[[caption-width-right:350:Ty Cobb, batting for the Detroit Tigers in 1908]]

->''"The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again."''
--> -- '''Terrence Mann''', ''Film/FieldOfDreams''

Often called "America's National Pastime," the GameOfNerds, and--[[GermansLoveDavidHasselhoff in Japan]]--''Yakyu'' (lit. "field ball"), baseball is a sport that is ([[TakeThat despite what the International Olympic Committee thinks]]) played throughout the world, although it only has a large spectator base in North America, the northern half of Latin America (i.e. around the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean), and East Asia.

For basic rules and such see Wiki/TheOtherWiki. For the complete and very technical MLB rules see [[http://www.mlb.com/mlb/official_info/official_rules/foreword.jsp the MLB website.]]

'''[[WMG:Secret Origins]]'''

The Origin of Baseball is something of a MultipleChoicePast. The traditional story (sponsored by [[WordOfGod Albert Spalding]] at the turn of the 20th century) is that it was created in 1839 by a young Abner Doubleday in his hometown of Cooperstown, New York. Since Doubleday would grow up to be a general during the [[UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar Civil War]], this played well with the PatrioticFervor of the day. However, it was also based upon BlatantLies told by an old man and doesn't really hold up. At all. Respected sports journalist Henry Chadwick offered his counter belief that Baseball had simply evolved from the earlier bat-and-ball games, such as the Irish game of Rounders and/or possibly UsefulNotes/{{Cricket}} (which had a following among the early American gentry; UsefulNotes/GeorgeWashington was an avid cricketer). Chadwick, himself an English immigrant,[[note]]His father James had been tutor to John Dalton, the father of atomic theory, at a Quaker academy in Manchester, and his older half-brother Edwin Chadwick was a noted social and sanitary reformer in England who was knighted for his efforts.[[/note]] was originally a cricket reporter for ''The New York Times'' when he stumbled upon an early game being played at the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, UsefulNotes/NewJersey in the 1850s, at which point he fell in love with baseball.

Americans have been playing bat-and-ball games with the name "base ball" or suchlike since at least the 1790s: a document from 1791 was found in the city of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, that mentions "base ball" (specifically in the context of it being [[BrokenGlassPenalty banned anywhere in the vicinity of the town hall's expensive glass windows]]). That said, this form of the game probably did not resemble modern baseball except in the vaguest way (i.e.: a bat, a ball, fielders, outs), and varied wildly across place and time. These variations were critical to the development of what we know as baseball, however, as contrary to legend, the general consensus is that the modern game wasn't born anywhere or at any single time, but probably slowly developed over time until it finally started resembling the modern game some time in the middle of the 19th century. We can reasonably say that the modern game took its form starting in the 1840s, with the earliest known written rules that resemble modern baseball traced to New York man Alexander Cartwright, who wrote the "Knickerbocker rules" for the "Knickerbocker Base Ball Club," an association of young professionals who played one of these early forms of the sport, in 1845.

Cartwright's rules pulled together some existing rules for bat-and-ball games (games which went by a number of names, of which "town ball" and "base ball" were the most common) into a coherent whole, including the ideas of strikes and strikeouts, three outs per inning, fixed batting orders, and getting out by catching a fair ball. Cartwright also added a few new ones--most significantly, he cooked up a new rule that fielders could not throw the ball at baserunners to get them out, replacing that traditional--and dangerous--way of getting outs by inventing tagging the base. The Knickerbocker rules proved popular among the New York clubs, and within a few short years, most New York-area teams were playing under some variation of the Knickerbocker rules--which Cartwright kept updating and tinkering with as people saw how new rules played out. Of course, the game was no less a free-for-all for that, and new rules emerged among the New York baseball clubs playing under increasingly-modified versions of the Knickerbocker rules in the 1850s, many of which made their way into the modern game. These include the distance between the pitcher's mound and home plate, the distances between the bases, the adoption of the nine-inning structure (1857), nearly-modern rules about counting foul balls as strikes (1858), and the strike zone (1858).

You will notice that these nearly-modern rules coalesced in the 1850s. You might also recall that UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar began in 1861. You might think these two had something to do with each other. If so, you would be right. New York, being the largest city in the country, provided a large number of soldiers to the Union Army, and New Yorkers had the opportunity to spread their baseball rules across the Army in the long stretches of encamped boredom the troops experienced. They even managed to spread the game to the South, as many New York units were assigned to guard Confederate prisoners--and war or no war, they taught their prisoners their favorite game. Thus, over the course of the war, the New York baseball of the 1850s became America's baseball.

While all this was going on, we had the development of a professional game creating the impetus for a single, steady set of rules. In 1857, the National Association of Base Ball Players, the first thing approaching organized baseball, was founded by 16 clubs in the New York area, and later attracting some more clubs from farther away. As mentioned above, it began to standardize the rules of the game into something that began to resemble modern baseball, and these rules began to spread over the next decade. It was initially an all-amateur organization, then became a part-professional part-amateur organization in 1869, and, when that led to a whole host of problems about how to count games between amateur and professional teams and handle players hopping around and clubs popping in and out of existence mid-season, the first professional baseball league (for that matter, the first professional league of any sport), the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, was created in 1871. It has been debated whether the National Association counts as a true "Major" League or whether the first Major League was the current National League, which was founded in 1876 after the National Association collapsed.

(If the history of the sport is what you're interested in Creator/KenBurns' ''Baseball'' is an excellent and engrossing way to get at it.)

'''[[WMG:Rules of the Game]]'''

Like all bat-and-ball games, baseball is at its core a very simple game. Two teams take turns either batting or fielding. One member of the fielding team (in baseball, the pitcher) throws the ball at members of the batting team. The batting team tries to hit the ball with a stick to score runs. The fielding team tries to get a certain number of the batting team "out" so they can take their turn to bat: either the guy throwing the ball can do so by throwing the ball into a "strike zone" and the batter not hitting it, or the other fielders can get outs by catching the ball and some other things. The devil, of course, is in the details.

!!! Equipment

At the absolutely most basic level (say, to play between friends) you need only two things to play baseball--a ball and a stick. No, really:

* The ball: An official baseball has a golf ball-sized center made of either cork or rubber wrapped with yarn and encased in white leather. These are used in most situations, but in private games for fun, it isn't unheard-of to see tennis balls make an appearance.
* The bat: The official regulations of Major League Baseball really do define the bat as a stick. "The bat shall be a smooth, round stick not more than 2.61 inches in diameter at the thickest part and not more than 42 inches in length. The bat shall be one piece of solid wood." The wood is generally ash or maple (hickory, along with ash, is considered traditional, like willow is for UsefulNotes/{{cricket}} bats, but it is rarely used anymore; maple was first allowed in the Majors in the 1980s). You could, in theory, show up with a wooden dowel from the hardware store and legally bat in an MLB game. You probably wouldn't get anywhere with it, but you ''could'' do it.
** Note: Amateur baseball generally allows metal bats, generally made from aluminum. These supposedly allow for faster, farther hits. These bats are also tightly regulated--you see, a certain structure and composition of bat makes the ball fly so fast the pitcher can't avoid injury from the flying ball.

In organized games, you will also need:

* Gloves: Leather, with different types for different fielding positions. There are six basic types, five (pitcher's, catcher's, first baseman's, infielder's, and outfielder's) being based on position. The sixth is for switch-throwers (i.e. ambidextrous ones); it has two thumb sockets. It should be noted that the gloves for catchers and first basemen are traditionally called "mitts".
* Helmets: For batters, so they don't get concussions when accidentally (or not) get beaned by the pitcher.
* Shoes with cleats: In professional baseball, the cleats are metal. Certain players[[note]](cough) Ty Cobb (cough)[[/note]] gained a bad reputation for deliberately using their cleats as weapons against the opposing team.
* Uniforms: Baseball uniforms are button-up, short-sleeved, have a few distinctive collar styles (most commonly forms resembling 19th-century shirts without their collars--remember, up until the mid-to-late 20th century, most men's shirts had detachable collars--but also including collared shirts at times, particularly in throwback uniforms),[[note]]You'll wonder why this is. If you look at pictures of baseball games from the earlier years of the sport, you'll find that the uniforms include collars. Many if not most of these were detachable. Eventually, ballplayers got tired of using collars and just wore their uniforms collarless, and at a certain point nobody cared.[[/note]] and have long pants worn with distinctive stockings (and, in some throwback uniforms, ''knee-breeches''), harking back to the game's 19th-century origins (although the materials today are very modern), and typically feature ''belts'' (not usually associated with sports today). Home uniforms are, generally speaking, predominantly white, while away uniforms are most often gray, although other dark colors are common. At the highest levels of play, the home uniforms bear the team nickname while the away uniforms typically bear the name of the place from which they hail (e.g.: the Boston Red Sox have "Red Sox" in red on white on home uniforms but "Boston" in red on gray for the away ones). Most teams will often feature a colored alternate "softball" jersey for home openers and other special occasions. Baseball uniforms also give us the baseball cap, worn while fielding. This particular item is, long story short, derived from the floppy [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kepi kepi hats]] worn by soldiers in the UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar; the first documented use of soft caps with a forward brim in baseball dates to 1865--right after the Civil War ended.

!!! The field

A baseball field is approximately a quarter of a circle or an oval. Much like cricket fields, the precise overall size is not officially defined, so different fields play to the strengths of different teams/players. The playable area is demarcated on the straight sides by "foul lines" painted in white on the grass. The curved edge of the field is generally marked by a fence or wall; this may meander somewhat to fit space constraints, particularly at higher levels of play.

Because a quarter of a circle or oval is roughly diamond-shaped, fields are often called diamonds. This is reinforced by the division of the field into an "infield" and and "outfield". The infield consists of a grassy square 90 feet on a side plus the dirt/clay (with a few exceptions) running tracks between the vertices of the square, plus a dirt/clay (with a few exceptions) arc-shaped area occupying a curved space between the square and the outfield. (The exceptions come in fields that are shared with sports that call for all-grass fields, e.g. [[UsefulNotes/AmericanFootball football]]: in some such shared fields, the running tracks and arc will be grassy as well, and if there is dirt it is in pits around the bases to allow players to slide safely. These were most common in the Major Leagues between the late 1960s and the 1990s, when many teams shared space with NFL teams; the last field with this layout was at Rogers Centre, where the Toronto Blue Jays shared the field with the [[UsefulNotes/CanadianFootballLeague CFL's]] Toronto Argonauts, but this was changed after the Argos left for BMO Field in 2016; while still artificial turf for now, the base paths are all dirt, like at Tampa Bay's Tropicana Field).[[note]]The Oakland Athletics still share a stadium, but there the parts of the football field that overlap with the infield are dirt.[[/note]] The outfield is everything not in the infield, and is entirely grassy unless the field is enclosed by a wall (as with virtually all professional parks), in which case it is almost always entirely grassy except for a fifteen-foot-wide dirt "warning track" around the edges (the idea being that the difference between stepping on grass and stepping on dirt gives outfielders running backwards to catch a fly ball an indication that they're about to smash ass-first into a giant barrier).[[note]]This feature started in 1923 with Yankee Stadium, which had a running track for the track-and-field events the owners imagined they would hold there around the edge; it was so useful to outfielders as a way of avoiding a common and embarrassing injury that it became a standard feature.[[/note]]

At the four corners of the infield are the eponymous bases, marked by (usually) white "plates".[[note]]Some plates for private use are differently colored--orange is usual. These are most often seen in school gym class.[[/note]] At the vertex of the diamond is home base, marked by home plate. Home plate is in the shape of a pentagon with three right angles, i.e. the prototypical elementary school drawing of a house (coincidentally). In organized baseball, this is usually made of rubber. It is flanked on either side by batter's boxes, painted-on rectangles in which the batter (see below) stands while batting. The remaining three bases are marked by square plates, numbered first, second, and third ''counter''-clockwise; in upper-level baseball, these are traditionally canvas sacks stuffed with something, hence "bag" an alternative term for "base." Lower-level games may use rubber for the numbered bases, as well.

The outfield is roughly divided into thirds, as well, with the divisions being called "left field", "center field", and "right field". Much like [[UsefulNotes/CricketRules cricket]] positions, the precise lines between these are somewhat fuzzy; unlike cricket positions, all three are always manned.[[note]]Well, ''almost'' always. Managers have been known, on occasion, to bring one of their outfielders in to play a "fifth infielder" position," but this is only done in exceptional circumstances. It's generally more common in amateur games than professional ones.[[/note]]

Another key element is the pitcher's mound, a raised area which marks the area from which the pitcher (again, see below) can legally pitch. The pitcher's mound is slightly off-center; at its center is a slab of rubber known in the rules as the "pitcher's plate" but more commonly called the "rubber". The slab's front edge is exactly 60.5 feet from the rear point of home plate. The pitcher must have at least one foot in contact with the rubber during his delivery. A fixed rule is that the outer edge of the curved region of dirt/clay between the foul lines and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd bases must be 95 feet from the mound. There are minimum standardized dimensions for the outfield fences, but these are ignored even in the major leagues for aesthetic and historical reasons (particularly when dealing with old parks). Traditionally, a dirt strip called the "keyhole" would connect the mound and home plate at many ballparks, but today, only two major-league ballparks (Comerica Park in Detroit and Chase Field in Phoenix, both neotraditional/"retro" parks) have it.

!!! Positions

Nine players are legally allowed to defend the field, and bat (one exception, see below). Substitutions are allowed any time the ball isn't in play, but a substituted player is not permitted to return to the game.[[note]]This rule applies in all leagues for adults and teenagers. Many youth baseball leagues (most notably Little League) allow a substituted player to re-enter the game once.[[/note]] Defending players may swap positions at will. Batting order is not fixed by position, and determined at the start of the game; generally, contact hitters with high on-base percentage will bat early, power hitters will bat in the middle of the lineup (with the #3 and #4 (cleanup) spots generally being the strongest hitters on the team),[[note]]As an aside: Numbers first appeared on baseball uniforms to indicate the players' places in the batting order. When numbers were first instituted on the New York Yankees in the 1920s, Babe Ruth had #3 and Lou Gehrig had #4, because that was their place in the order. Joe [=DiMaggio=] took #5 because he joined the team after Ruth retired; Gehrig thus moved to third in the batting order despite retaining his number 4, and the man following him would naturally be number 5 (to the people of his day).[[/note]] and the team's weakest hitters will bat last. Once the game starts, batting order may only be changed by substitution.

MLB teams may have a maximum of 25 players on the roster,[[note]]except for days of scheduled day-night doubleheaders—i.e., two games on the same day, but with the stadium cleared between games and separate tickets sold for both—when teams can carry a 26th player for that day only[[/note]] expanding to 40 after September 1 to allow playoff teams to rest starters and all teams to evaluate prospects in major league play. Postseason rosters contain 25 players, and can be constructed from any player who appeared in at least one game for the team during the season, with one restriction: the player must have been on the active roster, disabled list, bereavement list, or suspended list as of August 31. Players who do not meet this requirement but were in the team's minor league system can be added to the postseason roster as injury replacements (again, provided they appeared in at least one game during the season), while players acquired via trade or free agency after August 31 are not eligible for postseason play. Teams can make unrestricted roster changes between postseason series, but replacing a player in the middle of a series carries a hefty penalty: the replaced player must sit out not only the rest of that round, but the entire next round as well should his team make it that far. Since a team must have a considerable number of pitchers on the roster (10 to 12), and at least one back-up catcher [[note]]The catcher position is so specialized that non-catchers can't realistically play the position, and catchers usually can't play any other position except first base, at least not well[[/note]] many second string position players will be "utility" players adept at a number of roles. Occasionally, a position lacking any real star power will be played by a "platoon," a duo consisting of a right- and left-handed batter who swap out depending upon the opposing pitcher. [[note]]Because of the physics behind the way breaking pitches move, batters generally hit better against opposite handed pitchers. Since the majority of pitchers are right-handed, the lefty batter naturally sees more play time.[[/note]]

In Japan, each NPB[[note]]Nippon Professional Baseball, i.e. the Japanese major leagues[[/note]] team is allowed a 28-man active roster, but only 25 of these are eligible to play in any given game; the manager must designate three players on the roster who will be ineligible to play. Almost invariably, one of the three will be the starting pitcher from the team's previous game.

