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"MLB" redirects here. For Minor League Baseball, see Minor League Baseball. For other uses, see MLB (disambiguation).

Major League Baseball
Sport Baseball
Founded 1869
Commissioner Bud Selig[1]
No. of teams 30[2]
Countries United States (29 teams)
Canada (1 team)
Continent North America
Most recent champion(s) Boston Red Sox (8th title)
Most titles New York Yankees (27 titles)[3]
TV partner(s) Fox/Fox Sports 1
MLB Network
Official website

Major League Baseball (MLB) is a North American professional baseball league consisting of teams that play in the American League and National League. The two leagues, dating to 1901 and 1876 respectively as separate legal entities, merged in 2000 into a single organization led by the Commissioner of Baseball.[4]

MLB constitutes one of the four major professional sports leagues of North America. It is composed of thirty teams: twenty-nine in the United States and one in Canada. Teams in MLB play 162 games each season over six months (April through September). Five teams in each league advance to a four-round postseason tournament that culminates in the World Series, a best-of-seven-games championship series between the two league champions that dates to 1903.

The organization oversees many minor-league baseball leagues, which operate about 240 teams affiliated with the major-league clubs. With the International Baseball Federation, the league also manages the international World Baseball Classic tournament. MLB has the highest season attendance of any sports league in the world with nearly 75 million spectators in 2012.

Organizational structure

MLB is governed by the Major League Baseball Constitution that has undergone several incarnations since 1875 with the most recent revisions being made in 2012.[6] Under the direction of the Commissioner of Baseball (as of 2013, Bud Selig), MLB hires and maintains the sport's umpiring crews, and negotiates marketing, labor, and television contracts.

MLB maintains a unique, controlling relationship over the sport, including most aspects of minor league baseball. This is due in large part to the 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.[7][8] Although there were several challenges to MLB's primacy in the sport between the 1870s and the Federal League in 1916, the last such challenge was the aborted Continental League in 1960.[7]

The chief executive of MLB is the commissioner.[9] The chief operating officer is Rob Manfred.[9] There are six executive vice-presidents in charge of the following areas: baseball development, business, labor relations and human resources, finance, administration (whose vice-president is MLB's Chief Information Officer), and baseball operations.[10]

The multimedia branch of MLB is Manhattan–based MLB Advanced Media, which oversees and each of the 30 teams' websites. Its charter states that MLB Advanced Media holds editorial independence from the League, but it is 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. MLB also owns 67 percent of MLB Network, with the other 33 percent split between several cable operators and satellite provider DirecTV.[11] It operates out of studios in Secaucus, New Jersey, and also has editorial independence from the league.[12]

League organization

As of the 2013 season, MLB is divided into 15 teams in the American League (AL) and 15 teams in the National League (NL).[13] Each league is further subdivided into East, Central, and West divisions. For 60 years, the American and National leagues fielded eight teams apiece. In the 1960s, expansion added eight teams, including the first non-U.S. team (the Montreal Expos). Two teams were also added in the 1970s. From 1969 through 1993, each league consisted of an East and West division. A third division was added in each league in 1994. Through 1996, the two leagues met on the field only during the World Series and the All-Star Game: in 1997, regular-season interleague play was introduced.

In March 1995, two new franchises — the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays (now known simply as the Tampa Bay Rays) — were awarded by MLB, to begin play in 1998. This addition brought the total number of franchises to 30. In early 1997, Major League Baseball decided to assign one new team to each league: Tampa Bay joined the AL and Arizona joined the NL. The original plan was to have an odd number of teams in each league (15 per league, with 5 in each division). MLB also planned to introduce interleague play in 1997, but with each league having an odd number of teams, interleague play would have had to be used throughout the entire season, to allow every team to play every day. It was unclear, though, if interleague play would continue after the 1998 season, as it had to be approved by the players' union. For this and other reasons, it was decided that both leagues should continue to have an even number of teams; one existing club would have to switch leagues. The Milwaukee Brewers agreed in November 1997 to move from the AL to the NL, thereby making the NL a 16-team league.[14]

Following the 2011 season, MLB announced its plan to move the Houston Astros from the NL Central to the AL West for the 2013 season, resulting in both leagues having three divisions of five teams each and allowing all teams to have a more balanced schedule. (MLB required the Astros to accept this move as a condition of approving their sale to Jim Crane.) Because each league will have an odd number of teams, interleague play will occur throughout the season, so that every team will be able to play every day.[15]

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 the much more powerful Commissioner of Baseball, who had the power to make decisions for all of professional baseball unilaterally. In 2000, the AL and NL were dissolved as legal entities, and MLB became a single, overall league de jure,similar to the National Football League, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League — albeit with two components called "leagues" instead of "conferences".

