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Major League Baseball
Current season or competition:
2010 Major League Baseball season
Major League Baseball.svg
Major League Baseball
Sport Baseball
Founded 1869
Commissioner Bud Selig [1]
No. of teams 30 [2]
Country(ies)  United States
 Canada
Most recent champion(s) New York Yankees
Most championships New York Yankees (27) [3]
TV partner(s) Fox, ESPN, TBS, MLB Network
Official website MLB.com

Major League Baseball (MLB) is the highest level of play in North American professional baseball. Specifically, Major League Baseball refers to the organization that operates the National League and the American League, by means of a joint organizational structure that has developed gradually between them since 1901 (the National League having been in existence since 1876). In 2000, the two leagues were officially disbanded as separate legal entities with all their rights and functions consolidated in the commissioner's office.[4] MLB effectively operates as a single league and as such it constitutes one of the major professional sports leagues of the United States. It is currently composed of 30 teams—29 in the United States and one in Canada. In conjunction with the International Baseball Federation, MLB also manages the World Baseball Classic.

Each season consists of 162 games (with an additional game, or games, in case of a tie breaker needed to determine postseason participation), which generally begins on the first Sunday in April and ends on the first Sunday in October, with the postseason played in October and sometimes into early November. The same rules and regulations are played between the two leagues with one exception: the American League operates under the Designated Hitter Rule, while the National League does not. Utilization of the DH Rule in interleague play, the All-Star and World Series games is determined by the home team's league rules.

MLB is controlled by the Major League Baseball Constitution that has undergone several incarnations since 1876 with the most recent revisions being made in 2005. Under the direction of Commissioner of Baseball (currently Bud Selig), Major League Baseball hires and maintains the sport's umpiring crews, and negotiates marketing, labor, and television contracts. As is the case for most of the sports leagues in the United States and Canada, the "closed shop" aspect of MLB effectively prevents the yearly promotion and relegation of teams into and out of Major League Baseball by virtue of their performance. Major League Baseball maintains a unique, controlling relationship over the sport, including most aspects of minor league baseball. This is due in large part to a 1922 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Federal Baseball Club v. National League, which held that baseball is not interstate commerce and therefore not subject to federal antitrust law. This ruling has been weakened only slightly in subsequent years.[5][6]

The production/multimedia wing of MLB is New York–based MLB Advanced Media, which oversees MLB.com and all 30 of the individual teams' websites. Its charter states that MLB Advanced Media holds editorial independence from the League itself, but it is indeed under the same ownership group and revenue-sharing plan. MLB Productions is a similarly-structured wing of the league, focusing on video and traditional broadcast media.

Contents

League organization

Major leagues in North America
National Football League (NFL) Sport football.svg
Major League Baseball (MLB) Baseball.svg
National Basketball Association (NBA) Basketball Clipart.svg
National Hockey League (NHL) Ice hockey puck.svg

Major League Baseball is divided into two leagues — the American League, with fourteen teams, and the National League, with sixteen teams. Each league is further subdivided into three divisions, labeled East, Central, and West. The unequal balance of teams, into even-sized leagues, prevented the need for interleague games to fill schedules (which two, odd-sized, fifteen-team leagues would have required). In 1998, the Milwaukee Brewers moved from the American League to the National League, to make the National League a 16-team league. Before the 1998 season, the American League and the National League each added a fifteenth team. Because of the odd number of teams, only seven games could possibly be scheduled in each league on any given day. Thus, one team in each league would have to be idle on any given day. This would have made it difficult for scheduling, in terms of travel days and the need to end the season before October. To avoid this problem, Milwaukee agreed to change leagues.

Even though the two leagues have been historically separate, that distinction has all but disappeared. In 1903, the two leagues began to meet in an end-of-year championship series called the World Series. In 1920, the weak National Commission, which had been created to manage relationships between the two leagues, was replaced with an all-powerful Commissioner of Baseball, who had the power to make decisions for all of professional baseball unilaterally. The two leagues remained distinct, in terms of their playing schedule, except for the annual All-Star Game and the World Series, until 1997 when regular-season, interleague play began. In 2000, the American and National Leagues were dissolved as legal entities, and Major League Baseball became a singular league de jure, although it had operated as a de facto single entity for many years.

History

Differing definitions of MLB's founding year

For its founding year, Major League Baseball (the current official organization) uses 1869—the year in which the first professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, was established—and held official celebrations for its 100th anniversary in 1969 and its 125th anniversary in 1994, both of which were commemorated with league-wide shoulder patches. The present-day Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves franchises trace their histories back to the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players in the early 1870s. Many believe that the formation of the National League in 1876 is the beginning of Major League Baseball. Others believe the signing of the National Agreement in 1903 (two seasons after the American League's formation in 1901) is the true beginning of Major League Baseball.