Player positions are usually referred to by number for scoring purposes.

* Pitcher (1): Responsible for pitching the ball to the batter, and fielding the pitcher's mound, as well as backing up first base on balls hit right. A successful pitcher typically has several pitches in his arsenal; which can be broadly sorted into 3 types, a ''fastball'' (a pitch designed to defeat batter by sheer speed with little to no movement, most commonly the ''four-seam fastball'', which is your vanilla fastball with the maximum speed), a ''changeup'' (a slower pitch thrown with the same delivery as a fastball, intended to confuse the batter), and a ''breaking ball'' (a pitch that changes direction in flight, and notably slower than the fastball, taking advantage of the fact that a baseball ''isn't'' perfectly spherical but rather has seams; these are most commonly ''the slider''--named after its swooping horizontal movement--and ''the curve''--named after its sudden "dropping" movement at the plate). Of course, there are pitches that doesn't fit into either of these 3 categories, namely the spinless ''knuckleball'', which doesn't break in the conventional sense so much as it wobbles, and the ''eephus pitch''--a slow, high arching trick pitch. These two unconventional pitches are even slower than breaking balls, so they are sometimes refered to as "junk pitches" as they are so slow, though it doesn't necessarily make them any easier to hit if pitched at the right time. Generally, pitchers are divided into two categories. Power pitchers succeed by the speed of their pitches and win games by striking out batters, relying heavily on fastballs. Control pitchers win games by preventing solid contact with their pitches and delivering few walks, typically relying more heavily on breaking pitches, changeups, and trick pitches (a pitcher with strong trick pitches is sometimes called a "junk-ball" pitcher). A team's pitching staff can usually be divided up as follows:
** ''Starting pitchers'' are usually the most effective pitchers on the roster, and are the ones who begin each game. Statistically speaking, the starting pitcher is usually the most significant factor in whether a team wins or loses the game, and they are paid accordingly. While pitchers once pitched entire games, most teams will now keep pitch counts, and try to replace a starter at around 100 pitches or if he becomes ineffective before that. Thus, pitching a complete game will now only even be attempted if the starter is pitching spectacularly even into the late innings. Pitching is a strenuous activity--one of the most strenuous in sports--and a major league pitcher will often require four to five days to recover in between games. Anything less is ''seriously'' damaging to both physical and mental health. Teams typically maintain a rotation of five starting pitchers, and over the course of a season will move pitchers in and out of the rotation to account for injuries or loss of effectiveness.
** ''Relief pitchers'', known collectively as the ''bullpen'', are the ones who replace the starter. These are generally less effective pitchers, or possess less stamina, than the starting pitchers. Some pitchers become relievers because they don't have as varied a repertoire of pitches; throwing one pitch extremely well can work for an inning or two. They can usually be divided into ''long relievers'' (responsible for relieving ineffective pitchers early in the game, generally the most expendable reliever, although starter-level stamina is required), ''middle relievers'', ''late relievers'', ''left-handed specialists'' (one-inning or one-out pitchers often used to put out a strong lefty hitter late in the game), ''set-up men'' (responsible for maintaining a close lead in the later innings; the team's second-best reliever), and ''closers'' (responsible for maintaining a close lead in the final inning; the team's best relief pitcher). The use of closers has been heavily criticized, especially since the recording of the "save" statistic (awarded for maintaining a close lead); many feel that "saves" are more due to the team's offensive ability and the law of averages, and that more games could be won by using the best reliever in any close situation rather than just the last three outs. On the other hand, some argue that keeping the best relievers scarce prevents hitters from getting wise to their pitches, and ensures their effectiveness.
** We should note here that the pitch and the batter's response to it is where a lot of the strategy comes in a baseball game. The nature of the pitch, and what the batter does with it, fully determines what the fielders do, and a smart batter can seriously back a pitcher into a corner if he can force the pitcher into a situation where his only option is to pitch a pitch he doesn't have. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1Bmr8hoCkg Here's]] Bill Lee, a great junk-ball pitcher who played on the 1960s-70s Red Sox, discussing this kind of strategic thinking (in a clip from the aforementioned Ken Burns' ''Baseball'').
* Catcher (2): Takes up position behind the batter, wearing protective gear. The catcher is the only defensive player permitted in foul territory at the time of the pitch. Will usually signal desired pitches to the pitcher, and is the most defensively-oriented position player on the team; responsible for fielding home plate, coordinating the infield players, and catching base stealers. As a result, most catchers (but not all) post poor offensive stats. A non-pitcher with a strong right throwing arm will usually end up as a catcher; southpaw catchers are rare enough to be a non-entity.[[note]]It is more difficult for a left-handed catcher to throw out potential base stealers since the majority of hitters are right-handed and would get in the way of a lefty-throwing catcher.[[/note]] Because of the coordination aspect, catcher is considered the most cerebral position in the game, with catchers having a reputation for being the brains of the infield at the very least, and it's not uncommon for retired catchers to go on to be managers (basebalese for "head coach") (Yogi Berra being the most famous instance). Ironically (and probably an intentional irony at that), the mask, chest pad, shin guards, and specialized mitt a catcher wears for protection are collectively known as the "tools of ignorance".
* First baseman (3): Takes up position at first base. Since this is the first base touched in the event of a base hit, he will take up position very close to the bag, and uses a special glove to field throws to first base. Given this, speed and ability to field grounders aren't factors for a successful first baseman, and since the player's right hand (the glove hand for a lefty) faces the infield, this is usually a dumping ground for a fat left-handed power hitter. (Right-handed first basemen are not uncommon, however.) Responsible for warming up the infield at the beginning of their defensive half-inning, which is why the first baseman is thrown a ball when their team retires from the field in order to bat.
* Second baseman (4): Takes up position between first and second base. Almost always right-handed[[note]]All the infielders except the first baseman are almost always right-handed. This is because a left-handed infielder would have to pivot before making a throw to first, which costs valuable time.[[/note]]. Fields grounders hit by left handed hitters, covers second base on balls hit to left, and backs up first base when needed. Usually requires a good mix of defensive and offensive skills. Emphasis on the former, since second base is the key man for any kind of double play.
* Third baseman (5): Fields third base, or the "hot corner". Requires quick reflexes and a very good throwing arm, as he is closest to the batter on any balls hit by right-handed batters, and must make the long throw to first. Third base often tends to be played by right-handed sluggers, the reason being that baseball has needed more offensive power since the live ball era of the 1920s. Shortstops and second basemen who show good offensive ability will often be moved to third base if their defensive skills decline due to age. An example is Cal Ripken Jr, who came up as a third baseman but played most of his career at shortstop before moving back to third in the twilight of his career. However, the best ''fielding'' third baseman is generally agreed to be Brooks Robinson, who was so good getting balls heading to his base that he was nicknamed, "The Human Vacuum Cleaner."
* Shortstop (6): Fields between second and third base, and covers second on balls hit right. Always right-handed[[note]] None have played in the major leagues since 1957, as opposed to 5 lefty second basemen and 45 lefty third basemen since the beginning of pro ball[[/note]].The name is something of [[TheArtifact an artifact]], as the player would once field much closer to the pitchers' mound and field balls in much less well-kept grass. Since most batters are right handed, and pull the ball to the left, this is the most defensive of the infield positions, and shortstops are usually selected for their defensive qualities, although some display impressive offensive ability as well.
* Left/center/right field (7,8,9): Outfielders. Take up position in the grass well outside of the infield. Responsible for catching fly balls, as well as any grounders or line drives that the infielders miss. Center field is the most demanding position defensively and is responsible for coordinating the outfield. The center fielder will generally be the fastest and most agile of the outfielders due to having the most ground to cover. Left field requires a decent amount of running speed. Right field requires a very strong throwing arm to make the throw to third. (The left and right fielders have equidistant throws to second and home; the left fielder's throw to first is as long as the right fielder's throw to third, but the need for such a throw to be made hardly ever arises.) All outfielders are generally very strong hitters. Since the infield is usually dominated by right-handed players, left-handed hitters that aren't placed at first due to injuries or rotundity will usually play outfield.
* Designated hitter: In leagues that allow the DH (most high school and college teams, MLB's American League, and NPB's Pacific League), the DH bats in place of the pitcher, and does not field a position. Something of a controversial position, as many baseball fans still believe in the "everybody hits, everybody fields" ethic taught to them back in Little League. There have been movements to normalize the rules between the two MLB leagues in this regard, especially since 2013 as interleague play is now in place throughout the season [[note]]In interleague play, the home team's rules are used; NL teams may use a DH in an AL stadium, and AL teams have pitchers bat in NL stadiums. [[/note]]. Leagues that permit the DH usually post much better offensive statistics than corresponding non-DH leagues, and the position is a way to allow power hitters who no longer possess the speed needed to field to continue their careers. George Brett and Frank Thomas would be notable examples, moving from the diamond in their last years in MLB. Many teams using the DH in the present no longer have a dedicated DH, but rotate among several very strong hitters to alternate a day off from fielding and provide a better matchup for the opposing pitcher.
** The DH is subject to a number of [[ObviousRulePatch obvious rule patches]]. If the DH is moved to a fielding position, the team forfeits the DH and the pitcher must bat. If substituted, a DH must occupy the same spot in the batting order as the preceding DH. These forestall a common tactic, known as the "double switch", used to push an undesirable batter to later in the batting order, and prevent the DH from cycling around more than once per nine at-bats. As a result, leagues without the DH feature more later-inning substitutions and managerial strategy regarding batting order.
** In some leagues, the DH can at least theoretically be used to bat in the place of a player other than the pitcher if so designated before the start of the game, since in amateur leagues the pitcher might not even be the worst batter in the lineup. At the high school level it's also not uncommon for a player to be pitcher and DH at the same time, and even continue to play in one position even after being substituted out in the other (though once substituted out, he can't return). At the professional level, this is a non-issue since position players who hit worse than pitchers aren't going to get pro contracts, any pitcher with halfway decent batting skill is more likely to be playing in the National League anyway, and MLB rules explicitly state that a DH cannot bat in place of anyone except a pitcher.
** Also note that the DH "rule" is technically an option: in the MLB, no team is obligated to use the DH, but for a practical matter, when allowed, it is almost always used. The San Francisco Giants made an attention-grabbing decision to decline the DH when they played the Oakland Athletics on June 30, 2016, and allow their pitcher Madison Bumgarner to hit. The last time a team intentionally waived their right to a DH before this was in 1976.

!!! Sequence of play

A baseball game is divided into a number of innings; major league games will play at least nine, high school teams may play 5 or 7-inning games. In one inning,[[note]]A note for our friends in Commonwealth countries other than Canada (Canadians should know this already): "inning" is ''singular'' in baseball--none of this "a good innings" grammar-mangling hooey you get in cricket for Americans.[[/note]] both teams will alternate between batting and fielding. Rather than a time or scoring-based system (like most goal sports), possession is determined by "outs"; each batting team has three before switching to field. A batter or runner who is called "out" may not attempt to advance and must return to the dugout, but is not removed from the game. Batters ultimately attempt to advance along the bases and reach home again, at which point their team is credited with a "run". The team with the most runs at the end of the game wins. In a tie situation, extra innings are played until there is a winner at the end of an inning. Usually only one or two extra innings are required, but April 29, 2013 saw two particularly long games; the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics played for 19 innings, while on the other coast the New York Mets and Miami Marlins played fifteen innings.

The pitcher throws balls towards the catcher, and the batter (taking up position in front of the catcher in one of the batter's boxes) will attempt to hit these balls. One of the following will happen:

* If the batter swings at the pitch and misses, or the pitch passes through the ''strike zone'' (over home plate, within an arbitrary set of vertical limits), a strike is called.
** If three strikes occur, the batter is out, and the pitcher is credited with a ''strikeout''. If the third strike is not cleanly caught, with either two outs or no runner on first[[note]]Like the infield fly rule, this is an ObviousRulePatch, designed to prevent the catcher from intentionally dropping a third strike for a double play[[/note]], the batter may attempt to "steal" first base. This is relatively uncommon in the big leagues, but this play famously cost the Brooklyn Dodgers a World Series in 1941.[[note]]The Dodgers were one out away from winning game 4, which would have tied the series at two games apiece. The batter struck out, which should have ended the game, but the third strike got by the Dodgers' catcher. The batter reached base, keeping the inning alive. The Yankees came back to win and took a three games to one lead in the series. They finished the Dodgers off the next day.[[/note]]
** While usually, if a batter is hit by a pitch it is an automatic walk, if they make a full swing as they are hit it is declared a strike. It will also be declared a strike if the pitch passed through the strike zone; you can't finagle a walk by standing over the plate.
** A strike is also called if the batter hits the ball into foul territory without it being caught (called a "foul ball"). The only exception to this is if there are already 2 strikes against the batter, and the batter hit the ball with a "real swing" rather than a bunt.
* If the pitch is not swung at, and outside the strike zone, a ball is called. A player's combined balls and strikes are referred to as "the count" and are listed with balls first in the USA; a count of 2-1, for example, means two balls and one strike.
** In non-American leagues, for example the Korean Baseball Organization, the count is sometimes given as strikes and balls.
** If four balls are called, a "base on balls" is declared (informally known as a "walk"), and the batter is awarded first base unopposed. Any player on first base advances to second, and other runners take one base if the batter or a runner behind them moves to their base; if the bases are loaded and the batter walks, a run is scored. A walk may be "intentional," in which the catcher stands far outside the strike zone and the pitcher makes four soft throws in rapid succession. The batter can still technically swing at these, but few ever try.
** A count of 3-2 (three balls, two strikes) is called a "full count." At the right time, a full count is often a very dramatic situation--since it means the only way for the batter to go is to run or to strike out ([[TakeAThirdOption or hit a foul ball...]])--and thus beloved of media. A full count with two outs generally results in the runners on base starting to run with the pitch, since the only reason they'd need to return to their base is for a foul ball.
* If the batter is hit by the pitch, made a reasonable effort to avoid it, and is hit outside of the strike zone, the batter is awarded a base in the same manner as a walk.
** If, in the umpire's judgment, the pitcher deliberately threw at the batter with the intent to hit them the umpire may warn the pitcher and both teams that any further "purpose pitches" will result in ejection from the game.
* If the catcher commits an illegal action preventing the batter from hitting the ball, "catcher's interference" is called, and the batter is awarded first base.
** If the catcher interferes, and the batter still hits the ball, the batter has the option of taking the result of the play or taking first base.
* If the pitcher commits an illegal action misdirecting baserunners as to whether or not he is making a pitch, a "balk" is declared, each runner advances one base, and the batter remains at bat with the previous count.
* If a third out is reached while the batter is still up (due to a runner being picked off or caught stealing), that batter will make the first plate appearance in the next inning with a new count.
* If the ball is hit into foul territory (outside the first and third base lines) and not caught before it hits the ground, it is a "foul ball." The ball is declared dead, and a strike is counted if the player has less than two strikes. If the foul ball is caught, the batter is out. If the ball is only "tipped" (light contact that doesn't impede the balls travel to the catcher's mitt), it is treated as an ordinary strike, even a third strike. A bunt into foul territory is also counted as a third strike.
* If the ball is hit and is caught in the air by a fielder -- whether that fielder is in fair or foul territory -- the batter is out. If there are less than two outs, any runners must "tag up" to their original base after such a catch. If the ball is thrown to the base before the runner "tags up" then the runner is also out. Runners may attempt to advance after the tag-up, even on a foul ball. A long flyout that allows a runner to advance home is referred to as a "sacrifice fly."
** A pop fly into the infield, with runners on first and second and less than two outs, is treated as a flyout even if not caught (the [[ThatOneRule infield fly rule]]). This is an ObviousRulePatch to prevent fielders from dropping an easily caught ball to provide for a double play. The infield fly rule is not in effect on a bunt.
* If the ball is hit into fair territory and is not caught in the air, the batter becomes a runner and may attempt to advance to first base. Any other runners on base may also attempt to advance. If the batter reaches at least first base, this is, with two exceptions, known as a ''hit''. The exceptions are:
** Hit on error: The fielding team makes a mistake in fielding the ball, allowing the batter to advance to first when he likely would have been put out.
** Fielder's choice: The fielding team opted to put out a runner other than the batter, effectively giving up first base.
* A batter-runner may also attempt to gain additional bases, known as a ''double'' or ''triple''. In extremely rare cases, the batter may advance the entire way around the park for an inside-the-park home run. The fielding team attempts to put runners out by either tagging them with the ball, or tagging a base the runner is forced into by runners behind him.
* If the pitcher throws to an occupied base, and a fielder tags the runner while he is not on (due to taking a lead in preparation for a hit or steal), the runner is out. This is referred to as a "pickoff," and is used more to keep runners close to their base rather than to actually get players out.
* Runners on base may attempt to "steal" bases while the ball is in play. If the runner is not tagged out, he is awarded the base and credited with a "stolen base." Note that the ball is in play even before the pitcher throws it.
* If a runner is struck by a batted ball before it is touched by a fielder, the runner is declared out for "interference". It is also interference if the runner deliberately obstructs the path of the ball or hinders a fielder from making a throw. If the purpose of the interference is to prevent a double play, both the batter and runner will be called out.
** On the other hand, if a fielder who does not have the ball or is not involved in the current play prevents a runner from advancing to the next base the umpire can call "obstruction" and declare the runner safe at the base they were advancing to.
* If the ball is hit into fair territory outside the field of play, a home run is declared, the batter and all runners advance to home, and sportswriters write articles on whether or not it would have been possible without performance-enhancing drugs. If this is done with the bases loaded -- i.e. there are already runners on first, second, ''and'' third -- this is called a "grand slam", and is kind of a big deal.
* If the ball is hit into fair territory, bounces on the ground in the field of play, and then exits the field of play without being handled, this is an automatic double, usually referred to, somewhat inaccurately, as a "ground-rule double".[[note]]This is something of a pedantic distinction, as the results of an automatic double and ground-rule double are identical. A true ground-rule double is a double awarded by rule due to [[GeoEffects a batted ball interacting with a terrain feature unique to the place where the game is being played]], e.g. the ivy at Wrigley Field, and therefore is a ''rule specific to the grounds being played on''.[[/note]] All runners are entitled to advance two bases, and the batter-runner goes to second base. The same occurs if a spectator touches a ball in play. Befitting the name, there are other stadium-specific methods of obtaining a ground-rule double; ''[[GratuitousLatin e.g.]]'', a ball becoming trapped in the ivy covering the outfield walls at Wrigley Field, or a batted ball hitting one of the myriad of catwalks at Tropicana Field.