The same rules and regulations are used in both leagues, with one exception: the AL operates under the Designated Hitter Rule, while the NL does not (preserving the NL's distinction as the only remaining league in professional baseball in the United States that does not follow the DH rule). This difference in rules between leagues is unique to MLB; the other sports leagues of the US and Canada have one set of rules for all teams.



In the 1860s, aided by the Civil War, "New York"-style baseball expanded into a national game and spawned baseball's first governing body, The National Association of Base Ball Players. The NABBP existed as an amateur league for twelve years. By 1867, more than 400 clubs were members. Most of the strongest clubs remained those based in the northeastern part of the country. For professional baseball's founding year, MLB uses the year 1869—when the first professional team,[16] the Cincinnati Red Stockings, was established.

A schism developed between professional and amateur ballplayers after the founding of the Cincinnati club. The NABBP split into an amateur organization and a professional organization. The National Association of Professional Baseball Players, often known as the National Association (NA), was formed in 1871.[17] Some consider it to have been the first major league.[by whom?] The modern Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves franchises trace their histories back to the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players in the early 1870s. Its amateur counterpart disappeared after only a few years.

In 1876, the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs (later known as the National League or NL) was established after the NA proved ineffective. The league placed its emphasis on clubs rather than on players. Clubs could now enforce player contracts, preventing players from jumping to higher-paying clubs. 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 NA. A concerted effort was made to curb gambling on games which was leaving the validity of results in doubt. The first game in the NL — on Saturday, April 22, 1876 (at the Jefferson Street Grounds, Philadelphia) — is often pointed to as the beginning of MLB.[18][19]

The early years of the NL 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 NL and American Association champions met in a postseason championship series — the first attempt at a World Series. 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 NL Phillies to the AL Athletics. Barred by a court injunction from playing baseball in the state of Pennsylvania the following year, Lajoie was traded to the Cleveland team, where he played and managed for many years.[20]

The war between the AL and NL 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 iteration of the NA.[21] While the NA continues to this day (known as Minor League Baseball), at the time Ban Johnson 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 NL, AL and NA signed a new National Agreement which tied independent contracts to the reserve-clause national league contracts. Baseball players became a commodity. The agreement also set up a formal classification system for independent minor leagues that regulated the dollar value of contracts, the forerunner of today's system that was refined by Branch Rickey.[22] The agreement gave the NA great power. The agreement with the NA punished those independent leagues who had not joined the NA and submitted to the will of the "majors". The deal also helped to prevent more pilfering of NA players with little or no compensation for the players' development. Several leagues eventually joined the NA, which grew in size over the next several years.

Defunct major leagues

Several other early defunct baseball leagues are officially considered major leagues, and their statistics and records are included with those of the two current major leagues. These include the Union Association (1884), the American Association (1882–1891, not to be confused with later minor leagues of the same name),[23] the Players' League (1890)[24] and the Federal League (1914–1915).[25][26] Both the UA and NA are considered major leagues by many baseball researchers because of the perceived high caliber of play and the number of star players featured. Researchers dispute the major-league status of the UA by pointing out that franchises came and went and that the St. Louis club was deliberately "stacked"; the St. Louis club was owned by the league's president and it was the only club that was close to major-league caliber.[27]

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

Dead-ball era

Main article: Dead-ball era

The period between 1900 and 1919 is commonly called the "dead-ball era". Games of this era tended to be low scoring and were often dominated by pitchers, such as Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Mordecai Brown, and Grover Cleveland Alexander. The term also accurately describes the condition of the baseball itself. A baseball cost three dollars, equal to $40.81 today (in inflation-adjusted U.S. dollars). Club owners were reluctant to purchase new balls. It was not unusual for a single baseball to last an entire game; by the end of the game, the ball would be dark with grass, mud, 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 solely to retrieve balls hit into the stands.