Founding

The first attempt at a national major league was the short-lived National Association, which existed from 1871 to 1875. Two present-day Major League franchises—the Atlanta Braves and the Chicago Cubs—can trace their origins to the National Association.

Currently, there are two major leagues: the National League (founded in 1876) and the American League (founded in 1901.) Several other defunct leagues are officially considered to be major, and their statistics and records are included with those of the two current Major Leagues. These include the Union Association (1884), the American Association (19th century) (1882–1891, not to be confused with later minor leagues of the same name), the Players League (1890) and the Federal League (1914–1915). In the late 1950s, a serious attempt was made to establish a third major league, the Continental League, but that league never began play.

The top players in the Negro Leagues of the first half of the 20th century were as good as or even better than their counterparts in the segregated Major Leagues (which was virtually all-white, with a very few Hispanic and Native American players.) Several Negro league players have been enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, the Negro Leagues are not officially considered major, primarily because the statistical record is incomplete.

Japanese professional baseball is comparable in quality to North American baseball, but the Pacific League and the Central League are not officially considered major leagues.

Rise

In the 1860s, aided by the Civil War, "New York"-style baseball expanded into a national game and baseball's first governing body, The National Association of Base Ball Players, was formed. The NABBP existed as an amateur league for twelve years. By 1867, more than 400 clubs were members, although most of the strongest clubs remained those based in the northeastern part of the country.

In 1870, a schism developed between professional and amateur ballplayers, after the 1869 founding of the first professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings. The NABBP split into two groups. The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players was formed in 1871.[7] It is considered by some to have been the first major league. Its amateur counterpart disappeared after only a few years.

In 1876, the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs—which still exists—was established, after the National Association proved ineffective. The emphasis was now on "clubs" rather than "players". Clubs now had the ability to enforce player contracts, preventing players from jumping to higher-paying clubs. For their part, clubs were required to play the full schedule of games, instead of forfeiting scheduled games when the club was no longer in the running for the league championship, which happened frequently under the National Association. A concerted effort was made to reduce the amount of gambling on games which was leaving the validity of results in doubt.

The early years of the National League were tumultuous, with threats from rival leagues and a rebellion by players against the hated "reserve clause", which restricted the free movement of players between clubs. Competitive leagues formed regularly, and also disbanded regularly. The most successful was the American Association (1881–1891), sometimes called the "beer and whiskey league" for its tolerance of the sale of alcoholic beverages to spectators. For several years, the National League and American Association champions met in a postseason championship series—the first attempt at a World Series.

The Union Association survived for only one season (1884), as did the Players League (1890).[8][9] Both leagues are considered major leagues by many baseball researchers because of the perceived high caliber of play (for a brief time anyway) and the number of star players featured. However, some researchers have disputed the major-league status of the Union Association, pointing out that franchises came and went and contending that the St. Louis club, which was deliberately "stacked" by the league's president (who owned that club), was the only club that was anywhere close to major-league caliber.[10]

National League Baltimore Orioles, 1896

In fact, there were dozens of leagues, large and small, at this time. What made the National League "major" was its dominant position in the major cities, particularly New York City. The large cities offered baseball teams national media distribution systems and fan bases that could generate revenues, enabling teams to hire the best players in the country.

The resulting bidding war for players led to widespread contract-breaking and legal disputes. One of the most famous involved star second baseman Napoleon Lajoie, who in 1901 went across town in Philadelphia from the National League Phillies to the American League Athletics. Barred by a court injunction from playing baseball in the state of Pennsylvania the next year, Lajoie was traded to the Cleveland team, where he played and managed for many years.[11]

The war between the American and National leagues caused shock waves throughout the baseball world. At a meeting at the Leland Hotel in Chicago in 1901, the other baseball leagues negotiated a plan to maintain their independence. On September 5, 1901, Patrick T. Powers, president of the Eastern League, announced the formation of the second National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the NAPBL or "NA" for short.[12]

Ban Johnson had other designs for the NA. While the NA continues to this day (known as "Minor League Baseball"), he saw it as a tool to end threats from smaller rivals who might some day want to expand in other territories and threaten his league's dominance.

After 1902, the three leagues—the NL, the AL, and the NAPBL—signed a new National Agreement. The new agreement tied independent contracts to the reserve-clause national league contracts. Baseball players became a commodity. The agreement also set up an official classification system for independent minor leagues that regulated the dollar value of contracts, the forerunner of the system refined by Branch Rickey that is still used today.[13]

It also gave the NA great power. Many independents walked away from the 1901 meeting. The deal with the NA punished those other indies who had not joined the NA and submitted to the will of the 'majors.' The NA also agreed to the deal to prevent more pilfering of players with little or no compensation for the players' development. Several leagues, seeing the writing on the wall, eventually joined the NA, which grew in size over the next several years.

