing schemes, such as switching an outfielder for an infielder. The numbering convention was established by Henry Chadwick. The reason the shortstop seems out of order has to do with the way fielders positioned themselves in the early years of the game.
The pitcher's main role is to pitch the ball toward home plate with the goal of getting the batter out. Pitchers also play defense by fielding batted balls, covering bases (for a potential tag out or force out on an approaching runner), or backing up throws. The catcher's main role is to receive the pitch if the batter does not hit it. Together with the pitcher and coaches, the catcher plots game strategy by suggesting different pitches and by shifting the starting positions of the other fielders. Catchers are also responsible for defense in the area near home plate.
The first baseman's job consists largely of making plays at first base on ground balls hit to the other infielders. When an infielder picks up a ball from the ground hit by the batter, he must throw it to the first baseman who must catch the ball and maintain contact with the base before the batter gets to it for the batter to be out. The need to do this quickly often requires the first baseman to stretch one of his legs to touch first base while catching the ball simultaneously. The first baseman must be able to catch the ball very well and usually wears a specially designed mitt. The first baseman fields balls hit near first base. The first baseman also has to receive throws from the pitcher in order to tag runners out who have reached base safely. The position is less physically challenging than the other positions, but there is still a lot of skill involved. Infielders don't always make good throws to first base, so it is the first baseman's job to field any ball thrown toward him cleanly. Older players who can no longer fulfill the demands of their original positions also often become first basemen.
The second baseman covers the area to the first-base side of second base and provides backup for the first baseman in bunt situations. He also is a cut-off for the outfield. This is when the outfielder doesn't have to throw the full distance from him/her to the base, but just to the cut-off. The shortstop fills the critical gap between second and third bases — where right-handed batters generally hit ground balls — and also covers second or third base and the near part of left field. This player is also a cut-off for the outfield. This position is the most demanding defensively, so a good shortstop doesn't need to necessarily be a good batter. The third baseman's primary requirement is a strong throwing arm, in order to make the long throw across the infield to the first baseman. Quick reaction time is also important for third basemen, as they tend to see more sharply hit balls than the other infielders, thus the nickname for third base as the "hot corner." Also, because there are far more right-handed hitters than lefties, there are more ground balls hit to the left side of the infield due to the natural motion of the batter's swing.
Effective pitching is vitally important to a baseball team, as pitching is the key for the defensive team to retire batters and to preventing runners from getting on base. A full game usually involves over one hundred pitches thrown by each team. However, most pitchers begin to tire before they reach this point. In previous eras, pitchers would often throw up to four complete games (all nine innings) in a week. With new advances in medical research and thus a better understanding of how the human body functions and tires out, starting pitchers tend more often to throw fractions of a game (typically six or seven innings, depending on their performance) about every five days (though a few complete games do still occur each year).
Multiple pitchers are often needed in a single game, including the starting pitcher and relief pitcher(s). Pitchers are substituted for one another like any other player (see below), and the rules do not limit the number of pitchers that can be used in a game; the only limiting factor is the size of the squad, naturally. In general, starting pitchers are not used in relief situations except sometimes during the post-season when every game is vital. If a game runs into many extra innings, a team may well empty its bullpen. If it then becomes necessary to use a "position player" as a pitcher, major league teams generally have certain players pre-designated as emergency relief pitchers, to avoid the embarrassment of using a less skillful player. In baseball's early years, squads were smaller, and relief pitchers were relatively uncommon, with the starter normally remaining for the entire game unless he was either thoroughly ineffective or became injured; today, with a much greater emphasis on pitch count (100 being the "magic number" in general), over the course of a single game each team will frequently use from two to five pitchers. In the 2005 ALCS, all four of the Chicago White Sox victories were complete games by the starters, a highly noteworthy event in the modern game.
While delivering the ball, the pitcher has a great arsenal at his disposal in the variation of location, velocity, movement, and arm location (see types of pitches). Most pitchers attempt to master two or three types of pitches; some pitchers throw up to 6 types of pitches with varying degrees of control. Common pitches include a fastball, which is the ball thrown at high speed; a curveball, which is made to curve by rotation imparted by the pitcher; and a change-up, which seeks to mimic the delivery of a fastball but arrives at significantly lower velocity.