Also, pitchers could manipulate the ball through the use of the spitball. (In 1921 use of this pitch was restricted to a few pitchers with a grandfather clause). Additionally, many ballparks had large dimensions, such as the West Side Grounds of the Chicago Cubs, which was 560 feet to the center field fence, and the Huntington Avenue Grounds of the Boston Red Sox, which was 635 feet to the center field fence, thus home runs were rare, and "small ball" tactics such as singles, bunts, stolen bases and the hit-and-run play dominated the strategies of the time.[28] Hitting methods like the Baltimore Chop were used to increase the number of infield singles.[29]

The adoption of the foul strike rule in the early twentieth century quickly sent baseball from a high-scoring game to one where scoring runs became a struggle. Prior to the institution of 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 NL adopted the foul strike rule, and the AL followed suit in 1903.[30]

After the 1919 World Series between the Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds, baseball was rocked by allegations of a game fixing scheme known as the Black Sox Scandal. Eight players - Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, Claude Williams, Buck Weaver, Arnold "Chick" Gandil, Fred McMullin, Charles Risberg, and Oscar "Happy" Felsch - intentionally lost the World Series in exchange for a ring of $100,000.[31] Despite being acquitted, all were permanently banned from Major League Baseball.[32]

Rise in popularity

Baseball's popularity increased in the 1920s and 1930s. The 1920 season was notable for the death of Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians. Chapman, who was struck in the head by a pitch and died a few hours later, became the only MLB player to die of an on-field injury. The following year, the New York Yankees made their first World Series appearance.[33] By the end of the 1930s, the team had appeared in 11 World Series, winning eight of them.[34] Yankees slugger Babe Ruth had set the single season home run record in 1927, hitting 60 home runs; a few years earlier, Ruth had set the same record with 29 home runs.[35]

Affected by the difficulties of the Great Depression, baseball's popularity had begun a downward turn in the early 1930s. By 1932, only two MLB teams turned a profit. Attendance had fallen, due at least in part to a 10% federal amusement tax added to baseball ticket prices. Baseball owners cut their rosters from 25 men to 23 men, and even the best players took pay cuts. Team executives were innovative in their attempts to survive, creating night games, broadcasting games live by radio and rolling out promotions such as free admission for women. Throughout the period of the Great Depression, no MLB teams moved or folded.[36]

World War II era

On January 14, 1942, MLB Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis wrote a letter to U.S. 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."[37]

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

Breaking the color barrier

In the mid-1940s, Branch Rickey, president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, selected player Jackie Robinson from a list of promising Negro leagues players. After obtaining a commitment from Robinson to "turn the other cheek" to any racial antagonism directed at him, Rickey agreed to sign him to a contract for $600 a month. In what was later referred to as "The Noble Experiment", Robinson was the first black baseball player in the International League since the 1880s, joining the Dodgers' farm club, the Montreal Royals, for the 1946 season.[38]

Jackie Robinson's number 42 was retired by the Major League Baseball in 1997.

The following year, the Dodgers called Robinson up to the major leagues. On April 15, 1947, Robinson made his major league debut at Ebbets Field before a crowd of 26,623 spectators, including more than 14,000 black patrons. Black baseball fans began flocking to see the Dodgers when they came to town, abandoning their Negro league teams which they had followed exclusively. Robinson's promotion met a generally positive, although mixed, reception among newspapers and white major league players. Manager Leo Durocher informed his team, "I do not care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a fuckin' zebra. I'm the manager of this team, and I say he plays. What's more, I say he can make us all rich. And if any of you cannot use the money, I will see that you are all traded."[39]

After a strike threat by some players, NL President Ford Frick and Baseball Commissioner Happy Chandler let it be known that any striking players would be suspended. Robinson received significant encouragement from several major league players, including Dodgers teammate Pee Wee Reese who said, "You can hate a man for many reasons. Color is not one of them." That year, Robinson earned the inaugural Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year Award (separate NL and AL Rookie of the Year honors were not awarded until 1949).

Less than three months later, Larry Doby became the first African-American to break the color barrier in the American League with the Cleveland Indians. He too faced the same type of discrimination as Robinson and went on to a Hall of Fame career. The next year, a number of other black players entered the major leagues. Satchel Paige was signed by the Indians and the Dodgers added three other black players besides Robinson.

Expanding west, south and north

Main article: Major League Baseball relocation of 1950s-1960s

From 1903 to 1953, the two major leagues consisted of two eight-team leagues. The 16 teams were located in just ten cities, all in the northeastern and midwestern United States: New York City had three teams and Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and St. Louis each had two teams. St. Louis was the southernmost and westernmost city with a major league team. The longest possible road trip, from Boston to St. Louis, took about 24 hours by railroad. The era of expansion and realignment began in 1953 when the National League's Boston Braves became the Milwaukee Braves. In 1954, the St. Louis Browns became the Baltimore Orioles. In 1955, the Philadelphia Athletics became the Kansas City Athletics. These were three of the least successful major league franchises, even though the Braves were usually an above-.500 team, and they and the Browns had each won a league championship during the 1940s. These three moves were not controversial. The next pair of franchise moves is still controversial.