Dead-ball era

Cy Young, 1911 baseball card

At this time the games tended to be low scoring, dominated by such pitchers as Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Mordecai Brown, and Grover Cleveland Alexander, to the extent that the period 1900–1919 is commonly called the "dead-ball era". The term also accurately describes the condition of the actual "baseball" itself. A baseball cost three dollars, a hefty sum at the time, equal to $37.74 today (in inflation-adjusted US dollars). Club owners were therefore reluctant to spend much money on new balls, if not necessary. It was not unusual for a single baseball to last an entire game, by the end of which, the ball would be dark with grass, mud, and tobacco stains, and misshapen from contact with the bat. Balls were replaced only if they were hit into the crowd and lost, and many clubs employed security guards expressly for the purpose of retrieving balls hit into the stands.

As a consequence, home runs were rare, and "small ball"—singles, bunts, stolen bases, the hit-and-run play, and other tactics—dominated the strategies of the time.[14] Hitting methods like the Baltimore Chop were put into use to increase the number of infield singles.[15]

The foul strike rule was a major rule change that, in just a few years, sent baseball from a high-scoring game to one where scoring any runs became a struggle. Prior to this rule, foul balls were not counted as strikes: a batter could foul off any number of pitches with no strikes counted against him; this gave an enormous advantage to the batter. In 1901, the National League adopted the foul strike rule, and the American League followed suit in 1903.

The World War II era

On January 14, 1942, Major League Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt regarding the continuation of baseball during the war, called the Green Light Letter. In this letter, the commissioner pleaded for the continuation of baseball in hopes for a start of a new Major League season. President Roosevelt responds "I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going. There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before. And that means that they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before."[16]

With the approval of President Roosevelt, Major League Baseball began its spring training in 1942 with little repercussions. Although some men were being pulled away from the baseball fields and sent to the battlefield, baseball continued to field teams.

Major leagues move west

Dodger Stadium in 2007

Walter O'Malley is considered by baseball experts to be "perhaps the most influential owner of baseball's early expansion era."[17] Following the 1957 Major League Baseball season, he moved the Dodgers to Los Angeles (and left New York's Brooklyn Dodgers fans with a sense of betrayal).[18] O'Malley was also influential in persuading the rival New York Giants to move west, to become the San Francisco Giants. He needed another team to go with him, for had he moved out west alone, the St. Louis Cardinals—1,600 mi (2,575 km) away—[19][20] would have been the closest National League team. The joint move would make West Coast road trips more economical for visiting teams.[21] O'Malley invited San Francisco Mayor George Christopher to New York to meet with Giants owner Horace Stoneham.[21] Stoneham was considering moving the Giants to Minnesota,[22] but he was convinced to join O'Malley on the West Coast at the end of the 1957 campaign. Since the meetings occurred during the 1957 season and against the wishes of Commissioner of Baseball Ford Frick, there was media gamesmanship.[23] When O'Malley moved the Dodgers from Brooklyn, the story transcended the world of sport and he found himself on the cover of Time magazine.[24] The cover art for the issue was created by sports cartoonist Willard Mullin,[25] long noted for his caricature of the "Brooklyn Bum" that personified the team. The dual moves broke the hearts of New York's National League fans but ultimately were successful for both franchises—and for Major League Baseball as a whole.[18] In fact, the move was an immediate success as well, because the Dodgers set a major-league, single-game attendance record in their first home appearance with 78,672 fans.[21] In the years following the move of the New York clubs, Major League Baseball continued its westward expansion — to include three other California-based teams, as well as two in Texas and one each in Minnesota, Seattle, Colorado, and Arizona. One of those three other California teams was the Athletics, which moved from Philadelphia to Kansas City, Missouri, and eventually, under the ownership of Charlie Finley, to Oakland, California.

Pitching dominance and rules changes

Graph showing the yearly number of runs per MLB game

By the late 1960s, the balance between pitching and hitting had swung in favor of the pitchers. In 1968—later nicknamed "the year of the pitcher"[26]Boston Red Sox player Carl Yastrzemski won the American League batting title with an average of just .301, the lowest in history.[27] Detroit Tigers pitcher Denny McLain won 31 games, making him the first pitcher to win 30 games in a season since Dizzy Dean.[28] St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Bob Gibson achieved an equally remarkable feat by allowing an ERA of just 1.12.[29]

Following these pitching performances, in December 1968 the rules committee voted to reduce the strike zone from knees to shoulders to top of knees to armpits and lower the pitcher's mound from 15 to 10 inches, beginning in the 1969 season.[30]

In 1973 the American League, which had been suffering from much lower attendance than the National League, made a move to increase scoring even further by initiating the designated hitter (DH) rule.[31]