(NOTE: This section under construction. Please help.)

!!! GameOfNerds, Redux: Stats and sabermetrics

(This section needs WikiMagic)

For the last 150 years of its existence, baseball has lent itself quite well towards the accumulation of individual statistics, being mostly a contest between batter and pitcher. The traditional "baseball card" stats are as follows:

* '''Batting Average''' (AVG): Safe hits divided by at-bats. It sounds simple enough, until you look into how "safe hit" and "at bat" are defined. Being walked, hit by a pitch, or reaching base on catcher's interference, are not considered hits, but the hitter is not charged with an at-bat. The hitter also is not charged with an at-bat if he performs a sacrifice bunt or hits a run-scoring fly ball (known as a sacrifice fly). Reaching base on an error or through a fielder's choice are not hits, but they ''are'' considered at-bats, so a hitter who does one of these things is basically charged with a hitless at-bat. A league-average player will probably have a batting average somewhere between .240 and .280 (in super-layman's terms, hitting the ball roughly once every four times you come to the plate--remember, it's not for nothing that people often call batting the most difficult act in sports[[note]]Again: a ball traveling at anywhere from 50 to over 100 miles per hour is coming at you and you have to hit it with a ''round stick'' substantially narrower than the ball. Even tennis players have a wide racket--and don't get us started on cricket bats. Then there's the pressure: you get three tries, more or less, to do this. Did we mention that the guy throwing it at you is specifically trying to make sure you don't manage it within those three tries?[[/note]]). Hitting at least .300 is usually considered an indicator of great skill, while hitting less than a point called the "Mendoza Line" (named after shortstop Mario Mendoza, who had a career .215 batting average but managed to play for a while by being a really good defensive shortstop), which lies somewhere between .190 and .220, depending on who you ask, will generally make you a bench player at best unless you're a really good defender or hit a lot of home runs. Anyone who consistently bats below the Mendoza Line is assumed to be hurting his team so badly on offense that his defensive prowess can't possibly make up for it.
* '''On-Base Percentage''' (OBP): Times reached base divided by plate appearances. Like batting average, except that walks and hit-by-pitch plate appearances count. Sacrifice Bunts don't count, as the batter-runner usually isn't trying to get on base when they bunt, but Sacrifice Flies (when the ball is caught by an outfielder, but a runner on base advances) do count as plate appearances. Despite being called a "percentage", it's usually written as a three-digit decimal, e.g. .355. It's probably written like this because batting average and slugging average are also written like this. The best players will usually have an OBP somewhere in the neighborhood of .400, with the average being somewhere between .320 and .330 and the worst at about .250.
* '''Slugging Average''' (SLG): Like Batting average, but adjusted for how many bases you got from the hit: each safe hit is multiplied by the number of bases earned during that play. Hitting a single counts as 1, a double counts as 2, a triple counts as 3, and a home run counts as 4. Batting Average, On-Base Percentage, and Slugging Average are sometimes referred to as the "Triple-Slash Stats" and are put next to each other in that order when referring to a player (e.g., .265/.341/.458).
* '''OPS''': On-base percentage Plus Slugging average. Widely considered to be the best all-around measure of a batter's performance, although quite a few stats geeks and general managers feel that it undervalues OBP (a 1.000 slugging percentage for an inning can mean anything; a 1.000 OBP for an inning is an infinite number of runs scored).
* '''Runs Batted In''' (RBI): The number of runs generated while the player is a batter-runner. Sacrifice plays count. Solo home runs also count, because the player batted himself in. It's one of the three stats of the hitting triple crown, along with Home Runs and Batting Average. Old-School statisticians like this stat a lot, but more modern ones like to point out that it depends heavily on the skill of a player's teammates and where in the batting order they hit (as does Runs Scored, but to a slightly lesser extent). Obviously, it's hard to bat many runs in if your teammates suck and don't get on base much. The players at the top of the batting order tend to have higher OBP's than the players at the bottom, so a player hitting 3rd - 5th will have more opportunities to get RBI's than a player hitting 8th-9th, or even 1st or 2nd.
* '''Runs Scored''' (R): [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Runs that the player personally scores.]]
* '''Earned Run Average''' (ERA): This is a pitching statistic. It's how many runs have been earned against a pitcher per 9-inning game. If, as is the case in most modern games, a pitcher doesn't play all 9 innings, his ERA is "pro-rated" for the fraction of a game he did play; i.e. it's the number of earned runs divided by innings pitched[[note]]An inning can be divided into thirds, 1/3 for each out, if the pitcher only pitched for part of the inning.[[/note]] and multiplied by 9. Pitchers rarely have anything to do with defense once the ball is put into play, and a pitcher's ERA may fluctuate wildly as a result, making it a questionable metric for pitching effectiveness. Various sabermetric replacements, called "defense-independent pitching statistics" have turned up, but none are in mainstream use.
* '''Wins and Losses''' (W-L): Awarded to pitchers, and attempts to credit them with winning or losing the game. A loss is awarded to the pitcher that gives up the run that puts the winning team into lead they hold for the rest of the game, and a Win is awarded to the pitcher that pitched the half-inning before that winning run scored. There are a few exceptions, the most commonly seen being that Starting Pitchers need to pitch at least 5 innings to get a win[[note]]if a starting pitcher fails to pitch five innings in a game in which he would otherwise receive the win, the official scorer awards the win to whatever reliever he feels pitched most effectively[[/note]]. Collectively, Wins and Losses are referred to as "Decisions". If a starter gets neither a win nor a loss, he gets a "No-Decision." Modern statheads consider this stat to be nearly worthless, because of the large number of ways a pitcher can fail to win a game they pitched well or win a game they pitched poorly- namely run support and the skill of the bullpen.
* '''Strikeouts''' (K)[[note]]While "K" is the common denotation among fans at statheads, the official MLB denotation is "SO"[[/note]]: Both a hitting stat and a pitching stat, though the pitching version is much more commonly used. For hitters, it's the number of times they strike out, and for pitchers, it's the number of batters they strike out. It, Wins, and Earned Run Average are the three stats that make up the pitching triple crown. It might be the only stat that old-school and modern statisticians can agree on the usefulness of. (The ability of a pitcher to record an out without having the ball put into play is considered extremely valuable.) A forward facing '''K''' is for strikeouts where the batter swings and misses on the third strike; for the third strike where the batter doesn't swing, it's noted with a backwards K, or '''K-L''', '''CK''', or '''Kc''' (the 'c' for 'called' strike).
* '''Bases on balls''' (BB): Walks, charged for the hitter and against the pitcher. For most of baseball's history, walks were not considered an offensive statistic, changing only with the focus on on-base percentage.
* '''Saves''' (S): Awarded to pitchers for pitching the end of a close game that they didn't start and didn't win, and came into with a lead. There's a few other additional requirements to define "close" (either pitching at least the last three innings, or entering with a lead of 3 or less and pitching at least one full inning, or entering with the tying run on base, at bat, or on deck). It may be the only case of a statistic creating a job in sports: Starting in the 1970's, teams started assigning the job of finishing games to one specific pitcher, the "closer." The position evolved into its current usage in the 1990s: a pitcher who pitches almost exclusively in situations where they can get a save, usually only in the 9th inning of a close game. Modern closers hardly ever enter a game earlier than the ninth inning (closers in the 70s and 80s would frequently pitch multiple innings), and a closer whose team is on the road playing in extra innings will usually be held back until his team takes the lead (since the game automatically ends if the home team takes the lead, the home team can afford to bring in their closer earlier). Some deride this stat for the current job of closers, pointing out that they rarely come into a game at a point where the lead is an any serious danger of being lost. That it's possible to get a save for doing nothing more than pitching the last three innings of a game, regardless of the score, also occasionally leads to saves being awarded in total blowouts, notably a game in 2007 in which Texas Rangers pitcher Wes Littleton earned a save despite his team winning the game ''30-3.''
* '''Error''' (E): Charged by the official scorer when he or she feels that a fielder misplayed a ball, allowing a batter or runner to advance, when that advance would have been stopped given "ordinary effort." This is a very chancy and subjective statistic for measuring fielding, not in the least that it requires the fielder in question to do something ''right'' (being in position to make an "ordinary effort") in order to do something wrong. Also, the definition of "error" excludes most ''mental'' errors, such as throwing to the wrong base or failing to cover a base.[[note]]Seriously. The official comments on MLB's scoring rules state, "The official scorer shall not score mental mistakes or misjudgments as errors unless a specific rule prescribes otherwise." However, if a player makes a ''physical'' misplay due to a mental error—for example, throwing the ball into the stands in the mistaken belief that the inning is over—the comments call for that to be called as an error.[[/note]]

However, starting in the 1970s, a new generation of amateur stats jockeys, led by ''Baseball Abstract'' publisher Bill James, began to call into question the utility of many of these stats for determining the effectiveness of a team's offense and defense.

Take, for example, batting average. For most of baseball's existence, it has been the prime metric of offensive production, and players like Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, and Ichiro Suzuki have been paid millions upon millions of dollars for their ability to hit for a high average. However, batting average corresponds poorly to a team's total runs scored (total runs scored and total runs allowed correspond ''very well'' with the number of games won in a season- a formula using runs scored and allowed as inputs known as the "Pythagorean Formula of Baseball" tends to give a number very close to the team's actual winning percentage, usually to within 5 games, although not always). High-average hitters are more often than not contact hitters, and since they don't have the power to intimidate pitchers, they draw few pitches and few walks. Meanwhile, the fat power hitter with an eye for good pitches is wearing out pitchers left and right (forcing a team into less-capable relievers earlier), and with all the walks he is drawing, getting on base the same or better as the contact hitter. And, when he is hitting, he's driving extra-base hits and home runs.

Sabermetricians (the name comes from the '''S'''ociety of '''A'''merican '''B'''aseball '''R'''esearch) have dismissed stats like ERA and RBI under similar arguments. For most of their existence, sabermetricians have been ignored by the baseball establishment, settling for mutual contempt. However, in the 1990's, the Oakland A's, under general manager Sandy Alderson, began rebuilding their minor league system along sabermetric lines (particularly a high demand for on-base-percentage). Alderson's replacement, Billy Beane, was able to reform the major league team in the same manner, using sabermetrics to find winning players on the cheap, and with the lowest payroll in all of baseball, was able to regularly produce winning seasons and playoff appearances despite losing all their best stars to free agency, star in a bestselling book, and [[{{Film/Moneyball}} be played by Brad Pitt in a major Hollywood production]]. The A's success did not go unnoticed, and many other teams (particularly the Boston Red Sox), have began similar "Moneyball" tactics, ironically pricing the A's out of the markets they established (being the A's, they went on to establish new ones).

'''Commonly Used Sabermetric Stats:'''

There are literally hundreds, maybe thousands of different stats that sabermetricians have invented over the years, of varying accuracy and utility. Listed here are a few of the ones that are most commonly used that you will likely see mentioned at some point if you pay much attention to sabermetrics. They're all generally agreed to be more useful than most traditional statistics by sabermetricians, but even among them there are plenty of disagreements over which ones are better.

* '''Weighted On-Base Average''' (wOBA): Although OBP, SLG, and OPS are all more useful than Batting Average as a measure of hitter value, they all have problems- OBP assumes all methods of getting on base are equally valuable, SLG assumes the value of extra bases is linear when it's much less than linear (Two singles are worth considerably more than a double and an out, for instance), and OPS assumes SLG and OBP have equal value. Weighted On-Base Average attempts to correct for this by calculating the approximate value of every result of a plate appearance except intentional walks (Walks, Hit by Pitches, Singles, Doubles, Triples, and Home Runs) and setting it on a scale so that the average wOBA is close to the average OBP (generally somewhere in the neighborhood of .320). Because offense levels vary from year to year, the exact calculations for wOBA also vary from year to year.
* '''Runs Created''' (RC): One of the oldest sabermetric statistics, created in the 1980's by Bill James. It basically tries to look at the Run Value of all of the things a player does offensively, and sum them all up to get the total number of Runs Created over a season. It has in recent years largely been replaced by the more accurate Weighted Runs Created (wRC), which was based of of the original Runs Created formula and wOBA.
* '''Defense-Independent Pitching Statistics''' (DIPS): A catch-all term for a number of different statistics that attempt to calculate what a pitcher's ERA would be if they pitched for a league-average defense. Usually looks most closely and Strikeouts, Walks, and Home Runs, the so-called "Three True Outcomes" that are almost entirely in control of the pitcher and hitter- ignoring the receiving abilities of the catcher and the occasional home run robbed by an outfielder, the defense never touches the ball on any of these plays. The most commonly used is probably Fielding-Independent Pitching (FIP), though all have their strengths and weaknesses (One interesting weakness of FIP is that it can actually be ''negative'' over a sufficiently small span of innings, which is completely illogical.)
* '''Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched''' (WHIP): ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin, the total of the walks and hits given up by a pitcher divided by the total number of innings pitched. A sort of inverse to the OBP, it gives a rough estimate of how likely a pitcher is to allow base runners.
* '''Batting Average on Balls In Play''' (BABIP): Both a hitting and pitching statistic, it measures batting average only on balls hit into the field of play- basically, it ignores strikeouts, walks, and home runs. Usually considered to be a good indicator of how "lucky" someone has been, since both hitters and pitchers usually don't have much control over exactly what happens once a ball is put in play. The League Average BABIP is around .290-.300; while some hitters ''can'' sustain a BABIP higher than this through making consistently good contact or being fast enough to get infield singles on balls that would ordinarily be outs, the vast majority of pitchers can't sustain a BABIP very far off the average, so if a pitcher has a BABIP significantly outside the norm, there's a strong chance that it will regress towards the mean. There are some exceptions, though, the most common being pitchers who are really good at getting opposing batters to hit infield pop-ups - the San Francisco Giants' Matt Cain, for instance, consistently maintained a BABIP around .260 for six straight seasons through this skill. Unlike other types of batted balls, where tiny shifts can mean the difference between a hit and an out, infield pop-ups are nearly automatic "free" outs nearly all the time, and sabermetricians consider them to be basically the equivalent of a strikeout.
* '''Wins Above Replacement''' (WAR): A statistic that attempts to capture every single thing a player does- hitting, baserunning, fielding, and pitching- and put it into one statistic. As you might guess from the name, it tells you how many wins that player was worth, relative to a hypothetical "replacement player" who has value roughly equal to that of a player that could be acquired for basically nothing, such as waiver-wire players or the best minor leaguers. Yes, that means (as Website/{{Cracked}} [[http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-ways-nerds-are-turning-jocks-into-ultimate-sports-machines_p2/ put it]]) that means WAR is kind of an asshole statistic, basically telling a player, "This is how much you're worth compared to some schmuck we invented from nowhere--and you'd damn well better be significantly better or else, scientifically speaking, we should fire you." A League-Average WAR is about 2.0. WAR is the most controversial sabermetric statistic; there are multiple competing formulas for how to calculate it, and even among sabermetricians there's no agreement as to whether it's actually possible to distill a player's value into a single stat.