Baseball experts consider the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers' boss Walter O'Malley to be "perhaps the most influential owner of baseball's early expansion era."[40] Before the 1958 Major League Baseball season, he moved the Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles.[41] When O'Malley moved the Dodgers from Brooklyn, he appeared on the cover of TIME magazine.[42] O'Malley was also influential in persuading the rival New York Giants to move west and become the San Francisco Giants. The Giants were already suffering from slumping attendance records at their aging ballpark, the Polo Grounds. Had the Dodgers moved out west alone, the St. Louis Cardinals—1,600 mi (2,575 km) away[43][44]—would have been the closest NL team. The joint move made West Coast road trips economical for visiting teams.[45] O'Malley invited San Francisco Mayor George Christopher to New York to meet with Giants owner Horace Stoneham.[45] Stoneham was considering moving the Giants to Minnesota,[46] but he was convinced to join O'Malley on the West Coast at the end of the 1957 campaign. The meetings occurred during the 1957 season and against the wishes of Commissioner of Baseball Ford Frick.[47] The dual moves were successful for both franchises — and for MLB.[41] The Dodgers set a major-league, single-game attendance record in their first home appearance with 78,672 fans.[45]

In 1961, the "first" Washington Senators franchise moved to Minneapolis–St. Paul to become the Minnesota Twins. Two new teams were added to the American League at the same time: the Los Angeles Angels (who soon moved from downtown L.A. to nearby Anaheim) and a new "second" Washington Senators franchise. The National League followed suit by adding the Houston Astros and the New York Mets in 1962. The Astros (known as the "Colt .45s" during their first three seasons) became the first southern major league franchise since the Louisville Colonels folded in 1899. The Mets established a reputation for futility by going 40–120 during their first season of play in the nation's media capital—and by playing only a little better in subsequent campaigns—but in their eighth season (1969) the Mets became the first of the 1960s expansion teams to win a World Series.

In 1966, Major League Baseball moved to the "Deep South" when the Braves moved to Atlanta. In 1968, the Kansas City Athletics moved west to become the Oakland Athletics. In 1969, the American and National Leagues both added two expansion franchises. The American League added the Seattle Pilots (who became the Milwaukee Brewers after one disastrous season in Seattle) and the Kansas City Royals. The National League added the first Canadian franchise, the Montreal Expos, as well as the San Diego Padres.

In 1972, the second Washington Senators moved to the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex to become the Texas Rangers. In 1977, baseball expanded again, adding a second Canadian team, the Toronto Blue Jays, as well as the Seattle Mariners. This marked the end of the expansion era: no new teams were added and no teams moved until the 1990s. In 1993, the National League added the Florida Marlins in the Miami area and the Colorado Rockies in Denver. In 1998, the Brewers switched leagues by joining the National League and two new teams were added: the National League's Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix and the American League's Tampa Bay Devil Rays in St. Petersburg, Florida.

After the 2001 season, the team owners voted in favor of contraction. The Montreal Expos and the Minnesota Twins were expected to be the two teams which would cease to exist. Due to lawsuits from various parties, this plan was first delayed and finally abandoned in June 2002.

The Expos became the first franchise in over three decades to move when they became the Washington Nationals in 2005. This move left Canada with just one team, but it also returned baseball to the United States capital city after a 33-year absence. This franchise shift, like many previous ones, involved baseball's return to a city which had been previously abandoned. Although there are a number of cities that permanently lost major league baseball in the 19th century, since 1901 all cities, other than Montreal, that have been granted an MLB franchise currently host an MLB team. (This is not counting the short-lived Federal League. However, the two established leagues have only passed over two Federal League markets — Buffalo and Indianapolis.)