Power age

Routinely in the late 1990s and early 2000s, baseball players hit 40 or 50 home runs in a season, a feat that was considered rare even in the 1980s. It has become apparent since that at least some of this power surge was a result of players using steroids and other performance enhancing drugs such as human growth hormone. Many modern baseball theorists believe that the need of pitchers to combat the rise in power could lead to a pitching revolution at some point in the future. New pitches, such as the mysterious[32] gyroball, could swing the balance of power back to the defensive side. A pitching revolution would not be unprecedented; several pitches have changed the game of baseball in the past, including the slider in the '50s and '60s and the split-fingered fastball in the '70s to '90s. Since the 1990s, the changeup has made a resurgence, being thrown masterfully by pitchers such as Jamie Moyer, Trevor Hoffman, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Johan Santana, Cole Hamels, and Pedro Martinez.[33][34][35][36]

MLB uniforms

A baseball team and its uniforms in the 1870s.
Baseball-cap logos of the 30 MLB franchises. MLB uniform-cap logos are unique amongst the big four North American sports in that in most cases they tend to represent the team's location rather than the team name or mascot.

A baseball uniform is a type of uniform worn by baseball players, and by some non-playing personnel, such as field managers and coaches. It is worn to indicate the person's role in the game and — through the use of logos, colors, and numbers — to identify the teams and their players, managers, and coaches.[37]

The New York Knickerbockers were the first baseball team to use uniforms, taking the field on April 4, 1849, in pants made of blue wool, white flannel shirts (jerseys) and straw hats.[38][38][39][40][41] The practice of wearing a uniform soon spread, and by 1900, all major league teams had adopted them. By 1882, most uniforms included stockings, which covered the leg from foot to knee, and had different colors that reflected the different baseball positions.[42] In the late 1880s, the Detroit Wolverines and Washington Nationals of the National League and the Brooklyn Bridegrooms of the American Association were the first to wear striped uniforms.[38][43]

Caps, or other types of headgear with eyeshades, have been a part of baseball uniforms from the beginning.[44][45] Baseball teams often wore full-brimmed straw hats or no cap at all since there was no official rule regarding headgear.[46] Completing the baseball uniform are cleats and stockings, both of which have also been around for a long time.

By the end of the 19th century, teams began the practice of having two different uniforms, one for when they played at home in their own baseball stadium and a different one for when they played on the road. It became common to wear white pants with a white color vest at home and gray pants with a gray or solid color vest on the road. Most teams also have one or more alternate uniforms, usually consisting of the primary or secondary team color on the vest instead of the normal white or gray. Teams on occasion will also wear throwback uniforms.

Five teams do not display the name of their city, state, or region on their road jerseys: the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, and Tampa Bay Rays. The Florida Marlins will join this group in the 2010 season. The Phillies are the only team that also displays the player's number on one sleeve, in addition to the usual placement on the back of the uniform.

The Texas Rangers do not display their nickname on any of their uniforms, opting for "Texas" on their home, road and alternate jerseys.

Season structure

Spring training

A Grapefruit League game at the LA Dodgers camp in Vero Beach, Florida

Spring training is a series of practices and exhibition games preceding the start of the regular season. Spring training allows new players to audition for roster and position spots, and gives existing team players practice time prior to competitive play. Spring training has always attracted fan attention, drawing crowds who travel to the warmer climates to enjoy the weather and watch their favorite teams play, and spring training usually coincides with spring break for many college students.

Spring training typically lasts almost two months, starting in mid February and running until just before the season opening day (and often right at the end of spring training, some teams will play spring training games on the same day other teams have opening day of the season), traditionally the first week of April. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training first because pitchers benefit from a longer training period due to the exhaustive nature of the position. A week or two later, the position players arrive and team practice begins.

All-Star Game

President John F. Kennedy throwing out the first pitch at the 1962 All-Star Game.

In early July — the midway point of the season — a three-day break is taken and the Major League Baseball All-Star Game is held. The All-Star game features a team of players from the National League (NL) — led by the manager of the previous NL World Series team — and a team of players from the American League (AL), similarly managed, in an exhibition game. Since 1989, the designated-hitter rule is used when the game is played in an AL ballpark; formerly no designated hitters played in the All-Star game. The 2002 contest ended in an 11-inning tie because both teams were out of pitchers, a result which proved highly unpopular with the fans. As a result, for a two-year trial in 2003 and 2004, the league which won the game received the benefit of home-field advantage in the World Series (hosting the first two games at one's own ballpark and playing no more than three games on the road, out of a possible seven). That practice has since been extended indefinitely. The practice has upset purists, because previously the two leagues alternated home-field advantage for the World Series, whereas now the NL has not had home-field advantage in the World Series since 2001. The Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox (both AL) took some advantage of the rule in 2004 and 2005, respectively (against the St. Louis Cardinals and the Houston Astros), as each team started the Series with two home victories, giving them good momentum for a four-game sweep. In 2007, the Red Sox again swept all four Series games (this time against the Colorado Rockies). However, the American League's winning of home-field advantage was not enough to save the New York Yankees in 2003 (when they lost to the Florida Marlins, NL, in six games), the Detroit Tigers in 2006 (when they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals, NL, in five games) or the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008 (when they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies, NL, in five).[47][48]