'''[[WMG:Baseball in America]]'''

->''"Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball."''
-->-- '''Jacques Barzun''', ''God's Country and Mine''

Baseball was first dubbed America's "national pastime" or "national game" sometime in the 1850s. And while it has not been the most popular team sport in surveys since TheSixties (having fallen behind UsefulNotes/AmericanFootball), it is still consistently near the top (almost always no. 2, at worst no. 3 behind [[UsefulNotes/{{Basketball}} basketball]]) in those surveys.[[note]]And even then, some baseball people are secretly relishing football's current problems with head injuries, and several commentators' declaration that football is likely to go the way of boxing--i.e. a sport so violent that, while it has a small and devoted fanbase, is no longer nearly as popular as it once was--has piqued baseball's (and basketball's, hockey's, etc.) collective {{Schadenfreude}}.[[/note]] It is also telling that the yearly attendance for Major League Baseball is more than ''every other Major North American Sports League combined'' (although this is partially because baseball has a longer schedule -- starting from late March/early April and usually ending at the end of September for the regular season and the end of October for the World Series -- and its teams play virtually every day). It has also left a imprint on America's culture that has manifested itself in America's [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_language_idioms_derived_from_baseball language]], [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baseball_movie#Baseball entertainment]] and, perhaps most tellingly, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baseball_metaphors_for_sex sexual activities]]. Important historic players such as Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson are often used as metaphor when describing players in sports or countries that Americans are not as familiar with ("The Babe Ruth of Soccer" or the "Jackie Robinson of Japan").

At all levels, the culture of baseball differs from that of other North American sports. For many, going to a baseball game is as much an excuse to have a leisurely day with friends as it is a sporting event. While it doesn't quite go to the extent of cricket in being a picnic with something to watch, the nature of the sport lends itself to being watched only casually by a good portion of the folks in the stands. At the professional level, the only-vaguely-baseball-related ballpark spectacle is almost as much of a draw as the actual game--more of a draw, in fact, when the home team sucks. This is part of the reason that baseball has maintained its popularity--it's an event. Young people go to cheer mindlessly as they get sloshed on usually-overpriced beer,[[note]]Usually, because some minor-league teams, in an effort to make money, sometimes run discounts on drinks that bring the prices back to Earth[[/note]] while families can enjoy some of the odd food items and distractions, and of course diehard fans get to see their team do something interesting every once in a while. In stadiums with lawn seating, picnic baskets are not uncommon at lower levels (especially in the amateur game). In other words, a baseball game generally has a much more relaxed atmosphere than, say, football or basketball (unless the Yankees are playing the Red Sox or the Mets... or just about any team east of the Mississippi).


'''[[WMG:Major League Baseball]]'''
The near-undisputed top professional league in the world is the USA's [[http://mlb.com Major League Baseball]]. With 30 teams (29 in the United States, one in Canada) and players that come from (as of the opening day of the 2009 season) about 16 different countries or territories (sometimes more, sometimes less). Unless you live in Asia or Cuba, this is the level of competition that the average ballplayer is striving for, and it is also known as [[IHaveManyNames MLB, the Major Leagues, the Big Leagues, the Majors, the Bigs, the Show, and sometimes just "Baseball"]].

[[folder:Notable facts about MLB]]
* It is made up of two leagues[[note]]although these days they no longer exist as independent legal and economic entities, and really function more like conferences within the single "league" of MLB[[/note]]: the National League (NL), sometimes called the "Senior Circuit", since it is the older of the two; and the American League (AL), sometimes called the "Junior Circuit". Each league has 15 teams and is divided into 3 divisions. Another notable difference is that the American League uses the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Designated_Hitter Designated Hitter]], while the National League does not. This has led to something of a BrokenBase (no pun intended) as to which league is better or whether the DH, which was introduced in 1973, is good or [[TheyChangedItNowItSucks bad]] for the game.
* The regular season consists of 162 games for each team (although sometimes it's less if a rain-out isn't made up, and every once in a while it is more if a divisional or wild-card tie has occurred at the end of the season).
* The mid-point of the season is usually the [[UltimateShowdownOfUltimateDestiny All-Star Game]][[note]]It usually falls about a week after the season's mathematical halfway point, but for discussion purposes, it's regarded as the easiest place to divide the schedule[[/note]], in which the top players of the two leagues face each other in a game. From 2003 through 2016, the All-Star Game [[BrokenBase controversially]] decided who had the home-field advantage in the World Series, but beginning in 2017 home advantage in the World Series goes to the pennant winner with the better regular-season record.[[note]]The former practice of awarding home-field advantage in the World Series to the ASG winner was implemented after the 2002 game, which ended in a tie after both managers, trying to make sure everybody got to play, ran out of pitchers. It was intended to try to get managers and players to treat the All-Star Game as a serious game rather than just a meaningless exhibition.[[/note]] Another tidbit: The day after the MLB All-Star Game is usually the lightest sporting day of the year, and the only one in which none of America's four major pro sports leagues schedules any game or major event.[[note]]While MLB doesn't have games on the day before or the day after the ASG, it holds its popular Home Run Derby on the night before the ASG.[[/note]] Creator/{{ESPN}} capitalized on this, and now tapes its annual ESPY awards the day after the All-Star game, which, up until 2010, it aired the following Sunday (in 2010, it aired the show live).
* The postseason prior to 2012 involved eight teams, four from each league: the three division champions and a wild card team, the team with the best record of all those who didn't win their division. The three rounds of the playoffs are the Division Series, League Championship Series and the World Series. The Division Series is best of 5, the LCS and WS are best of 7. Many favor expanding the Division Series to a best of 7, but Major League Baseball has resisted the idea due to not wanting to push the season too late into the year (by late October, many top baseball cities are already quite cold weather-wise). In 2012, a second wild card team was added in each league. These teams meet in a one-game playoff to decide who advances to the LDS. This is in addition to the possible 163rd game (see below), though the wild card game is officially part of the postseason, not the regular season.
** Then there is the rarely seen "play-in" or tiebreaker game, sometimes known as a one-game playoff (emphasis singular). This is a 163rd game following the 162-game regular season, and is only played when two or more teams have identical records at the end of the season and a postseason berth is on the line. It is considered a regular season game, and all statistics accumulated during play count in the regular season numbers. The most recent of these games to occur was in 2013, when the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers faced off for a wild-card spot in the AL. Prior to 2012, no playoff was held if both teams qualified for the postseason anyway (that is, if the loser would still be in line for the wild card); the team with the better record in head-to-head competition was considered the division champion while the other was relegated to the wild card. When the postseason expanded in 2012, Major League Baseball decreed that going forward, all ties for a division lead would be settled with a one-game playoff (settling ties between two division-winning teams from different divisions or two wild card teams with a tie-breaker game would be rather silly -- it wouldn't have much of an effect on which teams reached the division series) even if both teams would make the playoffs anyway, with the winner getting the division title and the loser getting a wild card. This was presumably done in the interest of fairness since the wild card team now had to face a one-game sudden death situation instead of automatically gaining a berth in the Division Series anyway.
* In mid-February, about six weeks prior to the start of the season, teams will gather for Spring Training to prepare for the upcoming season by getting back into game shape, practicing with their teammates, and playing exhibition games (games that don't count in the league regular season standings) against other teams training nearby. Due to a combination of tradition and practicality, half the teams (mostly from the eastern half of the country) hold spring training at small ballparks in Florida, nicknamed the Grapefruit League, while the other half train in Arizona, known as the Cactus League. Teams play exhibitions against their respective teams regardless of regular season league alignments, which is much less notable than it was before the introduction of regular season interleague games. The time is used to evaluate and settle on a regular season roster, and decide who has to start the season in the minor leagues. Also notable is that pitchers and catchers will report a few days before other players (as the difficulty of pitching means they need the time to get into shape), leading to (particularly passionate) fans talking about the number of days till pitchers and catchers report as a way to deal with a long slog of winter.
* The village of Cooperstown, New York is home to the [[http://baseballhall.org/ National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum]], established in 1939 to enshrine the history of the game and those who have played it. Each year a handful of retired major leaguers are selected by committee for induction into the Hall, and are thereafter known as "Hall of Famers". Players must have been retired for at least five years before gaining eligibility to join the Hall, though this requirement has been waived once -- Roberto Clemente, who died in a 1972 plane crash, was inducted the next year. This exception became the rule, as the Hall decreed that an otherwise eligible player who dies while active or prior to the five-year cutoff would be eligible six months later. Contrary to popular belief, no formal exception was made for Lou Gehrig except a special one-man election just for him. Under rules of his day, he was eligible for the Hall upon his retirement, and because of his terminal illness (a disease that now bears his name, at least in North America), a special election was held for him in December 1939, about 18 months before his death. Although elected and honored with a plaque in Cooperstown, he never received a formal induction ceremony until 2013.
** Various team executives, managers, and umpires have also been enshrined in the Hall, and there are annual awards for the game's journalists and broadcasters (who are not technically Hall inductees, but are often regarded by the public as such). There is a common belief that comedians Creator/AbbottAndCostello are also Hall members, but they are not; their WhosOnFirst routine is commemorated with an exhibit in the Hall museum, but the comedians themselves have not been inducted.
* Major League Baseball, unlike every other sports league in the United States, enjoys explicit protection from antitrust legislation (granted in what is often believed to be an "oddball" Supreme Court decision, with many calling the antitrust exemption an outright AssPull... and that's not even getting into subsequent Supreme Court decisions basically saying that because Congress didn't pass any law repealing the antitrust exemption that ''didn't actually exist in any law'' [[InsaneTrollLogic that meant they endorsed the exemption and thus it was outside the Court's power to remove it]]). And it's not getting into later SCOTUS decisions which held that antitrust laws applied to ''every other sport''. Thus, team moves (often forced by an antitrust lawsuit) have been much rarer than in the NFL or NBA.
* MLB has no salary cap, and trades are much more open-ended than in other sports. Players may be traded not only for other players, but also cash, or minor league prospects (known as a "player to be named later," this gives the team six months to decide which minor leaguer would be the best fit for their roster). The vagaries of MLB transactions have led to several players being traded for themselves, and one (future Hall of Famer Dave Winfield) being traded for dinner between two [=GMs=] [[note]]Winfield was traded from the Minnesota Twins to the Cleveland Indians, originally for a player to be named later, but since the trade occurred during the 1994-95 baseball strike, the season was cancelled without Winfield ever playing a game for his new team, and the GM's decided the most fair way of settling the trade would be to grab dinner together, with the Indians' GM paying for it[[/note]]. Other bizarre trades from the early days of baseball include a player being traded for a suit of clothes and another being given to a team in exchange for that team paying for the player's previous team to get a new outfield fence at their home stadium.
** Teams are free to make trades of any kind from the end of the previous season to July 31 of the current season. After this ''trade deadline'', a team wishing to trade a player must put him through ''waivers'': a transaction system in which any other team may claim him for a small fee if the team wishes. If a player clears waivers (meaning no team claimed him), he can then be traded[[note]]This system is also used for players who are out of free transfers to minor league teams, aka "options". A player who has no free options left must be waived to be sent to the minors.[[/note]]. The so-called "waiver trade deadline" is August 31, the last day a traded player is eligible for postseason play. Technically, players can still be traded through the waiver system after August 31, but such trades are extremely rare.
* Due to the lack of a salary cap, and the relative open-endedness of MLB ownership, most teams exist in a cycle of contending and rebuilding. A contending team will stock up on free agents in an attempt to make playoff appearances, until they are too far in the hole, their star players age out, or their farm system just runs too dry. At that point, they will begin to sell off their high-valued players for cash and/or prospects, and generally do very poorly while stocking up a new generation of players, hopefully to be supplemented with high quality free agents for another championship run in the future. MLB draft picks once played a principal role in this cycle, but changes in the Player's Agreement in 2013 drastically reduced the role of compensatory picks.
* To prevent teams from "stashing" too many high-level players in the minor leagues that other teams would use in the majors, every year a "Rule 5 Draft" is held that allows teams to select players from other teams that have had a minimum of 4 years service in the minor leagues (5 years if they were signed prior to their 19th birthday) and are not on the 40-man roster. A player selected in this draft costs $50,000, and must remain on the major league roster for the following year or at the end of the season be offered back to his original team for half-price.

[[folder:MLB Awards]]
After the season, a number of different awards are given out to those who excelled in some aspect of the game. The specific awards, which are voted on by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, are as follows.
* The '''Most Valuable Player Award (MVP)''' is given to the player in each league who is considered to have been most valuable to his team. There are no restrictions on who can be named Most Valuable Player, but it almost always goes to a player from a team who made the playoffs or came very close. Pitchers are eligible for the award, but seldom win it; many baseball writers believe pitchers shouldn't win it because they have their own award, while others simply don't feel that a single pitcher can ever be as valuable as someone who plays every day. Justin Verlander's AL MVP win in 2011 was the first time a pitcher won that award since Dennis Eckersley in 1992, and the first win by a starting pitcher since Roger Clemens in 1986. More recently, pitcher Clayton Kershaw won the NL MVP in 2014.
** ''Most Recent Winners:'' Mike Trout, CF, Angels (AL); Kris Bryant, IF/OF, Cubs (NL)
* The '''Cy Young Award''' is given to each league's best pitcher. It is named for the pitcher with the most career wins of all time. (He also has the most career losses of all time, but he played in an era where pitchers pitched every day.) Starting pitchers and relief pitchers are both eligible, but the award almost always goes to a starter. The last reliever to win the Cy Young is Éric Gagné of the Dodgers in 2003; the last AL reliever to win is Dennis Eckersley of the Oakland Athletics in 1992. Yes, it was the same year he won the MVP. Yes, he was ''that'' good.
** ''Most Recent Winners:'' Rick Porcello, Red Sox (AL); Max Scherzer, Nationals (NL)
* The '''Rookie of the Year Award''' is given to the rookie in each league who is considered to have had the best season. Though a rookie is generally defined as a first-year player, he doesn't necessarily have to be. As long as the player enters the current season without having exceeded 130 Major League at-bats, 50 innings pitched, or 45 days spent on a Major League team's roster, he is considered to be in his rookie season. Experience in leagues besides the MLB is not counted against a player, which has caused some controversy since beginning with Hideo Nomo in 1995, several Japanese-born players won the award despite having prior professional experience in Japanese baseball. It was renamed the Jackie Robinson Award in [[TheEighties the eighties]] to commemorate one of its most famous winners. Robinson was also the first recipient of the award. The official name is rarely used, however.
** ''Most Recent Winners:'' Michael Fulmer, RHP, Tigers (AL); Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers (NL)
* The '''Manager of the Year Award''' is awarded to one manager in each league. There are no specific guidelines for who can win, but the award typically goes to the manager of a team who achieved surprising success, usually a team that was expected to finish low in the standings but ended up competing for a title.
** ''Most Recent Winners:'' Terry Francona, Indians (AL); Dave Roberts, Dodgers (NL)
* The '''Gold Glove Award''' goes to the top defensive players in the game. Unlike the above awards, they are voted on by the managers and coaches in each league as opposed to the baseball writers. Each league awards nine Gold Gloves, one at each fielding position. Since fielding excellence tends to be measured by a lot of intangibles rather than pure statistics, the Gold Gloves frequently spark debate; the most common criticism of the award process is that they are often awarded based on reputation, without regard as to whether the player truly had a better year in the field than his peers. Derek Jeter was one of the more prominent examples of an undeserving Gold Glove winner; though he had a reputation as a great defensive shortstop, advanced fielding statistics generally didn't back up his reputation and few sabermetricians would have considered him remotely Gold Glove worthy (and, during the years when he was teammates with Alex Rodriguez- a legitimately good defensive shortstop before he moved to third base- they would be known to snark that Jeter wasn't even the best shortstop on ''his own team'', let alone the entire American League). Another particularly egregious example was Rafael Palmeiro winning the AL Gold Glove at first base in 1999, despite the fact that he was primarily a designated hitter that year and only played 28 games in the field. More recently, the process has been adjusted for these awards with a sizable portion of the vote now coming from taking several advanced fielding metrics into account, which has started to improve things a bit, though average or even poor defenders still win a Gold Glove from time to time.
* The '''Silver Slugger Award''' goes to the top offensive player at each position. Like the Gold Gloves, they are voted on by each league's managers and coaches rather than the baseball writers. Silver Slugger awards are slightly different from Gold Glove awards; due to the American League's use of the designated hitter, the award for AL pitchers (who do not hit) is replaced with one for designated hitters.
* The '''Roberto Clemente Award''' is MLB's "Man of the Year" award, given to one player who best represents the game on and off the field, emphasizing community involvement. Named after the Pirates Hall of Fame right fielder who died in a plane crash while attempting to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
** ''Most Recent Winner:'' Curtis Granderson, OF, Mets