To illustrate pitching strategy, consider the "fastball/change-up" combination: The average major-league pitcher can throw a fastball around 90 miles per hour (145 km/h), and a few pitchers have even exceeded 100 miles per hour (161 km/h). The change-up is thrown somewhere between 75 to 85 miles per hour (121 to 137 km/h). Since the batter's timing is critical to hitting a pitch, a batter swinging to hit what looks like a fastball, would be terribly fooled (swing and miss, hopefully) when the pitch turns out to be a much slower change-up.
Some pitchers choose to throw using the 'submarine style,' a very efficient sidearm or near-underhand motion. Pitchers with a submarine delivery are often very difficult to hit because of the angle and movement of the ball once released. Walter Johnson, who threw one of the fastest fastballs in the history of the game, threw sidearm (though not submarine) rather than a normal overhand. True underhanded pitching is permitted in Major League Baseball. However, it is difficult to generate enough velocity and movement with the underhand motion. Among Major League pitchers today, Chad Bradford has the closest to an underhand delivery, with his knuckles sometimes scraping the ground. However, he is still usually considered a "submarine" pitcher.
Only the pitcher's and catcher's locations are fixed, and then only at the beginning of each pitch. Thus, the players on the field move around as needed to defend against scoring a run. Many variations of this are possible, as location depends upon the situation. Circumstances such as the number of outs, the count (balls and strikes) on the batter, the number and speed of runners, the ability of the fielders, the ability of the pitcher, the type of pitch thrown, the tendencies of the hitter, and the inning cause the fielders to move to more strategic locations on the field. Common defensive strategies include: playing for the bunt, trying to prevent a stolen base, moving to a shallow position to throw out a runner at home, playing at "double play depth", and moving fielders to locations where hitters are most likely to hit the ball.
A batter's turn at the plate is called a plate appearance. Batters can advance to first base safely in one of seven methods: a base-hit (abbreviated 'H') or walk ('BB' for base-on-balls) are by far the most common; being hit-by-the-pitch ('HBP'), reaching by error ('E') or fielder's choice ('FC') are less common; and somewhat rarely a player may reach base by virtue of interference ('I') or a passed ball ('PB') on a strike-out, where the player is allowed to run and reach base safely if he can. When the batter hits a fair ball, he must run to first base, and may continue or stop at any base unless he is put out. A successful hit occurs when the batter reaches a base: reaching only first base is a single; reaching second base, a double; third base, a triple; and a hit that allows the batter to touch all bases in order on the same play is a home run - whether the ball is hit over the fence does not matter (if the ball is not hit over the fence and the batter touches all bases, it is usually referred to as an "inside-the-park home run"). Once a runner is held to a base, he may attempt to advance at any time, but is not required to do so unless the batter or another runner displaces him (called a force play). A batter always drops his bat when running the bases; otherwise, the bat would slow him down and could give rise to a call of interference if it were to contact the ball or a fielder.
Depending on the way the ball comes off the bat, the play has different names. A batted ball is called a fly ball if it is hit in the air in an upward arc, such that a fielder might be able to catch it before it hits the ground. A batted ball is called a ground ball if it hits the ground within the infield before it can be caught, often due to being hit in a downward trajectory. Several different names are used to describe fly balls, depending on their trajectory. A ball hit high in the air and seemingly almost straight up is called a "pop-up". A ball hit forcefully in a fast-moving and seemingly almost straight-line trajectory is called a line drive. A "shallow" fly ball, hit with just enough force to possibly land between the infielders and the outfielders, is often call a "blooper". A "deep" fly ball is hit with enough force to approach and possibly clear the outfield fence.
When a ball is hit outside the foul lines, it is a foul ball, requiring the batter and all runners to return to their respective bases, whether it is caught or not.
Once the batter and any existing runners have all stopped at a base or been put out, the ball is returned to the pitcher, and the next batter comes to the plate. After the opposing team bats in its own order and three more outs are recorded, the first team's batting order will continue again from where it left off.
When a runner reaches home plate, he scores a run and is no longer a base runner. He must leave the playing area until his spot in the order comes up again. A runner may only circle the bases once per plate appearance and thus can score no more than a single run.