Pitching dominance and rule changes

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"[48]Boston Red Sox player Carl Yastrzemski won the American League batting title with an average of just .301, the lowest in history of Major League Baseball.[49] Detroit Tigers pitcher Denny McLain won 31 games, making him the only pitcher to win 30 games in a season since Dizzy Dean in 1934.[50] St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Bob Gibson achieved an equally remarkable feat by allowing an ERA of just 1.12.[51]

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.[52]

In 1973 the American League, which had been suffering from much lower attendance than the National League, sought to increase scoring even further by initiating the designated hitter (DH) rule.[53]

New stadiums and artificial surfaces

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, as baseball expanded, NFL football had been surging in popularity, making it economical for many of these cities to build multi-purpose stadiums instead of single-purpose baseball fields. Because of climate and economic issues many of these facilities had playing surfaces made from artificial turf, as well as the oval designs characteristic of stadiums designed to house both baseball and football.[54] This often resulted in baseball fields with relatively more foul territory than older stadiums. These characteristics changed the nature of Major League Baseball, putting a higher premium on speed and defense over home-run hitting power, since the fields were often too big for teams to expect to hit many home runs and foul balls hit in the air could more easily be caught for outs.

Teams began to be built around pitching - particularly their bullpens - and speed on the basepaths. Artificial surfaces meant balls traveled quicker through the infield and bounced higher so it became easier to hit ground balls "in the hole" between the corner and middle infielders. Starting pitchers were no longer expected to throw complete games; it was enough for a starter to go 6-7 innings and turn the game over to the team's closer, a position which grew in importance over these decades.

As stolen bases increased, home run totals dropped - after Willie Mays hit 52 home runs in 1965 only one player, George Foster, reached that mark until the 1990s. In 1981 MLB's home run leading totals were Mike Schmidt's 31 in the NL and 22 in the AL (4 players tied).

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 since become apparent that at least some of this power surge was a result of players using steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. 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. New pitches, such as the mysterious[55] gyroball, could shift the balance of power back to the defensive side. A pitching revolution would not be unprecedented; several pitches have changed the game of baseball, 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 Trevor Hoffman, Greg Maddux, Jamie Moyer, Tom Glavine, Johan Santana, Pedro Martínez and Tim Lincecum. Recently, pitchers such as Lincecum, Jonathan Sánchez, and Ubaldo Jiménez have been throwing changeups with a split-finger grip, creating a dropping movement, dubbed the "split change."[56][57][58][59]


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.[60]

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.[61][62][63] 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.[64] 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.[65]

Caps, or other types of headgear with eyeshades, have been a part of baseball uniforms from the beginning.[66][67] Baseball teams often wore full-brimmed straw hats or no cap at all since there was no official rule regarding headgear.[68] Completing the baseball uniform are cleats and stockings, both of which had been around since the beginning of baseball.

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 away (on the road) at the other team's ballpark. It became common to wear white pants with a white color vest at home and gray pants with a gray or solid (dark) colored vest when away. Most teams also have one or more alternate uniforms, usually consisting of the primary or secondary team color on the vest instead of the usual white or gray. In the past few decades throwback uniforms have become popular.

Traditionally, home uniforms display the team name on the front, while away uniforms display the team's placename. In modern times, however, exceptions to this pattern have become common, with teams using their team name on both uniforms. The Rangers and the Marlins use their placename on both the home and away uniforms, being Texas and Miami respectively, while the Tampa Bay Rays, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim each wear their nickname instead of their location name on their uniform. (In the case of the Angels, it is because of the controversy over whether the location name should be Los Angeles, Anaheim, or otherwise.[59])

Season structure

Spring training

Main article: Spring training

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. The teams are divided into the Cactus League[69] and the Grapefruit League.[70] 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. Autograph seekers also find greater access to players during spring training.

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. As pitchers benefit from a longer training period, pitchers and catchers begin spring training one or two weeks before the rest of the team.[71]

Regular season

The current MLB regular season consists of 162 games per team, which typically begins on the first Sunday in April and ends on the first Sunday in October. Each team's schedule is organized typically into 3-game series, with occasional two- or four-game series.[72] Postponed games or continuations of suspended games can result in an ad hoc one-game or five-game series. A team's series are organized into homestands and road trips that group multiple series together. Teams generally play games five to seven days per week, commonly having Monday or Thursday as an off day. Frequently, games are scheduled at night. Sunday games are generally played during the afternoon, allowing teams to travel to their next destination prior to a Monday night game. In addition, teams will play day games frequently on Opening Day, holidays, and getaway days.

With an odd number of teams in each league (15), it is necessary to have two teams participate in interleague play for most days in the season, except when two or more teams have a day off. Each team plays 20 interleague games throughout the season, usually with just one interleague game per day, but for one weekend in late May all teams will participate in an interleague series. Use of the DH rule is determined by the home team's league rules. Before 2013 interleague play was structured differently: there would be one weekend in mid-May and another period consisting typically of the last two-thirds of June in which all teams played interleague games (save for two NL teams each day), and no interleague games were scheduled outside those dates.