[[folder:Historical people to know in MLB]]
->"It is a haunted game, where each player is measured by the ghosts of those who have gone before."
-->-- KenBurns' ''Baseball''
* '''Creator/BabeRuth'''[[note]]"Babe" was a nickname, because of the baby fat he carried in his face. His real name was George Herman Ruth Jr.[[/note]] was, for many years, recognized as the greatest player ever, and probably the most influential player ever. If you've only heard of one ballplayer, it's probably him. He was originally a pitcher, and awesome, but changed position when management determined he was even more awesome as an everyday position player--and absolutely ''glorious'' as a hitter. He basically invented the modern concept of power hitting, and was more or less the prototypical "fat power hitter" of the kind that populates today's outfields and first bases (he was even left-handed). He hit lots of home runs at a time when everybody else hit hardly any, which prompted baseball leaders to change the ball and thus lower the DifficultyLevels of hitting, leading largely to today's game. Was sold to the NY Yankees by the Boston Red Sox, which supposedly cursed the Sox to not win a World Series ever again (or at least until 2004). His records have since mostly been broken (but as any hardcore fan will point out, while Ruth's records have been broken by a collection of men, you must remember that they were all set by ''one''). A great BoisterousBruiser, he loved eating,[[note]]He was famous for eating a dozen hot dogs at a single sitting[[/note]] drinking,[[note]]Early in his career, he had a whiskey and ginger ale at ''breakfast''--and this was ''during'' Prohibition[[/note]] womanizing,[[note]]He had several mistresses, girlfriends, and flings, not to mention being a much-liked customer at whorehouses across the country[[/note]] and general carousing, and he is subject of numerous tall tales about his sex and alcohol-related experiences; he was nevertheless noted for being a fundamentally decent, fun-loving guy who was [[FriendToAllChildren good with kids]]. Was rumored to be partially black, which back in his day was a pretty big deal. He was once given a rather enormous contract which let him earn more than the President, in an era when people didn't think that was a good thing. His response: "[[BadAssBoast I had a]] [[CrowningMomentOfFunny better year than he did]]." [[note]]The President at the time was UsefulNotes/HerbertHoover and the year was 1929, so Ruth's statement was probably accurate.[[/note]]
* '''UsefulNotes/JackieRobinson''' was an African-American who played in 1947 for the Dodgers after African-Americans had been informally banned from the major leagues for 60 years. After this, the other major league teams slowly integrated. So naturally, he's a pretty big deal, especially since he was an excellent player throughout his 10-year career. His number, 42, was retired across Major League Baseball in 1997, the only player to receive that honor, with two exceptions: First, players who wore 42 at the time were allowed to keep wearing it (Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who retired at the end of the 2013 season, was the last player to wear it),[[note]]Rivera, by the by, is considered to have been a fitting man to wear the number last, as a dark-skinned Panamanian who has devoted himself to many good causes, including better integration of Hispanic players into the league. Jackie's widow Rachel, now in her nineties, strongly approved of Rivera being the last player to wear her husband's number.[[/note]] and second, every player in the game wears it on April 15, the anniversary of Robinson's Major League debut. The number has become associated with Robinson so much that [[Film/FortyTwo a movie about his life]] simply had the number ''42'' as its title. Contrary to what some might say, Robinson did ''not'' refuse to leave Brooklyn when the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. By the end of his career, he had begun to show symptoms of diabetes (and would be diagnosed with the disease mere months after his retirement), and had already planned to retire (to become an executive at the Chock full o'Nuts coffee company) before the rumors that the Dodgers would move came out.[[note]]Robinson was actually ''from'' Southern California, having been raised in Pasadena and attended UCLA before World War II; had he stayed with the Dodgers, he would've probably appreciated the move.[[/note]]
* '''"Shoeless" Joe Jackson''' was a really good player for the White Sox until he got accused of helping out some gamblers during the 1919 World Series (the infamous "Black Sox" scandal). He was not one of the major figures in the scandal (he played exceptionally well in the game his teammates intentionally lost), but he was still banned for knowing about the incident and not reporting it (and taking the bribe money like his teammates), and was easily the most popular player to be banned. The phrase "Say it ain't so, Joe" is a reference to this incident, and occasionally comes up in Vice-Presidential debates [[UsefulNotes/JoeBiden every now and then]].
* '''Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis''' was the first commissioner of baseball, brought in by the club owners in 1920 in the wake of the "Black Sox" scandal to help clean up the image of the game. A federal judge [[note]]He didn't officially resign from the bench until 1922[[/note]], Landis was the one who banished "Shoeless" Joe Jackson and the other "Black Sox" from baseball for life. He cracked down on gambling (banishing 18 players over his tenure), helped lay out the rules for how major league teams could work with minor league ones, and was a proponent of the All-Star Game. But he was also responsible for enforcing the rigid "color line" that kept African-American players out of the leagues, even maneuvering to prevent the sale of the Philadelphia Phillies to Bill Veeck in 1942 when Veeck made it known he would sign several Negro League stars.
* '''Happy Chandler'''[[note]]given name Albert[[/note]] succeeded Landis as commissioner. A Kentucky politico[[note]](he served as the state's governor and a U.S. Senator before becoming commissioner, and won a second term as governor after leaving MLB)[[/note]] best known for approving Jackie Robinson's contract with the Dodgers, having made it clear that he would support integration even it cost him his job. He also established MLB's first pension fund.
* '''Hank Aaron''' broke Babe Ruth's career home run record. Being African-American, he quite naturally had to deal with a little bit of intolerance as he approached the record. However, Aaron holds many records such as Total Bases earned, a record he is particularly proud of since he considers it more indicative of how much he contributed for his team. He also holds the career record for runs batted in with 2,297, and had 3,771 total hits. (Anyone who gets close to 3,000 is considered a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.) Aaron was a model of consistency; he never hit 50 homers in a season, but he hit 40 or more eight times, 30 or more 15 times, and had a streak of 19 straight years in which he hit at least 24 homers. He is one of the leading candidates for the title of best baseball player ever.
* '''Willie Mays''', another name frequently cited as the best baseball player ever (even by other great players; Joe [=DiMaggio=] once claimed that although there was no such thing as a perfect ballplayer, Mays was the closest thing to it; and Mickey Mantle consistently maintained that Mays had the better career), was a center fielder who spent the majority of his career with the New York/San Francisco Giants. Mays excelled in all aspects of the game, including hitting for both power and average, and possessing great running speed and incredible defensive skills. He had 660 career home runs, fifth all-time behind Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, and Alex Rodriguez. Coincidentally, Mays is also Barry Bonds' godfather. Mays' most famous moment on the diamond was probably the incredible over-the-shoulder running catch he made in the 1954 World Series, a moment often cited as the single greatest defensive play in baseball history.
* '''Mickey Mantle''' The other name along with Willie Mays that most often comes up in greatest ever debates. An incredible power hitter with lumberjack-like arms, Mantle was also once considered the fastest man in the sport, and one of its greatest fielders. He hit the longest documented home run in baseball history, which became the first homer to be known as a 'tape-measure' home run due to a team official (allegedly) using a tape measure to record its distance. Baseball historians agree that he almost certainly would have broken the career home run record had injuries not hampered him for a large part of his career; the bones of his particularly injury-prone left leg had been weakened by a case of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osteomyelitis osteomyelitis]] contracted playing football in his youth, and late in his rookie season, he suffered a serious injury to his right knee that was most likely a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anterior_cruciate_ligament_injury torn ACL]] (which couldn't have been repaired in his day). It should be noted that with all of his achievements, the first line on his Monument Park plaque reads "A great teammate", which Mantle was far more proud of than any other accomplishment. He was one of the most beloved of all Yankee greats, and one of the few Yankees to be well-liked by fans of other teams.
* '''Ty Cobb''' was a superlative player in the early part of the 20th century, leading the American League in batting average twelve times. He held the all-time record for most career base hits until it was broken by Pete Rose, held the record for career stolen bases until it was broken by Lou Brock (and subsequently again by Rickey Henderson), and had a career batting average of .366, a record that still stands today. He was also a massive {{jerkass}}. It was said he sharpened his spikes to injure opposing fielders. He once jumped into the stands to beat up a heckler who had no hands. Upon being told that the man had no hands, Cobb is reported to have said "I don't care if he has no feet!" And, most regrettably, he was a raging racist, even by the standards of the time. Despite this, had his own brand of CrazyAwesome, and his legacy has recently been subject to reappraisal and accusations of HistoricalVillainUpgrade from his biographers (in particular, his racism tempered considerably, to the point where he was an early endorser of integrated baseball); there's also been a lot of psychological analysis of his douchebaggery, some of which appears to have been [[FreudianExcuse the result of his father constantly hounding him for]] [[WellDoneSonGuy not being good enough]], and part of which seems to be deep-seated anger issues that we would probably consider mental health problems today.
* '''Honus Wagner''', a Pennsylvania coal miner who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates around the turn of the 20th century, is widely considered the greatest shortstop ever. He played every position except catcher, only settling in at shortstop after seven years in the league. He even got to nail Ty Cobb in the mouth but good when that racist bully called him a "Krauthead" and threatened to spike him at his base when the two of them played in the 1909 World Series (Wagner's Pirates beat Cobb's Tigers 4 games to 3). That Cobb and Wagner would be at odds is altogether fitting, as Wagner was the anti-Cobb--the calm, polite, kind GentleGiant to Cobb's twitchy, angry, tortured, LeanAndMean machine. He's also known as the face on [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T206_Honus_Wagner the most valuable baseball card ever]]. It was originally printed in 1909 and packaged with loose tobacco. Wagner, being strongly anti-tobacco, refused to allow production of this card to continue; over time, its rarity made it something of a ZillionDollarBill. Recent sales have ranged from $200,000 to over $2,000,000 depending on the card's condition and backstory (for example, one card was briefly owned by [[UsefulNotes/NationalHockeyLeague hockey]] legend UsefulNotes/WayneGretzky, and another by actor Creator/CharlieSheen.)
* '''Christy Mathewson''' was another Pennsylvania working-class boy of the same era who achieved great fame, although in his case it was as a pitcher with the New York Giants. Mathewson was, like Wagner, a very kind and polite man off the field, noted for his devoutness (he refused to play on Sundays[[note]]Mathewson's decision had much less of an impact on the Giants than a modern observer would think. During his career, only three teams in the then eight-team National League—the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds (for whom he played the final three seasons of his career), and St. Louis Cardinals—played home games in states that allowed Sunday baseball, and as a pitcher, he would of course not have been expected to play in every game, or even most games; it just meant that the pitching schedule would have to work around Mathewson.[[/note]] and one of his nicknames was "the Christian Gentleman"). ''On'' the field, he was a devastating pitcher, and the first major leaguer to use what is now called the "screwball"--a breaking pitch that breaks the ''opposite'' of the pitcher's other breaking pitches (Mathewson himself called it a "fadeaway;" legend has it that he learned it from the Black pitcher Rube Foster, who also called it that). He was one of the first wholesome "all-American" baseball stars, and his appearance in baseball in 1900 was one of several around that time convincing Americans that baseball was no longer the sport of ruffians it had been in the 1890s. Mathewson's pitching carried the Giants to many wins for nearly 20 years, but in UsefulNotes/WorldWarI he joined the military, where he was a captain in the Chemical Warfare Service (serving, incidentally, alongside Ty Cobb)--and was exposed to poison gas in a training accident. Mathewson had to quit baseball, and although he tried to make himself useful where he could (he served on the team that investigated the 1919 "Black Sox" scandal), the gas got the better of him in the end; his weakened respiratory system was vulnerable to tuberculosis, and he caught the disease, dying of it in 1925. Eleven years later, he was one of the first five men to be inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and the only one of the five inducted posthumously.
* '''Joe [=DiMaggio=]''' was a graceful centerfielder and one of the greatest hitters in baseball history, having recorded at least one hit in 56 consecutive games (bearing in mind that hitters who succeed 33% of the time are phenomenal). He was nicknamed "Joltin' Joe" and also "The Yankee Clipper" (he spent his entire career with the NY Yankees). No one has come close to his record in 60 years; when a hitter reaches about 30 consecutive games he begins to get serious media attention. Also extremely famous for marrying Creator/MarilynMonroe and having a nation turn its lonely eyes to him in a Music/SimonAndGarfunkel song. And, later, for endorsing Mr. Coffee.
* '''Cal Ripken Jr.''' was an excellent shortstop and two-time Most Valuable Player who became famous for never missing a game for over 17 years (a whopping 2,632 games in a row), and this consecutive-game streak is one of baseball's "records to know", up there with Bonds' home run records and [=DiMaggio's=] hit streak. Furthermore, he started every single game during the streak, hardly ever left a game early, and for over five years, he played ''every single inning''. He also played his entire career with one team (the Baltimore Orioles), which is seen as somewhat rare. A lot of people tend to forget that he had Hall-of-Fame numbers even without the consecutive game streak—in addition to his two MVP awards, he also has over 3000 hits and has the third-most home runs of any Shortstop in history, behind Alex Rodriguez and Ernie Banks (and Ripken stayed as a shortstop for a much bigger chunk of his career than those two did—Ripken moved to third in his last few years, but A-Rod and Banks moved to third and first respectively about halfway through their careers). Early in his career, some doubted that a player as large as Ripken was could stick at shortstop, but he proved them all wrong, playing great defense for most of his career and winning two gold gloves- and modern sabermetric analysis rates him as being one of the best defensive shortstops in the game's history. Made 19 consecutive all-star teams, between his third season in 1983 and final season in 2001, although his last few selections were a bit questionable and more because of how hugely popular and respected he was than how he was playing on the field. In his last all-star game in 2001, he was elected to start as a third baseman (the position he'd played for several years at that point), but Alex Rodriguez, the starting shortstop in that game, swapped positions with him at the start of the game to give him one last hurrah at short. He went on to hit a home run in the game (on a pitch that many allege was grooved by the opposing pitcher, Chan-Ho Park) and win the All-Star MVP Award. Some naysayers think that him keeping his streak alive when he was past his prime was to the detriment of his team.
* '''Lou Gehrig''' - The "Iron Horse" played for the NY Yankees at around the same time as Babe Ruth, giving the Bronx Bombers two of the best hitters in the game's history for ten years. Was the consecutive-game record holder before Ripken. His streak ended because of a rare disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is now also known (in North America) as, wait for it, Lou Gehrig's disease. Before his retirement he gave a famous speech at Yankee Stadium which is generally considered a CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming[=/=]TearJerker for baseball. Less well known is that no complete recording of the speech exists, only the newsreel highlights of it. Probably the most universally beloved baseball player in the history of the game[[note]]with the exception of Stan "The Man" Musial[[/note]]; despite his team affiliation, to this day not even a member of the Red Sox Nation will say anything against him.
* '''Nolan Ryan''', aka "The Ryan Express", was a pitcher who played for four different teams. One of the first pitchers to be documented throwing at 100 miles an hour, he first became famous for putting up ridiculous strikeout numbers and later became famous for having been around forever, as he played for a record 27 seasons. He holds numerous pitching records (most famously, strikeouts in a career, strikeouts in a season, no-hit games in a career) that are widely considered to be in "will never be broken" territory, as well as others (bases on balls, hit batters, wild pitches) that [[MedalOfDishonor he probably wishes would be broken]]. Needless to say, had some control problems, and is often regarded by detractors as a flashy .500 pitcher. He is also famous for beating up Robin Ventura, when the latter charged the mound. (Ryan was [[BadassGrandpa age 46]] at the time.) He became president of the Texas Rangers in 2008 and part-owner in 2010; he committed himself to making the team a contender, and did a pretty good job of it[[note]]The Rangers were American League Champions in 2010 and 2011 and won at least 90 games every year from 2010 to 2013[[/note]]. He had something of a falling out with other members of the Rangers' leadership in 2013 and sold his stake in the team, jumping ship to the Astros; the Rangers ended up completely collapsing on account of a ridiculous number of injuries in his absence.