On any pitch, if the batter swings at the ball and misses, he is charged with a strike. If the batter does not swing, the home plate umpire judges whether the ball passed through the strike zone. If the ball, or any part of it, passed through the zone, it is ruled a strike; otherwise, it is called a ball. The number of balls and strikes thrown to the current batter is known as the count; the count is always given balls first (except in Japan, where it is reversed), then strikes (such as 3-2 or "three and two", also known as a "full count," which would be 3 balls and 2 strikes).
If the batter swings and makes contact with the ball, but does not put it in play in fair territory—a foul ball—he is charged with an additional strike, except when there are already two strikes. Thus, a foul ball with two strikes leaves the count unchanged. (However, a noted exception to this rule is that a ball bunted foul with two strikes is a strikeout.) If a pitch is batted foul or fair and a member of the defensive team is able to catch it, before the ball strikes the ground, the batter is declared out. In the event that a bat contacts the ball, but the ball continues sharply and directly to the catcher's mitt and is caught by the catcher, it is a foul tip, which is same as an ordinary strike.
When three strikes occur on a batter, it is a strikeout and the batter is automatically out unless the pitch is not caught by the catcher or if the pitch bounces before it is caught. It is then ruled an uncaught third strike, a violation of the third strike rule: If the catcher drops the third strike the batter is permitted to attempt to advance to first base. In this case, the batter is not out (although the pitcher is awarded a strikeout). The catcher can try to get the batter out by tagging him with the ball or throwing the ball to first base to put him out. (See Doug Eddings (2005 ALCS) and Mickey Owen (1941 World Series) for famous examples of dropped third strikes that dramatically altered the course of post-season series.)
On the fourth ball, it is called a walk, and the batter becomes a runner, and is entitled to advance to first base without risk of being put out, called a base on balls or a walk (abbreviated BB). If a pitch touches the batter (or the batter's clothes), the umpire declares a hit by pitch (abbreviated HBP) and the batter is awarded first base, unless the umpire determines that the ball was in the strike zone when it hit the batter, or that the batter did not attempt to avoid being hit. In practice, neither exception is ever called unless the batter obviously tries to get hit by the pitch; even standing still in the box will virtually always be overlooked, and the batter awarded first. In addition, if the batter swings at a pitch that hits him, it counts as a strike. If the catcher's mitt, catcher's mask, or any part of the catcher comes in contact with the batter and/or the batter's bat as the batter is attempting to hit a pitch, the batter is awarded first base, ruled "catcher's interference".
Once a batter becomes a runner and reaches first base safely, he is said to be "on" that base until he attempts to advance to the next base, until he is put out, or until the half-inning ends. When comparing two or more runners on the basepaths, the runner farther along is called a lead runner or a preceding runner; the other runner is called a trailing runner or a following runner. Runners on second or third base are considered to be in scoring position since ordinary hits, even singles, will often allow them to score.
A runner legally touching a base is "safe"—he may not be put out. Runners may attempt to advance from base to base at any time (except when the ball is dead), but must attempt to advance when forced--when all previous bases are occupied and the batter becomes a runner. When a ball is hit in the air, a fly ball, and caught by the defending team, runners must return and touch the base they occupied at the time of the pitch—called tagging up—after the ball is first touched by a fielder. Once they do this, they may attempt to advance at their own risk.
Only one runner may occupy a base at a time; if two runners are touching a base at once, the trailing runner is in jeopardy and will be out if tagged, unless he was forced--in which case the lead runner is out when tagged for failing to reach his force base. Either such occurrence is very rare. Thus, after a play, at most three runners may be on the basepaths, one on each base--first, second, and third. When three runners are on base, this is called bases loaded.
Baserunners may attempt to advance, or steal a base, while the pitcher is throwing a pitch. The pitcher, in lieu of delivering the pitch, may try to prevent this by throwing the ball to one of the infielders in order to tag the runner; if successful, it is called a pick-off. If the runner attempts to steal the next base but is tagged out before reaching it safely, he is caught stealing. An illegal attempt by the pitcher to deceive a runner, among other pitching violations, is called a balk, allowing the runners to advance one base without risk of being put out.