The first All-Star Game was held as part of the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago, Illinois, and was the brainchild of Arch Ward, then sports editor for The Chicago Tribune.[49] Initially intended to be a one-time event, its great success resulted in making the game an annual one. Ward's contribution was recognized by Major League Baseball in 1962 with the creation of the "Arch Ward Trophy", given to the All-Star Game's most valuable player each year.[50] (In 2002, this was renamed the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award.)

Since 1970, the eight position players for each team who take the field initially have been voted into the game by fans.[51] The fan voting had been cancelled since 1957 as a result of the Cincinnati ballot-box-stuffing scandal (a local newspaper had printed pre-voted ballots for fans to send in, resulting in seven of the eight positions going to Cincinnati players). The league overruled the vote, adding St. Louis' Stan Musial and Milwaukee's Henry Aaron to the team, and fan voting was eliminated until the 1970 season. In more recent years, Internet voting has been allowed.

From the first All-Star Game, players have worn their respective team uniforms rather than wearing uniforms made specifically for the game, with one exception: In the first game, the National League players wore uniforms made for the game, with the lettering "National League" across the front of the shirt.[52][53]

Post-season

World Series Records
Rank Team Titles Last
title
Series
1st New York Yankees (AL) 27 2009 40
2nd St. Louis Cardinals (NL) 10 2006 17
3rd Oakland Athletics † (AL) 9 1989 14
4th Boston Red Sox † (AL) 7 2007 11
5th Los Angeles Dodgers † (NL) 6 1988 18
6th San Francisco Giants † (NL) 5 1954 17
7th Cincinnati Reds (NL) 5 1990 9
8th Pittsburgh Pirates (NL) 5 1979 7
9th Detroit Tigers (AL) 4 1984 10
10th Atlanta Braves † (NL) 3 1995 9
11th Baltimore Orioles † (AL) 3 1983 7
12th Minnesota Twins † (AL) 3 1991 6
13th Chicago White Sox (AL) 3 2005 5
14th Chicago Cubs (NL) 2 1908 10
15th Philadelphia Phillies (NL) 2 2008 7
16th Cleveland Indians (AL) 2 1948 5
17th New York Mets (NL) * 2 1986 4
18th Toronto Blue Jays (AL) * 2 1993 2
Florida Marlins (NL) * 2 2003 2
20th Kansas City Royals (AL) * 1 1985 2
21st Arizona Diamondbacks (NL) * 1 2001 1
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim † (AL) * 1 2002 1
23rd San Diego Padres (NL) * 0   2
24th Milwaukee Brewers(AL to NL, 1998) * 0   1 [AL]
Houston Astros † (NL) * 0   1
Colorado Rockies (NL) * 0   1
Tampa Bay Rays † (AL) * 0   1
28th Texas Rangers † (AL) * 0 0
Seattle Mariners (AL) * 0 0
Washington Nationals † (NL) * 0 0
AL = American League (61 victories)
NL = National League (43 victories)
* joined the American or National League after 1960
(9 victories in 18 World Series out of 47 since 1960)
† Totals include a team's record in a previous city
or under another name (see franchise list below).
‡ Have not yet played in a World Series.
Source: MLB.com

When the regular season ends after the first Sunday in October (or the last Sunday in September), eight teams enter the post-season playoffs. Six teams are division champions; the remaining two "wild-card" spots are filled by the team in each league that has the best record but is not a division champion (best second-place team). Three rounds of series of games are played to determine the champion:

  1. American League Division Series and National League Division Series, each a best-of-five-games series.
  2. American League Championship Series and National League Championship Series, each a best-of-seven-games series played between the surviving teams from the ALDS and NLDS.
  3. World Series, a best-of-seven-games series played between the champions of each league.

Within each league, the division winners are the #1, #2 and #3 seeds, based on win/loss records. The wild-card team is the #4 seed — regardless of its record — and is paired against the highest seed outside of its own division in the first round of the playoffs, while the remaining two division champions play each other. In the first two rounds, the better-seeded team has home-field advantage, regardless of record.[54]

Crowd outside Huntington Avenue Grounds before a game during the 1903 World Series

The team belonging to the league that won the mid-season All-Star Game receives home-field advantage in the World Series.