Over the course of a season, teams compete for one of the five playoff berths in their league. They can win one of these berths by either winning their division, or by capturing a wild card spot.[73]

Infrequently, after the conclusion of the 162-game season, an additional tie-breaking game (or games) may be needed to determine postseason participation.[74]

All-Star Game

In early-to-mid July, just after the midway point of the season, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game is held during a four-day break from the regular-season schedule. 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. From 1959 to 1961, two games were held, one in July and one in August. The designated-hitter rule was used in the All-Star game for the first time in 1989. Following games used a DH when the game was played in an AL ballpark. Since 2010, the DH rule has been in effect regardless of venue.[75]

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.[76] 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.[77] (In 2002, this was renamed the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award.)

Beginning in 1947, the eight position players in each team's starting lineup have been voted into the game by fans.[78] The fan voting was discontinued after a 1957 ballot-box-stuffing scandal in Cincinnati: seven of the eight slots originally went to Reds players, two of whom were subsequently removed from the lineup to make room for Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. Fan voting was reinstated in 1970 and has continued ever since, including Internet voting in recent years.

The 2002 contest in Milwaukee controversially ended in an 11-inning tie. Since 2003, the league which wins the All-Star game gets home-field advantage in the World Series: the league champion hosts the first two games at its own ballpark as well as the last two (if necessary). The National League did not win an All-Star game and thus gain home-field advantage until 2010; it was able to overcome this disadvantage and win in three of the seven World Series from 2003 to 2009.[79][80]

From the first All-Star Game, players have worn their regular team uniforms, 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.[81][82]


World Series Records
Team Number
of Series
New York Yankees † (AL) 27 2009 40
St. Louis Cardinals † (NL) 11 2011 19
Oakland Athletics † (AL) 9 1989 15
Boston Red Sox † (AL) 8 2013 12
San Francisco Giants † (NL) 7 2012 21
Los Angeles Dodgers † (NL) 6 1988 21
Cincinnati Reds (NL) 5 1990 9
Pittsburgh Pirates (NL) 5 1979 7
Detroit Tigers (AL) 4 1984 11
Atlanta Braves † (NL) 3 1995 9
Baltimore Orioles † (AL) 3 1983 7
Minnesota Twins † (AL) 3 1991 6
Chicago White Sox † (AL) 3 2005 5
Chicago Cubs (NL) 2 1908 10
Philadelphia Phillies (NL) 2 2008 7
Cleveland Indians † (AL) 2 1948 5
New York Mets (NL) * 2 1986 4
Toronto Blue Jays (AL) * 2 1993 2
Miami Marlins † (NL) * 2 2003 2
Kansas City Royals (AL) * 1 1985 2
Arizona Diamondbacks (NL) * 1 2001 1
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim † (AL) * 1 2002 1
San Diego Padres (NL) * 0   2
Texas Rangers † (AL) * 0   2
Milwaukee Brewers(AL to NL, 1998) * 0   1 [AL]
Houston Astros(NL to AL, 2013) * 0   1 [NL]
Colorado Rockies (NL) * 0   1
Tampa Bay Rays † (AL) * 0   1
Seattle Mariners (AL) * 0   0
Washington Nationals † (NL) * 0   0
AL=American League (62 victories)
NL=National League (46 victories)
* joined the Major Leagues after 1960
(9 victories in 19 World Series out of 48 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.
More detail at

When the regular season ends after the first Sunday in October (or the last Sunday in September), ten teams enter the postseason playoffs. Six teams are division champions; the remaining four "wild-card" spots are filled by the two teams in each league that have the best record but are not division champions. Four rounds of series of games are played to determine the champion:

  1. Wild Card Game, a one-game playoff between the two wild-card teams in each league.
  2. American League Division Series and National League Division Series, each a best-of-five-games series.
  3. 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. The league champions are informally referred to as the AL and NL pennant winners.
  4. World Series, a best-of-seven-games series played between the pennant winners of each league.