Another fundamental tenet of the rules of baseball is that a runner originally ruled out can subsequently be ruled safe, but once a runner is ruled safe he cannot be called out on the same play. A runner initially called out can be subsequently ruled safe if the fielder putting the runner out drops the ball (on either a tag or force play), pulls his foot off the base (in the case of a force play), or otherwise illegally obstructs a runner from reaching a base that he otherwise would have reached safely.
Batters attempt to "read" pitchers through pre-game preparation by studying the tendencies of pitchers and by talking to other batters that previously faced the pitcher. While batting, batters attempt to "read" pitches by looking for clues that the pitcher or catcher reveal. These clues (also referred to as "tipping pitches") include movements of the pitcher's arms, shoulders, body, etc, or the positioning of the catcher's feet and glove. Batters can attempt to "read" the spin of a ball early in the pitch to anticipate its trajectory. Batters also remain keenly aware of the count during their at bat. The count is considered to be in the batter's favor when there are more balls than strikes (e.g.two balls and no strikes). This puts pressure on the pitcher to throw a strike to avoid a walk so the batter is more likely to get an easier pitch to hit and can look for a particular pitch in a particular zone or take a riskier or bigger swing. The count is considered to be in the pitcher's favor when there are fewer balls than strikes (e.g. no balls and two strikes). This gives the pitcher more freedom to try enticing the batter to swing at a pitch outside the strike zone or throwing a pitch that is harder to control (e.g. a curve, slider or splitter), but that is also harder to hit. Thus the batter will take a more protective swing. A major strategy in batting at competitive levels of baseball is patient hitting. An example of patient hitting is when a batter has a zero strike count the batter will almost always look for his perfect pitch. One strike hitting is very similar to no strike hitting and the batter usually is still looking for a good pitch to hit. Two strike hitting, the strategy is changed where the batter will protect the plate by fouling off pitches until the batter is able to find a pitch to hit. This style of hitting is known as patience at the plate. This style of hitting allows the hitter to look for a good pitch to hit and make the pitcher throw more pitches so that the pitcher will tire out faster. This is critical if the batting team is facing a very skilled pitcher who if allowed to will take over the game with his ability to get batters to do what he wants them to do with the pitches that he makes.
In general, base running is a tactical part of the game requiring good judgment by runners (and their coaches) to assess the risk in attempting to advance. During tag plays, a good slide can affect the outcome of the play. Managers will sometimes simultaneously send a runner and require the batter to swing (a hit-and-run play) in an attempt to advance runners. On a hit-and-run play the batter will often try to hit to the opposite field (the opposite of the natural tendency for the right-handed hitter to pull the ball to left field and vice versa). Hitting to the opposite field will likely find an opening in the infield vacated by the fielder covering second base. This is because coverage of second base against a steal is best achieved by whichever fielder is closer to second base, the shortstop or the second baseman; and such positioning is aimed at defending against the natural tendency of the hitter.
A batter can also attempt to move a baserunner forward by "sacrificing" his at-bat. This can be done by bunting the ball, hitting a fly ball far enough in the air that a baserunner can advance after the catch, or simply making contact with the ball on a hit-and-run play.
During the course of play many offensive and defensive players run close to each other, and during tag plays, the defensive player must touch the offensive player. Although baseball is considered a non-contact sport, a runner may be allowed to make potentially dangerous contact with a fielder as part of an attempt to reach base, unless that fielder is fielding a batted ball. (Noted exceptions to the dangerous contact rule are found throughout amateur competitions, including youth leagues, high school, and college baseball.) A good slide is often more advantageous than such contact, and "malicious" contact by runners is typically prohibited as offensive interference. The most common occurrence of contact of this nature is at home plate between the runner and the catcher, as the catcher is well padded and locked into position that completely blocks home plate from the runner, and the runner will often try to knock the ball out of the catcher's hand by running him over. Since the catcher is seen (symbolically and literally) as the last line of defense, it seems natural that the more physical play happens here.
