Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This one's for you, Tammy, ...

... and for any other 'wannabe' baseball fan out there who has been just casually interested in the past, is new to "fandom" and unaware of how the major leagues are set up and how it all kind of ties in and fits together.

Without going back to Wiki to look up every exact date and make sure that all of my t's are crossed and i's dotted, here's how it works (as I understand it) -- basically.

Leagues ...

There are two leagues in professional baseball ... the American League and the National League. For many many years the teams in one league never played against teams in the other league except for pre-season action (getting everyone all tuned up, on the same page and [hopefully] ready for the regular season to begin - usually around the 1st of April or so each year) and the World Series (October), where the champion from the American League plays against the champion from the National League for the title.

There is really only one basic difference, as I see it, between the two leagues. The American League has what they call a DH (designated hitter), who always bats for the pitcher. (The National League does not have a DH!) In other words, their pitchers do not take batting practice. Why would they? The DH does not occupy a position in the field - not 1st base, not center field, not any! He just sits there on the bench until it's the pitcher's turn to bat, then goes up to the batter's box and tries to get a hit. In the past (and probably true in the present), this was a really good way for previously 'regular' major league baseball players to still be productively active (and paid) well beyond their prime physically but more than able to swing their bat and try to do some real damage against their opponents. The name Cecil Fielder comes immediately to my mind as a good example of a DH.

Divisions ...

Within each league are three divisions ... the East, Central and West. You will notice, if you follow this link, that the American League has a total of only 14 teams, whereas the National League has 16 ... ... 30 teams in all between the two leagues. I can think of no reason whatsoever why one league has 14 and the other 16 (other than political scrambling for territory). Politics at some of its very worst, no doubt! I mean, why couldn't it have been 15-15? That's a semi-serious question, OK? Why couldn't it have been? What's going to happen the next time two teams want to enter the league? Will they automatically be one in one league and one in the other? Then we would have 15 in one and 17 in the other. This is small, people, small!

Initially, the divisions were meant to be geographical ... "East" "Central" "West" ... one would have expected that, among each team in the division, there would not be more than a few hundred miles - due to travel constraints - travel time between games. In this day and age, tho, what with personal jet transport and whatnot all else available, no such constrictions exist.

Although the majority of each team's games are played against other teams within their own division (East/Central/West), there are a great number of other games that are against rivals from other divisions within their own league.

What does "playing against teams outside their division right now" mean? I thought teams always played within their divisions. ??? This was one of your recent questions, Tammy. I hope I have answered it to your satisfaction and understanding.

Interleague play ...

Just a few years back, MLB (Major League Baseball) instituted interleague play during the regular season. Now, that was an interesting development - particularly to me, as I'd always wanted to see the Rangers (AL) and Astros (NL) in action during the regular season. In fact, I wrote (somewhat extensively) about that rivalry here, and this past week was just the first salvo of interleague games this year. Many more interleague games are scheduled in June, and I wrote about some of those here.

Now, who is the DH in an interleague game? Or is there one, even? Well, it depends (sometimes) on where the game is being played. MLB's rules are ever-evolving, it would seem. Let's talk briefly about the Astros/Rangers series. They just completed a three-game set here, in which the Rangers took two out of the three. Next month we will be in Arlington, where the DH rule will apply because the games will be held on their (AL) home field.

Another of your questions, Tammy, was, Curious on one other thing that I am betting you know the answer to. Cardinals and Yankees are both 26-19. However, The Cardinals are ranked 3 and the Yankees are ranked 7. Why is that?????? I would have thought 3 and 4.

The only thing I can tell you 'for sure', Tammy, is that these "Power Rankings" (at least, I think that's what you were looking at!) are 'arbitrary' ... in other words, they are one (perhaps more than one?) person's opinion as to how the individual teams should be ranked.

I've spent a long time on this post ... and, while I don't begrudge even a milli-second of that time, I was in the midst of composing a MOST belated "Mother's Day" greeting to everyone when a couple of Tammy's responding comments by way of questions came in and I felt that I had to respond to them, but now am really anxious to get back to (what will be even a more-belated) Mother's Day post.

Tammy, I sincerely hope that I have answered some of your really good questions about major league baseball, and may I be among the first to wish you a most titillating baseball season!


Craig Peihopa said...

gee you are so thoughtful nd caring to explain this.

Tammy said...

Knitting guru, baseball mentor, woman of many talents. ;)

This explained everything PERFECTLY. Thank you so much!

Goldenrod said...

Tammy, one of your (possibly) enduring confusions will be that you support teams from two different leagues.

Just woke up from an extended nap, and I am still trying to recover from your effusive praise. Love you, too, babe, even tho I don't personally care for either of your teams! :):):)

Tammy said...

I like to spread my love around. lol ;)