Within each league, the division winners are the #1, #2 and #3 seeds, based on win–loss records. The team with the best record among non division winners will be the first wildcard and the #4 seed. The team with the second best record among non division winners will be the second wildcard and the #5 seed. In the wildcard round, the #5 seed will play at the #4 seed in a one game playoff. For the division series, the matchup will be the #1 seed against the Wild Card Game winner and the #2 seed against the #3 seed.[83] 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 home fields of the two teams, home-field advantage does not usually play a large role in the postseason unless the series goes to its maximum number of games, giving one team an additional game at home. However, the first two games of a postseason series are hosted by the same team. That team may have an increased chance of starting the series with two wins,[84] thereby gaining some momentum for the rest of the series.[85]

Use of the DH rule in the World Series is determined by the home team's league rules.[86]

International play

Since 1986, a team of MLB 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.[87]

In 2008, MLB 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.[88]

In November 2011, Major League Baseball played the MLB Taiwan Series in Taiwan. It was a series of five exhibition games played by a team made up of MLB players called the MLB All-Stars and the Chinese Taipei National Team. The MLB All-Stars swept the series, five games to zero.[89] At the end of the 2011 season, it was announced that the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics would play their season openers in Japan.[90]

The Arizona Diamondbacks will open the 2014 season against Los Angeles Dodgers on March 22–23 at in Australia. The teams will play each other at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground, which has a seating capacity of 36,000. The two games will represent the first MLB regular-season play held in that country. The games will count as home games for the Diamondbacks, so they will play 79 home games at Chase Field.[91]

Steroid policy

The original steroid policy, in effect from 2002 to 2005, 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.[93]

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[94] to investigate the use of performance-enhancing drugs in MLB.[95] 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 types of steroids and growth hormone by baseball superstars Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield, 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.[95]

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. The Mitchell report pointed out that HGH is likely a placebo with no performance-enhancing effects.[96] The report included allegations against at least one player from each of the thirty MLB teams.[97] On December 12, 2007, the day before the report was to be released, Selig said, regarding his decision to commission the report, "I haven't seen the report yet, but I'm proud I did it."[98][99]

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".[100] 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 Yankees–Red Sox rivalry. 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.[101] 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, 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.[102] After the investigation, Dowd told the Baltimore Sun that he was convinced the former senator had done a good job.[103] The Los Angeles Times reported that Mitchell acknowledged that his "tight relationship with Major League Baseball left him open to criticism".[104] 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".[104]

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.[105] In 2009, three of baseball's biggest stars faced steroid scandals or allegations. Allegations surfaced against Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz that year, and Manny Ramirez received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for banned substances. In early April 2011, Ramirez retired from baseball rather than face a 100-game suspension for his second positive steroid test. If he had not retired, Ramirez would have become the first MLB player suspended twice for performance-enhancing drug violations.[106]

On January 10, 2013, MLB and the players union reached an agreement to add random, in-season HGH testing. They also agreed to implement a new test to reveal the use of testosterone. Testing began in the 2013 season.[107]

MLB in media


Since 2008, Fox Sports has broadcast MLB games on Fox Saturday Baseball throughout the entire season; Fox previously only broadcast games from May to September.[108] Fox also holds rights to the All-Star Game each season. Fox also alternates League Championship Series broadcasts, broadcasting the American League Championship Series (ALCS) in odd-numbered years and the National League Championship Series (NLCS) in even-numbered years. Fox broadcasts all games of the World Series. ESPN continues to broadcast MLB games through 2013 as well, beginning with national Opening Day coverage.[99] ESPN broadcasts 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.[99]

TBS airs Sunday afternoon regular season games (non-exclusive) nationally. In 2007, TBS began its exclusive rights to any tiebreaker games that determine division or wild card champions; it also airs exclusive coverage of the Division Series round of the playoffs.[109] TBS carries the League Championship Series that are not included under Fox's television agreement; TBS shows the NLCS in odd-numbered years and the ALCS in even-numbered years.[110]

In January 2009, MLB launched the MLB Network, featuring news and coverage from around the league, and airing 26 live games in the 2009 season.[111] Each team also has local broadcasts for all games not carried by Fox on Saturdays or ESPN on Sunday nights. These games are typically split between a local broadcast television station and a local or regional sports network (RSN), though some teams only air local games through RSNs or through their own team networks. As Canada only contains one team, Sportsnet broadcasts Toronto Blue Jays games nationally. The channel is owned by Rogers Communications, who is also the parent company of the Blue Jays.[112] Additionally, it also airs Fox's Saturday afternoon games, other regular season games, and the post-season.

Blackout policy

MLB has several blackout rules.[113] 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 Networks also show 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 during 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.[114] MLB's streaming Internet video service is also subject to the same blackout rules.