If both teams have scored the same number of runs at the end of a regular-length game, a tie is avoided by the addition of extra innings. As many innings as necessary are played until one team has the lead at the end of an inning. Thus, the home team always has a chance to respond if the visiting team scores in the top half of the inning; this gives the home team a small tactical advantage. In theory, a baseball game could go on forever; in practice, however, they eventually end. In addition to that rule, a game might theoretically end if both the home and away team were to run out of players to substitute (see Substitutions, below). In Major League Baseball, the longest game played was a 26-inning affair between the Brooklyn Robins and Boston Braves on May 1, 1920. The game, called on account of darkness, ended in a 1-1 tie. Two minor-league teams, the Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings, played a 33-inning game in 1981.
In Major League Baseball, games end with tie scores only in rare cases when conditions make it impossible to continue play. A tie game does not count as an official game in the standings unless it is finished later or replayed; however, individual player statistics from tie games are counted. Inclement weather may also shorten games, but at least five innings must be played for the game to be considered official; four-and-a-half innings are enough if the home team is ahead. Previously, curfews and the absence of adequate lighting caused more ties and shortened games. Also, with more modern playing surfaces better able to handle light rains, the process for calling or shortening a game due to weather has changed; it is more common than in the past to delay a game as much as 2 hours before a cancellation; also, a delay usually does not occur anymore until the rain is moderate-heavy and/or there is standing water on some part of the playing field.
In Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball, if the score remains tied after nine innings, up to three extra innings may be played before the game is called a tie. Some youth or amateur leagues will end a game early if one team is ahead by ten or more runs, a practice officially known as the "runs ahead rule" (sometimes referred to as a "mercy rule" or "slaughter rule"). Rarely, a game can also be won or lost by forfeit.
There is a short break between each half-inning during which the new defensive team takes the field and the pitcher warms up. Traditionally, the break between the top half and the bottom half of the seventh inning is known as the seventh-inning stretch. During the "stretch," fans in the United States often sing the chorus of Take Me Out to the Ball Game; since the September 11, 2001 attacks, God Bless America has often been added to it, especially at games in New York City.
It is common for a pitcher to pitch for several innings and then be removed in favor of a relief pitcher. Because pitching is a specialized skill, most pitchers are relatively poor hitters; it is common to substitute for a pitcher when he is due to bat. This pinch hitter is typically then replaced by a relief pitcher when the team returns to the field on defense, but more complicated substitutions are possible, most notably the double switch.
Many amateur leagues allow a starting player who was removed to return to the game in the same position in the batting order under a re-entry rule. Youth leagues often allow free and open substitution to encourage player participation.
The designated hitter (or DH) is a player whose sole purpose is to hit when it would normally be the pitcher's turn (or, if the pitcher is a good batter, another weaker batter). A few leagues, notably Major League Baseball's American League (which instituted the DH in 1973 to boost offensive output), allow designated hitters. This is not considered a substitution but rather a position, albeit a purely offensive one. A designated hitter does not play in the field on defense and may remain in the game regardless of changes in pitchers. The use of the designated hitter is opposed by many baseball traditionalists, but it is used today at most levels of baseball in the United States—high school, college, minor leagues—and internationally, including in the Olympics until Baseball's removal from the event. If the designated hitter is moved to a fielding position, the team loses the DH, and the fielder whose position was taken by the former DH is replaced by the pitcher, who assumes that player's position in the hitting lineup.
The number of players on a Major League roster is dictated by the labor agreements worked out between players and management. According to the current rules, a team may have a maximum of 25 men on a roster from Opening Day until August 31. After that, teams may call up additional personnel, up to a maximum of 40 players on the active roster, with the exception of the postseason, where rosters are fixed at 25 men. Until 2007, teams could not replace players on their playoff rosters in the event of an injury and had to play out the series shorthanded. Starting in 2007, an injured player could be replaced by another player not included on the initial 25-man roster, but the injured player is no longer eligible for the next round of the playoffs should his team advance.
MALL BUILDER COVERING BASES WITH PUSH FOR LOCAL SHOPPING FIRM'S SPOKANE VALLEY MALL A DRAW, BUT IT RECENTLY BOUGHT SILVER LAKE MALL
Jun 28, 1997; The company building the Spokane Valley Mall is curiously encouraging Idaho shoppers to stay at home. And on Friday, JP Realty...