* '''Cy Young''' was a pitcher in the late 19th and early 20th centuries who was so awesome, baseball eventually named their top award for pitchers after him. Holds the record for career wins with 511, which is literally in "will never be broken" territory due to differences in the way baseball is played today (Young pitched every third or fourth game or so, which would be unacceptable to today's players)[[note]]Additionally, in Young's heyday of the Dead Ball Era, 20+ wins per season were ''expected'' of good starting pitchers. Today, with 5-day rotations and heavy bullpen usage, it's an anomaly, and a pitcher would have to average 20 wins a year ''for 25 years straight'' to get within reach of the record.[[/note]]
* '''Bob Feller''' was a pitcher who spent his entire career with the Cleveland Indians, interrupted by a three-year stint in the Navy during World War II. He burst onto the national scene as a 17-year-old in 1936, making it to the Indians without ever playing a game in the minors, striking out 15 in his very first start, and a then-record-tying 17 later that season, making him the first pitcher to strike out a number of batters equal to his age in a major league game, a feat which was equaled in 1998 when a 20-year-old Kerry Wood struck out 20 batters. The next season, he made the cover of ''Time'' magazine, and his high school graduation in Iowa (he was able to attend because he was recovering from an injury) was nationally broadcast on radio. In 1938, he set what was then a single-game record with 18 strikeouts, and went on to throw three no-hitters (a record until Sandy Koufax and later Nolan Ryan came along) and 12 one-hitters (still a record, now shared with Ryan) and win 266 games (he would likely have won 300 if not for the war). Probably the hardest thrower of his day, and possibly measuring up with later flamethrowers such as Ryan and Aroldis Chapman. After his playing career, he became the first president of the players' union.
* '''Roger Maris''' was a relatively obscure player who was good for a few years and who most everybody today would have forgotten about, if not for this one season where he got really lucky and broke Babe Ruth's single-season home run record, which stood for 37 years. [[note]]That record was the UrExample of baseball's "asterisk", as Commissioner Ford Frick ordered that Ruth's record remain in the books, as he had achieved the record with eight fewer games on the schedule. Although at the time the League (and thus the Commissioner) had no actual authority over baseball recordkeeping, sportswriters tended to comply with his "asterisk".[[/note]]
* '''Mark [=McGwire=]''' was the holder of the single-season home run record after Maris. He was scary dangerous as a rookie, was one half of the "Bash Brothers" on Oakland's feared late-'80s teams, then got hurt a lot for a while. After this, he resurfaced in St. Louis where he broke the record. Almost immediately afterward, it was uncovered that he had used androstenedione, a legal but all-too-steroid-like performance-enhancing substance, an event which is generally considered the climax of the "Steroid Era". For years his reputation was ruined, but he slowly became an accepted member of the St. Louis sports community again after becoming the Cardinals' hitting coach. Now the bench coach for the Padres.
* '''Jose Canseco''' was the other half of the aforementioned "Bash Brothers" who was for a while one of baseball's most notorious, and disliked figures. After his career, he wrote a book called ''Juiced'' where he not only admitted that he used steroids during his career, but also "outed" a number of prominent players as steroid users. However, sportswriters and baseball experts regard him as a shameless scandal-monger who merely lobbied blind accusations at players who he suspected might have been "juicing" and by chance happened to be right about a few. (Mark [=McGwire=], for instance, admits to using steroids, but flatly denies Canseco's account of events.) During Canseco's career, he was known for his speed and power; in 1988, the year he won the MVP award, he became the first player to both hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in the same season (Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Alfonso Soriano have since accomplished the same feat). On the other hand, he was commonly lampooned for his defense; he once had a ball bounce off his head for a home run, a mainstay of "blooper" reels.
** In recent years, he has occasionally made headlines for various other reasons, most notably for a few reality show appearances and for accidentally shooting off one of his fingers while cleaning a gun. He wrote a second book, ''Vindicated'', but a third book that he'd teased would reveal a "juicer" ''already in the Hall of Fame'' [[VaporWare does not seem to have materialized]].
* '''Sammy Sosa''' was the right fielder for the Chicago Cubs for most of the 90's and early 00's. He was a pretty good player at the start of his career, excelling at most aspects of the game, but then in 1998, he suddenly went from good to otherworldly, becoming one of the best home run hitters in a time filled with them. He and Mark [=McGwire=] both chased Maris's home run record that year, and both ultimately broke it, but [=McGwire=] broke it first and broke it by more, hitting 70 home runs to Sosa's 66, although Sammy did set a record for the most home runs in a single month with 20 in June. Sosa remained among the best power hitters in the game for the next few years, hitting 292 home runs from 1998 to 2002 (by quite a bit, the highest number in the major leagues over that period) including 3 60-home run seasons (making him the only player in history to accomplish that feat 3 times). His stats declined and his reputation started to sour a bit after that, though- in 2003, he was suspended for using a corked bat, and like most other power hitters of the time, he was long the subject of steroid rumors for his enormous physique and incredible number of home runs. His comments at a congressional hearing in 2005 asking him about steroid use certainly didn't help his cause (he claimed he didn't speak English in response to a question, which, given that he'd spoken it fairly regularly to teammates and reporters over his career, clearly wasn't the case). After he retired, he was reported to have been on a list of players testing positive for [=PEDs=] in 2003, and so in spite his impressive career and his being one of only nine players to hit 600 home runs, he's been unable to get much support for induction to the Hall of Fame.
* '''Jim Bouton''' is mostly an obscure pitcher who had a couple of good years for the Yankees. He is famous, however, for writing the 1970 book ''Ball Four'', which was a controversial "tell-all" book about the [[HookersAndBlow "behind the scenes"]] life of the sport while he was playing for the Seattle Pilots for their only season in existence[[note]] the next season they moved to Milwaukee and became the Brewers[[/note]]. Was blacklisted for this, and the commissioner at the time tried to get him to disown the book. He was also the co-creator of Big League Chew bubble gum, with fellow ballplayer Rob Nelson.
* '''Pete Rose''' broke Ty Cobb's career hits record, and somewhat coincidentally, is about as well-liked as Cobb was. (He's still revered in Cincinnati, which is also his hometown, but you'd be hard pressed to find anyone from another city who likes him.) He gambled on baseball (as a player and manager), which caused him to be banned from the sport and made ineligible for the baseball Hall of Fame when he would have been elected easily for his achievements. He was proven to bet on his own team, though he swears to this day that he always bet on them to win. Since the original ban on gambling was made to prevent players from intentionally losing games, whether or not Pete Rose's ban is a fair judgment remains one of baseball's open debates. (Before [=PEDs=] came along, gambling was considered the single biggest scourge of the sporting world. Going back to the Black Sox scandal, betting on baseball in any way is prohibited, with a lifetime ban for betting on games you have a role in, so it's academic if your name isn't Bill James.) While Cobb sharpened his spikes, Rose is well known for once running over opposing catcher Ray Fosse in a run into home plate, separating the catcher's shoulder. This would have been acceptable play had it not happened in the All-Star Game, which at the time was a meaningless exhibition. (While the incident did not end Fosse's career as is often reported - he stayed in the lineup during the second half of the season, and played eight more seasons, three as a starter and one as an All-Star - he was never again as good as he was prior to the injury.)
** Rose's reputation wasn't helped by his litigiousness: when the Commissioner (see immediately below) started an investigation against him for his gambling, he filed suit in Ohio state court against the Commissioner, the Reds, and MLB asking the court to stop the Commissioner's investigation. The case is famous for all kinds of amazing dick moves on Rose's part (well, technically his lawyers', but frankly they're such fantastic dick moves that it's hard not to see how he wasn't involved in the decision to make them), and as a result, Civil Procedure law casebooks often include his case in the introduction to show wet-behind-the-ears first-year law students how bizarre their profession can get...and reinforce baseball's universal agreement that Pete Rose is an ''asshole''.
* '''Bart Giamatti'''[[note]]if you're not a baseball fan but the name still sounds vaguely familiar, he's the father of actors Creator/{{Paul|Giamatti}} and Marcus Giamatti[[/note]] was the commissioner who brought Rose down. An English professor at [[UsefulNotes/IvyLeague Yale University]] who went on to become the school's president, he had long been a die-hard baseball fan. When he was first rumored to be a candidate for the Yale presidency, he said, "The only thing I ever wanted to be president of was the American League." After leaving Yale, he instead became president of the ''National League'', where he focused on improving the fan experience and pushing for teams to hire more minorities in key roles. Giamatti became commissioner in April 1989, in the midst of the Rose affair.[[note]]The gambling investigation wasn't Giamatti's first dealings with Rose. As NL president in 1988, he suspended Rose for 30 days for shoving an umpire.[[/note]] He wound up getting enough on Rose to ban him from the game for life. Only five months after becoming commissioner and eight days after banning Rose, Giamatti died of a massive heart attack at his vacation home on Martha's Vineyard.
* '''Satchel Paige''' is widely considered one of the greatest pitchers ever. Unfortunately, he was also black, which meant he couldn't play in the Majors until 1948, when he was in his 40s ([[VagueAge probably]]). He was still pretty good at this age, though, considering his team was the first integrated team to win the World Series. Was coaxed out of retirement to pitch one game at 59 (not a misprint), went three scoreless innings in a CrowningMomentOfAwesome. One of the two biggest stars of the Negro Leagues, Paige was known for being extremely cocky, though he almost never failed to back it up. On barnstorming tours, he would have his infielders sit down behind him and then he would strike out the side. Supposedly, Paige once intentionally walked the bases loaded in a playoff game (records of Negro League games are somewhat sketchy) just to set up a confrontation with the other big star of the Negro Leagues, slugger Josh Gibson, and responded by striking Gibson out to clinch the championship. He expressed resentment at the time that Jackie Robinson was the one chosen to break the Majors' color line and not himself, though he later conceded that Robinson was probably the right choice. Well-known for pithy sayings, the most famous being "Don't look back, something might be gaining on you."
* '''Josh Gibson''', speaking of whom, he was another one of the greatest players ever who, on account of being black, couldn't play in the Majors for the prime of his career, and unlike Paige, he never got the chance to play at all, since he died of a stroke a few months before the 1947 season. A catcher, his prodigious power led to him being called "The Black Babe Ruth"--although some said (and Ruth himself is reported to have been willing to admit) that Ruth should have been called "the White Josh Gibson." Like Babe Ruth, he hit a huge number of home runs- it's hard to say exactly how many because of the sketchiness of Negro Leagues records and the large number of unofficial games Negro League teams tended to play, but some sources credit him with as many as ''800,'' which would be more than any Major League player ever hit. He was the subject of numerous tall tales about his power, the most famous being that he once hit a home run in Pittsburgh that came down in another city the following day, in another ballpark, in a game that Gibson was playing against the same team. It was caught by an outfielder, leading the umpire to exclaim, "You're out, yesterday in Pittsburgh!"
* '''Ted Williams''' is one of the best hitters in history, and was the last person to have a batting average (hits divided by at-bats) of over .400 in a season, batting .406 in 1941. (No player since 2000 has hit over .372.) Well loved in Boston (where he played) and San Diego (where he was from), and there are highways named for him in both cities. After he died in 2002, he received a lot of media attention over the bizarre battle that took place within his surviving family; his son and daughter claimed that the three of them were to be cryogenically frozen together. At Fenway Park, there is a single seat in the right field bleachers painted red to mark the landing spot of one of his home runs, the longest in the park's history. The home run ball actually hit the guy sitting in the seat while he was taking a nap, and broke his straw hat. [[RidingIntoTheSunSet Hit a homerun in the last at-bat of his career.]] Oh yeah, and he had his incredible career while serving his country ''twice'' (WWII & Korea) as a ''combat pilot'' in the ''[[SemperFi United States goddamn Marines]]''. He was somewhat of an ArrogantKungFuGuy with an almost unhealthy focus on just being the best hitter in history (Mickey Mantle had a story of trying to have an ordinary conversation with Williams, but Williams was only interested in talking about hitting styles), and had a reputation of seemingly not appreciating the fans (he held a serious grudge against them and the local media for booing him and saying less than pleasant things early in his career). He did get over it though, with a truly heart warming moment at the 1999 All-Star game where he tipped his cap to the Fenway crowd, an act he had refused to do almost his entire playing career. In his Hall of Fame induction speech he called for Negro League greats to be inducted into the Hall, regardless of whether they had met the "10 years in the majors" rule since many failed that standard solely because Major League Baseball had been segregated.
* '''Yogi Berra'''[[note]]"Yogi" was a nickname he earned because he sat with arms and legs crossed while waiting to bat. His real name was Lawrence Peter Berra[[/note]] was the catcher on the great Yankees teams of the late '40s through early '60s, with his 10 World Series rings being the most out of any player in history. Despite being one of history's greatest catchers both defensively and offensively (for one thing, he was an excellent "bad-ball hitter" who could hammer even pitches thrown well out of the zone, making him notoriously difficult to strike out), he is mostly known today as one of the funniest {{Cloudcuckoolander}}s ever. He was once complimented by a female reporter: "You look cool out there, Yogi." "Thanks, you don't look so hot yourself!" He said of a restaurant in his native St. Louis, "Nobody goes to that place anymore. It's too crowded." There are many other examples; of course, he ''also'' said "[[BeamMeUpScotty I didn't really say everything I said]]." Yogi also enjoyed some success as a manager, leading the 1964 Yankees and 1973 Mets to the World Series (though both teams lost). Though it may seem obvious that WesternAnimation/YogiBear was named after him, Creator/HannaBarbera [[ImplausibleDeniability always maintained the notion that this was coincidental]]. Passed away on September 22, 2015 at the age of 90.
* '''Roger Clemens''' pioneered the modern concept of the "power pitcher" with the Red Sox in the 1980s. Nicknamed "The Rocket", Clemens threw harder than almost anyone else at the time, and had a dominant, macho personality that intimidated hitters and made him almost synonymous with Boston at the time. Clemens set a then-record in 1986 by striking out 20 batters in one game and very nearly won Boston the infamous "Game Six" of the World Series that year. Clemens has won a total of seven Cy Young awards in his career, a record for any pitcher. Unfortunately, his personality translated into a long, long, ''long'' record of {{Jerkass}} behavior over the years that tarnished the public's perception of his career more and more. Split acrimoniously from the Red Sox in 1996 (but not before tying his own single-game strikeout record--which still stands, though it's been tied twice more since) and went on to play for the Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros, winning two World Series with the Yankees. Opinions vary of the man, but these days he is almost universally despised in Boston. Although acquitted of charges of lying under oath to Congress about using illegal performance enhancing drugs, he is still widely believed to have used them.
* '''Dock Ellis''', most famously of the Pittsburgh Pirates, is well known for two things: firstly, a number of incidents of deliberately hitting opposing players with balls; and secondly, a June 12, 1970 game, when Ellis pitched a no-hitter while [[RefugeInAudacity tripping balls on LSD]]--by his own admission, he could only occasionally see the catcher,[[note]]He said the catcher wore reflective tape on his fingers so he could see the signals[[/note]] the ball varied wildly in size, the ball also ''talked to him'', and at one point he got in his head the idea that [[CrazyAwesome Richard Nixon was the home umpire and that he was pitching to Jimi Hendrix, who was swinging a guitar like it was a baseball bat]].