Radio and Internet

ESPN Radio holds national broadcast rights and broadcasts Sunday Night Baseball weekly throughout the season in addition to all playoff games.[115] 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) have a national reach with affiliates located across the United States.[116] 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.[117]

Major League Baseball is also broadcast on the internet. All games are available via subscription to at Major League Baseball's website,[118] Blackout rules are still applied.

International broadcasting

Sportsnet televises Toronto Blue Jays games in Canada as well as numerous other regular season MLB games, the All-Star Game, most playoff games, and the World Series. TSN2 carries ESPN Sunday Night Baseball in Canada. ESPN Deportes televises a large number of Major League Baseball games in Spanish and Portuguese, which air throughout Latin America.[119] Wapa 2 airs games in Puerto Rico.

Five in the United Kingdom previously screened MLB games, including the All-Star Game and the postseason games, on Sunday and Wednesday usually starting at 1 am BST. Most recently, Johnny Gould and Josh Chetwynd presented "MLB on Five" on that station.[120] The channel covered baseball beginning on its opening night in 1997, but for financial reasons, the decision was made not to pick up MLB for the 2009 season.[121] ESPN UK show live and recorded games several times a week — it is available with BT Sport and (on a subscriber-basis) Virgin Media in the UK. ESPN America televised a large number of games in Europe, but the channel ceased to air on July 31, 2013. Digital+ broadcasts several games (mostly delayed) per week in Spain.

ESPN India broadcasts a large number of games live both in standard and high definition in India. Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and MBC Sports+ broadcast live and taped games, usually involving teams with Korean players, in South Korea. Fox Sports Asia broadcasts in both standard and high definition to all of Asia.

In Australia, MLB games are regularly shown on ESPN Australia (subscription), Fox Sports (subscription) and One HD (free-to-air).

Current franchises


See also

Baseball portal


Further reading

  • Banner, Stuart. The Baseball Trust: A History of Baseball's Antitrust Exemption. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • Bouton, Jim. Ball Four: My Life and Hard Times Throwing the Knuckleball in the Major Leagues. World Publishing Company, 1970.
  • Buchanan, Lamont, The World Series and Highlights of Baseball, E. P. Dutton & Company, 1951.
  • Cohen, Richard M., Neft, David, Johnson, Roland T., Deutsch, Jordan A., The World Series, 1976, Dial Press.
  • Deutsch, Jordan A., Cohen, Richard M., Neft, David, Johnson, Roland T., The Scrapbook History of Baseball, Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1975.
  • King, Corretta. Jackie Robinson. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.
  • James, Bill. The Historical Baseball Abstract. New York: Villard, 1985 (with many subsequent editions).
  • Lanigan, Ernest, Baseball Cyclopedia, 1922, originally published by Baseball Magazine.
  • Lansch, Jerry, Glory Fades Away: The Nineteenth Century World Series Rediscovered, Taylor Publishing, 1991. ISBN 0-87833-726-1.
  • Murphy, Cait. Crazy '08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History. New York: Smithsonian Books, 2007. ISBN 978-0-06-088937-1.
  • Okkonen, Marc. Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century: The Official Major League Baseball Guide, 1991.
  • Ritter, Lawrence. The Glory of their Times. New York: MacMillan, 1966. Revised edition, New York: William Morrow, 1984.
  • Ross, Brian. "Band of Brothers". Minor League News, April 6, 2005. Available at Minor League News.
  • Seymour, Harold. Baseball: The Early Years. 2v. New York: Oxford University Press, 1960. ISBN 0-19-500100-1.
  • Turkin, Hy, and Thompson, S.C., The Official Encyclopedia of Baseball, 1951, A.S. Barnes and Company
  • Tygiel, Jules. Past Time: Baseball as History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-19-514604-2.
  • The New York Times, The Complete Book of Baseball: A Scrapbook History, 1980, Bobbs Merrill.

External links

  • ()
  • ArmchairGM MLB Portal
  • Baseball History Site
  • Baseball Prospectus
  • Baseball Think Factory
  • Boxscore Archive contains official play-by-play and boxscores since 2002.
  • ESPN Baseball Index
  • ESPN Video Archive: Major League Baseball
  • Pitch In For Baseball – A MLB and MLB International partner charity
  • The Baseball Page
  • Urban Youth Academy (MLB)
  • "MLB, China Baseball League Team to Tour China",, Mar 3, 2005. Voice of America.

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