Because each postseason series is split between the two teams' home fields, "home-field advantage" theoretically does not play a significant role unless the series goes to its maximum number of games, in which case the final game takes place on the field of the team holding the advantage. In reality, however, "home-field advantage" can play a role, if the team with home-field advantage wins the first two games (at home),[55] thereby gaining some "momentum" for the rest of the Series.[56]


International play

Since 1986, a team of Major League Baseball All-Stars has made a biennial end-of-the-season tour of Japan, playing exhibition games against the Nippon Professional Baseball All-Stars in the MLB Japan All-Star Series. Starting in 1992 and continuing intermittently, several Major League Baseball teams have played exhibition games against Japanese teams.[57]

In 2008, Major League Baseball played the MLB China Series in the People's Republic of China. It was a series of two spring-training games played by the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers. The games were an effort to popularize baseball in China.[58]

MLB steroid policy

Rafael Palmeiro (batter), one of the Major League Baseball players suspended for steroid abuse.[59]

The original steroid policy provided for a 10 game suspension for a first positive test, a 30 game suspension for a second positive test, a 60 game suspension for a third positive test, a one year suspension for a fourth positive test, and a penalty at the commissioner’s discretion for a fifth positive test. Players were tested at least once per year, with the chance that several players could be tested many times per year.[60]

A former Senate Majority Leader, federal prosecutor, and ex-chairman of The Walt Disney Company, George Mitchell was appointed by Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig on March 30, 2006[61] to investigate the use of performance-enhancing drugs in MLB.[62] Mitchell was appointed during a time of controversy over the 2006 book Game of Shadows by San Francisco Chronicle investigative reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada, which chronicles alleged extensive use of performance enhancers, including several different types of steroids and growth hormone by baseball superstars Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi. The appointment was made after several influential members of the U.S. Congress made negative comments about both the effectiveness and honesty of MLB's drug policies and Commissioner Selig.[62]

According to the report, after mandatory random testing began in 2004, HGH Treatment for Athletic Enhancement became popular among players, as HGH is not detectable in tests, though the Mitchell report was careful to point out that HGH is likely a placebo with no performance enhancing effects.[63] Also, it was noted that at least one player from each of the thirty Major League Baseball teams was involved in the alleged violations.[64]

On December 12, 2007, the day before the report was to be released, Bud Selig said, regarding his decision to commission the report, "I haven't seen the report yet, but I'm proud I did it."[65][66]

According to ESPN, some people questioned whether Mitchell being a director of the Boston Red Sox created a conflict of interest, especially because no "prime [Sox] players were in the report." Mitchell described his role with the team as that of a "consultant".[67] Despite the lack of "prime" Boston players, the report had named several prominent Yankees who were parts of World Series clubs. This made some people feel that there was a conflict of interest on Mitchell's part, due to the fierce rivalry between the two teams. Cleveland Indians pitcher Paul Byrd, along with his teammates, felt the timing of publicizing Byrd's alleged use was suspicious, as the information was leaked prior to the deciding Game 7 of the 2007 American League Championship Series between the Indians and the Red Sox.[68] Former U.S. prosecutor John M. Dowd also brought up allegations of Mitchell's conflict of interest. Dowd, who had defended Senator John McCain of Arizona during the Keating Five investigation in the late 1980s, cited how he took exception to Mitchell's scolding of McCain and others for having a conflict of interest with their actions in the case and how the baseball investigation would be a "burden" for him when Mitchell was named to lead it.[69] After the investigation, Dowd later told the Baltimore Sun that he was convinced the former Senator has done a good job.[70] The Los Angeles Times reported that Mitchell acknowledged that his "tight relationship with Major League Baseball left him open to criticism".[71] Mitchell responded to the concerns by stating that readers who examined the report closely "will not find any evidence of bias, of special treatment of the Red Sox".[71]

The current MLB drug policy provides for a 50 game suspension for a first positive test, a 100 game suspension for a second positive test, and a lifetime suspension for a third positive test[72].

Since the opening of the 2009 season, Major League Baseball and its fans have been rocked by the steroid allegations against Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz and the positive test result and 50 game suspension of Manny Ramirez, three of baseball's biggest stars.

Major League Baseball in media

Blackout policy

MLB Blackout map in the United States

Major League Baseball has several blackout rules. A local broadcaster has priority to televise games of the team in their market over national broadcasters. For example, at one time TBS showed many Atlanta Braves games nationally and internationally in Canada. Fox Sports Net (FSN) also shows many games in other areas. If the Braves played a team that FSN or another local broadcaster showed, the local station will have the broadcast rights for its own local market, while TBS would have been blacked out in the same market for the duration of the game. A market that has a local team playing in a weekday ESPN or ESPN2 game and is shown on a local station will see ESPNews, or, in the past, another game scheduled on ESPN or ESPN2 at the same time (if ESPN or ESPN2 operates a regional coverage broadcasting and operates a game choice), or will be subject to an alternative programming feed. MLB's streaming Internet video service is also subject to the same blackout rules.