* '''Harry Caray''', pretty much regarded as one of the most colorful {{Large Ham Announcer}}s of all time. He's best remembered for broadcasting Chicago Cubs games in the 1980s and '90s, although the first and longest part of his career was spent with the St. Louis Cardinals and he worked for the Oakland A's and Chicago White Sox at various points too. Caray, who brought a boisterous, fanlike enthusiasm into the booth with him, is highly quotable to this day, with his frequent calls of "Holy Cow!" and "It might be...it could be...It is! A home run!" Apparently his talent was InTheBlood, as shown by both his son (Braves broadcaster Skip Caray, now also deceased) and his grandsons (Cubs/Braves broadcaster Chip Caray and AAA Braves broadcaster Josh Caray). Younger fans may be most familiar with him from Creator/WillFerrell's impressions of him on ''Series/SaturdayNightLive''.
* '''Mel Allen''' was another well-known broadcaster, who served as the voice of the New York Yankees from 1939 to 1964, a period that coincided with what was arguably the team's golden age: during Allen's years behind the mike, the Yankees won 19 American League pennants and 13 World Series championships, and fielded such legendary players as Joe [=DiMaggio=], Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Phil Rizzuto (who himself became a popular and long-tenured broadcaster for the team after retiring as a player). Allen also called numerous World Series and All-Star Games on radio and television, and served as a narrator for Fox Movietone newsreels, making him (and his catchphrase, "How about that!") well-known to sports fans throughout the country. He was unceremoniously fired from the Yankees in 1964, but re-emerged in the late '70s as host and narrator of the syndicated highlights series ''This Week in Baseball'', a role he held until his death in 1996. Allen was--along with his Brooklyn rival, frequent World Series partner, and eventual Yankee colleague Red Barber--the first to receive the Ford C. Frick Award for baseball broadcasting from Hall of Fame in 1978.
* '''George Steinbrenner''' was the longtime owner of the New York Yankees. His deep pockets were historically an asset to the team; his meddling nature and tendency to fire managers was not. He was suspended from the game twice - in 1974 after he was convicted of illegally contributing to Richard Nixon's 1972 re-election campaign, and again in 1990 for hiring a small-time gambler to dig up dirt on Yankees star Dave Winfield. Steinbrenner passed away in 2010; during his time as owner of the Yankees, the team won seven World Series championships. His son Hank now runs the team, and Hank is shaping up to be very much like his father. A fictionalized version of George Steinbrenner was George Costanza's boss on ''Series/{{Seinfeld}}''.
* '''Billy Martin''' was the hard-nosed second baseman for the great New York Yankee teams of the 1950s. After his retirement, he became a successful major league manager known for his ability to turn losing teams into winning ones. However, Martin's abrasive and blunt nature also caused him to perpetually feud with upper management, leading to him being frequently fired despite his success on the field. He served five different stints as manager of the Yankees, in addition to stints in Minnesota, Detroit, Texas, and Oakland; all but Texas reached the postseason at least once under his leadership, and he at least took them from last place to second in the span of a year. He was preparing to become Yankee manager for the sixth time when he died in a car crash on Christmas Day 1989.
** Martin was also well-known for being willing to back up his words with his fists. He sucker-punched Cubs pitcher Jim Brewer during an on-field altercation in 1960 (Brewer required reconstructive surgery), fought two of his own players as manager of the Minnesota Twins in 1969, and in 1979 decked a marshmallow salesman after a heated argument.
** Despite his tempestuous relationship with Steinbrenner, he had GeorgeJetsonJobSecurity in spades. He was fired five times from the Yankees and yet was never taken off the team's payroll.
* '''Bert Blyleven''' is a Hall of Fame pitcher born in [[UsefulNotes/TheNetherlands the Netherlands]][[note]]Born Rik Aalbert Blijleven; his family changed the spelling of their last name after they moved to Canada, later settling in California.[[/note]] but raised in Southern California, known for his devastating breaking ball and long, productive career. A member of the 3000 Strikeout Club, his career spanned over two decades and included two World Series rings (with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1979 and the Minnesota Twins in 1987). He was an inveterate dugout prankster (teammate Kirby Puckett noted that he would crawl under the bench to light somebody's shoelaces on fire - and this was BEFORE Major League Baseball banned chewing tobacco) and overall loose cannon. Currently the color commentator for the Twins.
** Blyleven's post-playing career is notable in part for the path the pitcher took to Cooperstown. He received precious little Hall of Fame support in his first several years on the ballot. Internet baseball fans took up his cause and relentlessly, tirelessly advocated on his behalf, writing countless blog posts and emails to voters. This, along with the facts that many more recent pitchers being under a cloud of suspicion for alleged or admitted use of steroids and HGH and new approaches to statistical analysis steadily revealing that Blyleven had a much more dominating career than he had been given credit for, made the tide turn in Bert's favor. Blyleven's eventual election is almost certainly the first in baseball history attributable largely to the Internet.
* '''Kirby Puckett''' joins Lou Gehrig and Roberto Clemente in baseball's pantheon of players whose career was cut brutally short. One of the most productive and popular stars in Major League Baseball from 1984 until 1995, Puckett was a stalwart presence in the Twins dugout. Most nationally famous for winning Game Six of the 1991 World Series (the second of his two World Series rings) with a walk-off home run against Charlie Leibrandt. Puckett was one of the few good things going for the Twins from 1992 until 1995. During the preseason of the 1996 baseball season, Puckett woke up without vision in his right eye - he would eventually lose the eye and be forced to retire from baseball. He was a first-ballot inductee into the Hall of Fame in the Class of 2000, shortly before a series of low-level incidents and a bitter divorce, unfortunately, tainted his name in Minnesota and forced him to leave for Arizona to get away from the cloud of media suspicion. Puckett died in 2005 of a hemorrhagic stroke.
* '''Randy Johnson''', a.k.a. "The Big Unit" (he's 6'10"/2.08 meters tall), is one of the hardest throwing, most intimidating pitchers in recent history, and is often regarded as the greatest left-handed pitcher ever. He spent most of his career playing with the Mariners or the Diamondbacks, plus a few short stints with the Expos, Astros, Yankees, and Giants. He retired with over 300 victories and the second-most strikeouts in baseball history, behind only Nolan Ryan. He is also one of only 23 pitchers to throw a perfect game. He also formed one-half of the pitching duo that ended up winning the Diamondbacks their first World Series in 2001 and also won them co-MVP honors that year. Also notable for inadvertently [[http://i.imgur.com/bQJ36.gif killing a dove with a pitch]] during a preseason game. One of three pitchers voted into the Hall of Fame in 2015 in their first year of eligibility. He also unofficially tied Clemens' single-game strikeout record--"unofficially" because while he did strike out 20 batters in nine innings pitched, it was not actually a "9-inning game" as the game went into extra innings with Johnson having been pulled for a relief pitcher.
* '''Curt Schilling''' during his playing career was known for not only being an outstanding pitcher (helping the Philadelphia Phillies enter the 1993 World Series, as well as forming the other half of the co-MVP pitching duo that won the Diamondbacks the 2001 World Series), but one of the gutsiest competitors you'll ever find. While pitching for the Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS against the New York Yankees, he tore a ligament in his ankle, yet was able to pitch again in the series thanks to a brand new experimental surgical procedure, albeit one which did not prevent him from bleeding. The Red Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit to win that series, and Schilling's bloody sock became an iconic image of the team's first World Championship in 86 years. Later in his career and after his retirement, Schilling became known for his outspoken political views. He's a hardcore Republican who has openly supported several prominent Republican candidates for public office, notably actively campaigning for John [=McCain=] during his 2008 Presidential run and UsefulNotes/DonaldTrump during his 2016 run. Rumors have long abounded that Schilling would run for public office himself, and he has announced intentions to run for one of Massachusetts' Senate seats in 2018. He's also known as a [[OneOfUs fairly hardcore gamer]] who plays [=MMORPGs=] (once another player that hit a home run off of him claimed it was to avenge an ''VideoGame/{{Everquest}}'' character Schilling had betrayed) and started his own game studio, 38 Studios, after his jersey number. 38 Studios released only one game, the 2012 RPG ''VideoGame/KingdomsOfAmalurReckoning'', [[AcclaimedFlop which was well liked by critics, but ultimately failed sales-wise]]. This led to a major scandal after the company defaulted on its loan to the state of Rhode Island, leaving the company bankrupt and Schilling's reputation in ruins. Worked as an ESPN analyst, while battling cancer, until being fired in 2016 for posting comments critical of pro-transgender bathroom policies on his personal Website/{{Facebook}} page. Though he has a Hall of Fame-worthy career, he's struggled to get support from the Hall's voters in recent years, likely in part because of his political views—in the 2017 round of balloting (the one right after he'd supported Donald Trump's presidential campaign and made the aforementioned comments about transgender bathroom policies, in addition to some other controversial political comments), he was one of just two players who got fewer votes than he'd gotten the previous year (and the other player, Billy Wagner, lost only one vote from the 2016 balloting—Schilling lost over 30).
* '''Ernie Banks''', the Chicago Cubs' longtime shortstop-first baseman, is generally considered to be one of the greatest players to never reach the playoffs. The first black player on the Cubs' roster, Banks was the first player to win two straight MVP awards. He retired with 512 home runs, and 2,528 regular season games. [[ThePollyanna A perpetual optimist]] who had a great love of the game, he was well known for his catchphrase "It's a beautiful day for a ballgame... Let's play two!", stemming from his desire to play doubleheaders. His unwavering cheerfulness led to him earning the nickname "Mr. Sunshine", and Banks was so well-liked during the team's DorkAge that he also earned the moniker "Mr. Cub". To this day, and even after his death in 2015, Banks remains an icon in Chicago.
* '''Curt Flood''' was a defensive center fielder who played for the St. Louis Cardinals. However, when he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1969, he vehemently did not want to go there, so he refused to report, then wrote a letter to Bowie Kuhn requesting to be made a free agent, in circumvention of the league's Reserve Clause (which said that the team that a player played for keeps his rights, meaning that he could not sign with another team even after his contract expired.) When Kuhn refused, Flood sued under the Sherman Antitrust Act for the right to be a free agent. His case went to the Supreme Court, where Flood was denied the right (in an opinion penned by baseball aficionado Justice Harry Blackmun, which opened with a [[AuthorFilibuster seven-page essay on how awesome baseball is]] and how many great players had been screwed by the Reserve Clause, but went on to say, in effect, "MLB has gotten some special exceptions under the Sherman Act in the past that apply to the Reserve Clause, and we're not in a position to change them at this time; sorry."[[labelnote:*]]When presented with Blackmun's opinion, Chief Justice Burger noted, "[[DeadpanSnarker I concur in all but Part I.]]"[[/labelnote]]). Flood's rather ill-advised comparison of the Reserve Clause to slavery probably didn't help. However, Flood's action strengthened the Major League Baseball Players Association such that the reserve clause would be struck down in 1975, creating the "free agency" era in Major League Baseball.
* '''Mike Schmidt''' was known for both his defensive prowess (earning 10 Gold Gloves by the time of his retirement), and his power-hitting ability (he finished his career seventh all time with 548 career home runs). Playing his entire career in Philadelphia, he earned three MVP awards (at that time unheard of for a third baseman), and played in two world series, winning one in 1980. Five years after his retirement, he was named to the Hall of Fame, and about five years after that, he was named to the MLB All Century team as the starting third baseman. Pete Rose once said about Schmidt: "To have his body, I'd trade him mine and my wife's, and I'd throw in some cash."
* '''Ken Griffey''' (Jr.) was one of the best (arguably ''the'' best) players of TheNineties. Well-marketed (even having his own series of baseball games made by Creator/{{Nintendo}} for the [[UsefulNotes/SuperNintendoEntertainmentSystem SNES]] and the UsefulNotes/Nintendo64) and excelling in all facets of the game, he led the previously pathetic Seattle Mariners out of obscurity and enjoyed tremendous popularity. He's also the first of two players in history (Tim Raines Jr. joining him in 2001) to play on the same team with his father (of the same name), who was a successful if not Hall-of-Fame caliber outfielder. After many good years with the Mariners, he requested a move to the Cincinnati Reds, where he would mostly spend the next nine years and last years of baseball injuring his hamstring. Still, he became the 6th player to hit 600 home runs (and, some argue, the first since Aaron to do so legitimately, since the 4th and 5th [Bonds and Sammy Sosa, respectively] were both linked to performance-enhancing drugs). Elected to the Hall of Fame at his first chance in 2016, getting the highest percentage of votes ever from the writers. Despite having a prodigious Hall of Fame career, many fans consider there to be an element of WhatCouldHaveBeen to his career, because for years he seemed destined to break Aaron's all-time home run record, and if not for constant injuries nagging him for those seasons on the Reds he may well have done so. (His time in Seattle may have been part of the problem—the Kingdome, where the M's then played, was infamous for its concrete-hard artificial turf.) May have had the most beautiful swing in history during his prime. One darker, and lesser-known fact about Junior is that he has on occasion been an advocate for suicide/depression awareness, himself having attempted suicide (and nearly succeeding) early in his minor league career.
* '''Barry Bonds''', a former San Francisco Giant, considered one of the best all-around players in baseball history. He holds the record for both the single-season and career record for home runs, which is even more impressive when you consider that he also holds the career records for both walks and [[TheDreaded intentional walks]]. He has won 7 MVP awards, more than any other player (his closest competitor in this department has 3). Despite the fact that he holds these feats, he failed to gain entry to the Hall of Fame when first eligible, receiving only 34% of the vote. Why? [[CheatersNeverProsper Steroids]]. Bonds was one of the central figures in the performance-enhancing drug scandals that rocked baseball in TheNineties and [[TurnOfTheMillennium early 00s]], going from a wiry rookie as a Pittsburgh Pirate to an imposing hulk in his later years. While [=PEDs=] were widely used throughout MLB, [[OldShame even before the "Steroid Era,"]] Bonds has become the [[DesignatedVillain face of the scandal]], aided by his [[ArrogantKungFuGuy frigid relationship]] with the media. Despite his tarnished legacy and the inability of any of his teams to win a World Series, Bonds remains the owner of some of baseball's most cherished records, and simply the most dominant player of his generation.
** Perhaps the most illustrative example of Barry Bonds's general ridiculousness is that he is the ''only'' member of the 500-500 club - players with 500+ career [[LightningBruiser home runs and stolen bases.]] For that matter, he's the only one who even has ''400'' of both home runs and stolen bases, and one of just 6 with 300 of one and 400 of the other (his father, Bobby Bonds, himself a great all-around player, is the only other player with 300 homers and 400 stolen bases; the four other players with 400 homers and 300 steals are Alex Rodriguez, Willie Mays, Andre Dawson, and Carlos Beltrán).
** Bonds drew so much attention for his alleged PED use in large part because of the absurd nature of some of his performances; his 2001-2004 seasons are not only regarded as some of the greatest in the history of the game, Bonds, in some ways, fundamentally altered the game he was playing in. There's an old saying that even the best MLB hitters fail far more often than they succeed; Bonds, in 2004, put up a ''.604'' on-base percentage, meaning he successfully reached base in more than 60 percent of his plate appearances.
** After a long absence from baseball, Bonds returned to the sport full-time at the end of 2015, as the hitting coach for the Miami Marlins. He lasted only one season until being let go for unspecified reasons at the end of the 2016 season; he then returned to the Giants in a front-office role.
* '''Pedro Martínez''' pitched for five teams in his major league career, but was best known for his time with the Boston Red Sox. In the '90s, he was on everyone's short list of "greatest ever", as he was putting up ridiculous, video game-esque pitching numbers at a time when the trend was toward ridiculous, video game-esque hitting numbers. He was controversially cheated out of an MVP award in 1999 because two writers refused to list pitchers, even though one of them had done so the year before. He was also one of the central characters of the recent Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. In the 2000s, his performance began tailing off. He was clearly still a talented pitcher, but in the latter part of the decade had a great deal of trouble staying healthy (he threw the ball very hard and had a slight frame, not an ideal combination), causing most teams to shy away from him. Voted into the Hall alongside Randy Johnson in 2015.