Canadian MLB Blackout map

MLB on television

Major League Baseball is in the transition to a new set of television contracts. The league has three current broadcast partners: Fox, ESPN and TBS.

It was announced on July 11, 2006 that Fox Sports will remain with MLB through 2013 and broadcast Fox Saturday Baseball throughout the entire season, rather than the previous May to September format.[73] Fox will also hold rights to the All-Star Game each season. Fox will also alternate League Championship Series broadcasts, broadcasting the American League Championship Series in odd-numbered years and the National League Championship Series in even-numbered years as part of the new contract. Fox will continue to broadcast all games of the World Series, which will begin on a Wednesday evening rather than the current Saturday evening format.

ESPN will continue to broadcast Major League Baseball through 2013 as well, beginning with national Opening Day coverage.[66] ESPN will continue to broadcast Sunday Night Baseball, Monday Night Baseball, Wednesday Night Baseball, and Baseball Tonight. ESPN also has rights to the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game each July.

TBS will air Sunday afternoon regular season games (non-exclusive) nationally from 2008 to 2013. In 2007, TBS began its exclusive rights to any tiebreaker games that determine division or wild card champions at the end of each regular season in the event of a tie with one playoff spot remaining, as well as exclusive coverage of the Division Series round of the playoffs.[74] TBS carries the League Championship Series that are not included under Fox's television agreement; TBS shows the National League Championship Series in odd-numbered years and the American League Championship Series in even-numbered years as part of the new contract through 2013.[75]

In January 2009, MLB launched MLB Network, which aired 26 live games that year.[76]

MLB on radio

ESPN Radio holds national broadcast rights and broadcasts Sunday Night Baseball weekly throughout the season in addition to all playoff games. The rights to the World Series are exclusive to ESPN.

In addition, each team employs its own announcers, who broadcast during the regular season. Most teams operate regional networks to cover their fan base; some of these supposedly regional networks (such as the New York Yankees Radio Network) in reality have a national reach with affiliates located across the United States.

Major League Baseball has an exclusive rights deal with XM Satellite Radio, which includes the channel MLB Home Plate and live play-by-play of all games.

International broadcasting

  • NESN televises a large number of games in Europe.
  • ESPN Deportes televises a large number of Major League Baseball games in Spanish and Portuguese, which air throughout Latin America.[77]
  • Five previously screened MLB on Sunday and Wednesday in the United Kingdom, (including the All-Star Game and the Post Season Games, but not including Spring Training) usually starting at 1 a.m. BST. It was most recently presented by Johnny Gould and Josh Chetwynd as "MLB on Five".[78]. Their coverage began on the channel's opening night in 1997, but for financial reasons, the decision was made not to pick up MLB for the 2009 season. As of June 2009, no decision has been made by Five about the 2010 season.[79] As of July 2009, no free-to-view channel in the UK shows MLB.
  • ESPN America and ESPN UK show live and recorded games several times a week — it is available with Sky Digital and (on a subscriber-basis) Virgin Media in the UK.
  • Rogers Sportsnet, and TSN televise Toronto Blue Jays games in Canada.
  • Rogers Sportsnet also carries ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, numerous other regular season Major League Baseball games, the All-Star Game, most playoff games, and the World Series.
  • MLB Network.
  • One HD, part of the Ten Network in Australia is set to televise five live games per week as well as prime time coverage of the World Series and playoffs.[80]

Current Major League franchises

Notes
a. [AL-Central] started in 1994 by joining White Sox, Royals & Twins from AL-West with Indians & Brewers from AL-East; joined in 1998 by Tigers from AL-East; lost Brewers (formerly AL-West 1969-71, AL-East 1972-93) to NL-Central in 1998
b. [NL-Central] started in 1994 by joining Cubs, Pirates & Cardinals from NL-East with Reds & Astros from NL-West; joined in 1998 by Brewers from AL-Central (AL-West 1969-71; AL-East 1972-93)
  1. [Orioles] Milwaukee Brewers (Western League 1894–1899) 1900–1901; St. Louis Browns 1902–1953
  2. [Red Sox] Boston Americans, 1901–1907
  3. [Yankees] Baltimore Orioles 1901–1902; New York Highlanders 1902–1912
  4. [Rays] Tampa Bay Devil Rays 1998–2007
  5. [White Sox] Sioux City Cornhuskers (Western League) 1894; St. Paul Saints (WL) 1895–1899; [played in AL-West 1969–1993]
  6. [Indians] Grand Rapids Rustlers (Western League) 1894–1899; Cleveland Blues 1900–1902; Cleveland Naps 1903–1914; [played in AL-East 1969–1993]
  7. [Twins] Kansas City Blues (Western League) 1894–1900; Washington Senators 1901–1960; [played in AL-West 1969–1993]
  8. [Angels] Los Angeles Angels 1961–1965; California Angels 1965–1996; Anaheim Angels 1997–2004
  9. [Athletics] located in Philadelphia 1901–1954, located in Kansas City 1955–1967
  10. [Rangers] Washington Senators 1961–1971 [played in AL-East 1969-71]
  11. [Braves] located in Milwaukee 1953–1965, located in Boston 1871–1952 (where they were called the Braves 1912–35 & 1941–52 and the Bees 1936–40; before 1912 known successively as the Red Stockings, Red Caps, Beaneaters, Doves, and Rustlers); [played in NL-West 1969–1993]
  12. [Marlins] name will change to "Miami Marlins" upon moving into their new stadium in 2012
  13. [Nationals] Montreal Expos 1969–2004. Major League Baseball owned the Expos from 2002 to 2004.
  14. [Astros] Houston Colt .45's 1962–1965; [played in NL-West 1969–1993]
  15. [Brewers] Seattle Pilots (AL-West) 1969; [played in AL-West until 1971, AL-East 1972–1993 & AL Central 1994–1997]
  16. [Dodgers] located in Brooklyn, NY, 1883–1957 (where before 1931 they were called successively the Atlantics, Grays, Bridegrooms, Grooms, Superbas, Trolley Dodgers, Dodgers, and Robins)
  17. [Giants] located in New York 1883–1957
  18. [Sun Life Stadium] To be replaced in 2012 by a new stadium currently named "New Marlins Stadium"
†. [Busch Stadium] Hosted 2009 All-Star Game
‡. [Angel Stadium] Hosting 2010 All-Star Game
*. [Chase Field] Hosting 2011 All-Star Game

Future International Expansion

With the growing popularity of baseball in Mexico and the Caribbean, there has been much discussion about the possibility of a more international expansion with Monterrey, Mexico; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Caracas, Venezuela being considered for further MLB expansion.

Players from the United States, by home state or territory

See: Category:American Major League Baseball players by home state
See also: List of Major League Baseball players from Puerto Rico, List of Major League Baseball players from the United States Virgin Islands, and Category:Major League Baseball players from American Samoa

Players from outside the United States

See: Category:Major League Baseball players by national origin

See also

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  111. ^ "AT&T Park". ballparks.com. http://www.ballparks.com/baseball/national/pacbel.htm. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 

Further reading

  • Bouton, Jim. Ball Four: My Life and Hard Times Throwing the Knuckleball in the Major Leagues. World Publishing Company, 1970. ISBN 0-02-030665-2. (One player's diary of the 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots).
  • James, Bill. The Historical Baseball Abstract. New York: Villard, 1985 (with many subsequent editions).
  • Murphy, Cait (2007). Crazy '08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History. New York, NY: Smithsonian Books. ISBN 978-0-06-088937-1.
  • Ritter, Lawrence. The Glory of their Times. New York: MacMillan, 1966. Revised edition, New York: William Morrow, 1984. (First-person accounts of life in baseball during the early 20th century.)
  • Ross, Brian. "Band of Brothers". Minor League News, April 6, 2005. Available at Minor League News. (A history of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, a group formed in 1902 in opposition to the National and American Leagues.)
  • Seymour, Harold. Baseball: The Early Years. 2v. New York: Oxford University Press, 1960. ISBN 0-19-500100-1.
  • Tygiel, Jules. Past Time: Baseball as History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-19-514604-2.
  • Marc Okkonen, Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century: The Official Major League Baseball Guide, 1991.
  • Ernest Lanigan, Baseball Cyclopedia, 1922, originally published by Baseball Magazine.
  • Hy Turkin and S.C. Thompson, The Official Encyclopedia of Baseball, 1951, A.S. Barnes and Company.
  • Lamont Buchanan, The World Series and Highlights of Baseball, 1951, E. P. Dutton & Company.
  • Jordan A. Deutsch, Richard M. Cohen, David Neft, Roland T. Johnson, The Scrapbook History of Baseball, 1975, Bobbs-Merrill Company.
  • Richard M. Cohen, David Neft, Roland T. Johnson, Jordan A. Deutsch, The World Series, 1976, Dial Press. Contains play-by-play accounts of all World Series from 1903 onward.
  • The New York Times, The Complete Book of Baseball: A Scrapbook History, 1980, Bobbs Merrill.
  • Jerry Lansch, Glory Fades Away: The Nineteenth Century World Series Rediscovered, 1991, Taylor Publishing. ISBN 0-87833-726-1.
  • Major League Baseball Attendance.

External links


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

Initialism

MLB

  1. (US)(Canadian)(baseball) Major League Baseball

Anagrams

  • Anagrams of blm
  • LMB

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