* '''Greg Maddux''' Also known as "Mad Dog" or "The Professor", Maddux pitched for the Cubs, Braves, Padres, and Dodgers. He was discovered at a young age when scouts went to see his brother Mike, and his father said "you'll be back later for the little one". Most scouts were turned off by the scrawny kid who had no velocity on his fastball, but Chicago Cubs scout Doug Mapson saw past it saying "I really believe this boy would be the number one player in the country if only he looked a bit more physical". 1987 was his first full year in the majors, and Maddux went 6–14 record and 5.61 ERA, with several people saying "we told you so, he won't make it. Too scrawny and not enough juice on the ball". Then, in 1988 it started (finishing 18–8 with a 3.18 ERA). Gregory Alan Maddux cut a swath of devastation not seen in major league history, going SEVENTEEN seasons with at least fifteen (15) wins. During this time Maddux would often have an ERA lower than his batting average, Gold Gloves (a record 18 in his career), and Cy Young Awards (four). To give an indication of his dominance during this period; "On July 22, 1997, Maddux threw a complete game with just 76 pitches, against the Cubs. Three weeks earlier, he had shut out the defending champion New York Yankees on 84 pitches, and five days before that, he'd beaten the Phillies with a 90-pitch complete game. Maddux allowed just 20 bases on balls in 1997, including six intentional walks. Ignoring those six intentional walks, Maddux only went to a 3-0 count on one batter in all of 1997". He eventually joined the 3000 strikeout club, and passed Clemens in career wins. Maddux's 355 career victories are the most of any pitcher whose career began after World War II, and the second-most (behind Warren Spahn) of any pitcher whose career began after 1920. His mind and ability to read players was uncanny; he once intentionally gave up a homer to Jeff Bagwell so later on in the season Bagwell would look for that pitch again. On another occasion, while sitting on the bench, Maddux once told everyone "watch this, we might need to call an ambulance for the first base coach." The batter then drove the next pitch into the chest of the Dodgers' first base coach. There are several other stories about Greg Maddux, and no one should argue his credentials as one of the greatest of all time. Elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 2014.
* '''Rogers Hornsby''' Nicknamed "Rajah," Hornsby was perhaps the greatest right-handed hitter to play the game and one of, if not ''the'', greatest hitter of all time. Hornsby batted a lifetime .358 average (second only to Ty Cobb's .366), won the Triple Crown in the National League twice (one of which was also an MLB triple crown), was a two-time MVP, and batted .400 or higher ''three'' times. Hornsby's .424 batting average in 1924 has never been matched in the modern era, nor has his .722 slugging percentage (for players with over 600 at-bats) in 1922. Hornsby was also famous for a mean disposition and dislike of younger players; despite excellent offensive statistics, he was often traded because nobody else on the team could stand him. In one incident while assessing prospects for the New York Yankees, the nicest analysis he could muster was that one of the prospects only "looks like a Major League ball player" (the player in question? Mickey Mantle). Rajah was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1942, but the Hall held no induction ceremony during U.S. involvement in World War II, and never bothered to include Gehrig or Hornsby in later ceremonies. The Hall finally rectified that error in 2013, when Gehrig, Hornsby, and nine other figures voted in during the war years were part of the induction ceremony.
* '''Bob Gibson''' One of the most dominant pitchers of all time, Bob Gibson was a 9-time All Star, won nine Gold Gloves, two Cy Young awards, pitched one no-hitter, set records with 35 strikeouts in a World Series and 17 K's in a single World Series game, threw 255 complete games, and holds the single-season record for ERA with a 1.12 mark set in 1968. In fact Gibson's 1968 performance (combined with other dominant pitching performances that year) changed the game of baseball, by leading Major League Baseball to lower the mound by five inches and reduce the size of the strike zone. Gibson was also famous for his fierce intensity on the mound, and earned a reputation for knocking down and hitting batters (102). In addition to his pitching, Gibson also possessed great skill with the bat, and is one of only two pitchers since WWII with a career line of a .200+ batting average, 20 or more home runs, and over 100 runs batted in. He also played for the Harlem Globetrotters before turning to baseball full-time.
* '''Harry Kalas''' was briefly an announcer for the Houston Astros. Shortly after, he became the announcer for the Philadelphia Phillies, which he did until his passing in April of 2009. Kalas was a well known voice not only among Phillies fans, but also was known for doing voiceover work for the NFL, after the passing of original voiceover artist John Facenda. Kalas was known for his memorable home run calls, and had the catch phrase "Swing... and a long drive, this ball is... outta here!" when calling a home run.
* '''Stan "The Man" Musial''' played his entire career for the St. Louis Cardinals and is considered not only the greatest Cardinal of all time, but also one of the greatest men ever to play the game. Not just as a player, but as a person. He was a 3-time MVP, 3-time World Series Champion, 24-time All-Star, and had a .331 lifetime batting average, 3,630 hits[[labelnote:*]]In one of the most remarkable statistical oddities in MLB history, Musial had exactly the same number of hits at home and away (1,815).[[/labelnote]], 475 home runs, and 1,951 [=RBIs=], but he also gave away more autographs than any other player and became an iconic civic figure in the city of St. Louis. He was so nice and kind--he cheered up everyone he met (from sick children in hospitals to ordinary adults) and aged into a CoolOldGuy with a harmonica--that he verges into BoringInvincibleHero territory, but in the best way possible (like a RealLife Franchise/{{Superman}} or ComicBook/CaptainAmerica--he was just that ''good''). A proud son of Polish (father) and Czech (mother) immigrants, he made trips to Poland to help popularize baseball there, and became good friends with [[UsefulNotes/ThePope Pope John Paul II]] in the process; they eventually named a stadium after him and gave him Poland's highest civilian honor. He was just about the best and least-controversial example of a SacredCow there ever was. Hank Aaron has said of him, "I didn't just like Stan Musial. I wanted to ''be'' like him." Even [[JerkAss Ty Cobb]] said that Stan was the closest there'd be to a perfect player. Oh, and he once found out on a family trip that he had [[GermansLoveDavidHasselhoff fans in Australia and Tahiti]]. Stan the Man ranks among the greatest of the greats, but he's not often talked about because he was never a Yankee or a Dodger. But when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1969, then-Commissioner Ford Frick said, "Here stands baseball's perfect warrior. Here stands baseball's perfect knight." Those words were etched into The Man's statue at Busch Stadium, which has been covered in flowers and memorabilia since he passed away on January 19, 2013, at age 92. Before his death, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the U.S.'s highest civilian honor, from President UsefulNotes/BarackObama in December 2011, thanks to a grassroots petition campaign conducted by members of Cardinal Nation.[[note]]Fun fact: During Musial's high school days in Pennsylvania, one of his baseball and basketball teammates was Buddy Griffey, father and grandfather of the baseball-playing Ken Griffeys. Musial and his white basketball teammates once threatened to forfeit a major tournament because a hotel restaurant wouldn't seat Buddy in the main dining room.[[/note]]
* '''Roberto Clemente''' was one of the sport's first Latin American stars. He spent his entire 18-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and over the course of that career, he became a 15-time all-star, got exactly 3,000 hits, was a part of two teams that won the World Series, and became known as one of the best defensive right fielders of all time. Well-respected for his skills at the game, he was also well-respected for his humanitarian deeds, frequently working in charities in Latin American countries. Sadly, he and his career met an untimely end in 1972, when he was in a plane crash on his way to deliver aid to victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua. After his death, the league named an award after him, which is awarded each year to the player who "best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team"—generally a player who both plays the game well and gets involved in charities, like Clemente. He was also promptly inducted into the Hall of Fame, setting a precedent that the 5-year retirement period rule does not apply to deceased players.[[note]]The time period is six months, instead[[/note]] Is the subject of two different campaigns advocating him for a) league-wide retirement of the number 21, and b) '' sainthood''.
* '''Jean Faut''' was the pitcher for the All American Girls Professional Baseball League's South Bend Blue Sox from 1946 to 1953. Her statistics as a pitcher can easily stand alongside some of the greatest male pitchers of Major League baseball. What makes her truly notable is that she accomplished something no other pitcher in the history of professional baseball ever did: over the course of her career, Jean Faut pitched two perfect games (that is, a game in which no batter even made it to first base, much less made it around the bases and back to home; this is a feat so rare that it has only happened 23 times in the history of major league baseball). In addition, she pitched a one-hitter earlier in her career, meaning that not only did she pitch two perfect games, she was only one base-hit away from pitching a ''third''. Legendary Brooklyn Dodgers manager Leo Durocher said of Faut that, had she been a man, he would have begged Dodgers owner and president Branch Rickey (who had as Dodgers manager signed Jackie Robinson in 1947) to sign her in a heartbeat; unfortunately, league rules specifically forbade women ever playing pro ball in the majors (rules which formally stood until 1992; no MLB team has signed a woman even to a minor-league contract to this day).
* '''Sandy Koufax''' is widely held to be one of the finest pitchers in the history of the game, despite having serious control difficulties in his early career. He actually was far more interested in basketball than he ever was in his own sport, and had it not been for the fact that he could throw a 100-mile-an-hour fastball, might have ended up in ''that'' sport than baseball. He is said to have studied the "art and science" of pitching, to the point that he became one of the finest technicians in that position in the game. Mickey Mantle once pointed out that Koufax always signaled his pitches before his windup. "If Koufax was going to throw you a fast ball, his elbows would be out away from his body; if it was gonna be a curve, his elbows would be in close to his body. Every batter who ever faced Koufax knew precisely what he was about to get, but it didn't matter because the pitches were so good you couldn't hit them anyways." He was the first pitcher to win the Cy Young Award three times, the first to pitch four no-hitters, and the eighth pitcher in major league baseball to pitch a perfect game. He had a higher career strikeout total than a career innings-pitched total, the first starting pitcher to accomplish that feat with a minimum of 1000 innings pitched (Among players who played most of their career before the 2010s, the only other starters to achieve that are Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, and Pedro Martínez. Many relief pitchers have done this over short periods, but the only ones to do that while meeting the 1000-inning minimum are Trevor Hoffman and Kerry Wood. In recent years, with the rise of strikeout rates, the feat has become much more commonplace). He left the game when he was only 30 due to arthritis in his left (throwing) elbow, and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame five years later (becoming the youngest player ever so honored).
* On the subject of '''Kerry Wood''', he wasn't always a reliever. As a starting pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, he pitched one of the greatest games of all time, yielding just one hit and no walks while striking out a record-tying 20 batters... at age 20, making him one of only two pitchers in MLB history to strike out the same number of players as their age. He, along with Cubs teammate Mark Prior, are among the poster children for promising careers derailed by injuries (which are believed to have been exacerbated by overwork).
* '''Sophie Kurys''' was a already a star shortstop in fast-pitch softball before joining the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, where she played second base for the Racine Belles from 1943 to 1951. Many baseball historians describe her as the greatest second baseman who ever played the game, male or female. She was called "Tina Cobb" during her professional career, for her ability to steal bases, because once she reached first base, it was almost inevitable she was going to end up on second and there was ''nothing'' the opposing team could do about it. She averaged 150 stolen bases per season, with a career high of 201 in 1946 (a single-season record she still holds; the closest any male player has ever come is Rickey Henderson's 130). Throughout her career she amassed a career total 1,114 stolen bases, more than Ty Cobb (892), Lou Brock (938) and Japanese star Yutaka Fukumoto (1,065). Her record was finally surpassed in 1994, by the aforementioned Rickey Henderson, who ended his career with 1406 total stolen bases. Most of her fans go to great lengths to point out that it took Henderson nearly 20 years to break her record, while she set it in only 8.
** Something that is often overlooked when Sophie Kurys is discussed is that she set her record for stolen bases while wearing a skirt. This is ''not'' an insignificant detail. The uniforms for the women who played in the AAGBL were skirts because the management wanted to show the world that these were extremely feminine women ("No Tomboys" was the official line). But that meant that when a runner like Kurys slid into second, she did it with bare legs. Sliding across the hard-packed dirt of the infield resulted in huge bruises and multiple "strawberries" -- open woulds that often bled through the players' uniforms.
* '''Rickey Henderson''', as mentioned above, holds the major league record for both career Stolen Bases and stolen bases for one season. He also holds the records for career runs scored (2,295) and unintentional walks (2,129), and is among the few players in baseball history to amass 3,000 hits. All of these skills combined to make him not only arguably the best leadoff hitter of all time, but one of the greatest ''all around'' players of all time[[note]] Once asked if he thought Henderson was a future Hall of Famer, statistician Bill James replied, "If you could split him in two, you'd have two Hall of Famers."[[/note]]. Though he's often cast as a singles hitter like most leadoff hitters, he had a decent amount of power, too, sometimes hitting as many as 28 home runs, a large total for a leadoff hitter, especially one who played most of his career in the pitcher's era of the 1980's. He played for 25 years and for a lot of teams, but is best remembered for his 5 years with the Yankees and many stints with the Athletics, with whom he won one of his World Series rings in 1989 and his only MVP Award in 1990. Also known for being extremely eccentric, in particular for his ThirdPersonPerson tendencies.
** As of 2017, the A's have named the field at the Oakland Coliseum after him, which goes to show how iconic he is, not just as an Athletic, but as a player in general.
* '''Dennis Eckersley''' was one of the first pitchers to be a closer in the current sense of the word, and more than any other was the one who defined the position as a ninth inning specialist. He was a good but generally unspectacular starter for the first half of his career, highlighted by getting two all-star selections and throwing a no-hitter in 1977. He was switched to being a closer when he joined the Oakland A's in 1987, and had several ridiculous years during the A's dominant run in the late 80's and early 90's. His best year was probably 1990, when he had an ERA of ''0.61'', a ridiculously low ERA (even for a relief pitcher) that would go unmatched until Rays closer Fernando Rodney finished the 2012 season with an ERA of 0.60. In 1992, he became one of the few relief pitchers to ever win both the Cy Young and the MVP Award. Though he's a Hall of Famer and generally considered an all-time great, his skills fell off a bit after 1992, and he was never nearly that good again. His most famous moment is probably giving up a walk-off home run to Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
* '''Earl Weaver''' was the manager of the Baltimore Orioles from 1968-1982 and 1985-1986, during which time he led them to six division titles, four American League Championships, and a World Series Victory in 1970. He was notable for many innovative and unusual tactics, many of which were similar in principle to sabermetrics, which had not yet been invented when he was managing. For example, he hated plays like bunts, base-stealing, and hit-and-runs that he viewed as giving up outs—two of his philosophies were "On offense, your most precious possessions are your 27 outs" and "If you play for one run, that's all you'll get," preferring fighting it out and waiting for big innings to playing small-ball to get maybe one run. He had many other quotable mottos, the most commonly remembered being "Pitching, Defense, and Three-Run Homers." Weaver was also known for his [[ArgumentOfContradictions very animated arguments]] with umpires; he typically turned the bill of his cap around when he came out to argue so that he could get right in the umpires' faces. Died during a Caribbean cruise on January 19, 2013, the same day that Stan Musial died.
* '''Walter Johnson''' was a pitcher who spent his entire career with the original Washington Senators during the early 1900's. As this was the dead-ball era, his low-90's fastball, which would be considered fairly average today, made him one of the best power pitchers in the game at the time- or at least, what could be considered "power pitchers" in the dead-ball era. And he certainly had success- his 417 career wins are second only to Cy Young's 511, and his ERA regularly went below 2.00 (his career ERA is 2.17). His major league record of 110 shutouts still stands today and is considered unbreakable. He also was the first (and for a long time, only) pitcher to get at least 3,000 career strikeouts, and he held the major league record with 3,509 until 1983, when it was broken by Nolan Ryan (and, later in the same year, by Steve Carlton and Gaylord Perry). His long list of accomplishments led to him being one of the five players inducted into the Hall of Fame in its first year of existence, although he's since become much more obscure, largely due to the fact that the Senators were generally terrible while he played there (and for the entirety of their 60 years in Washington, for that matter).
* '''Ozzie Smith''' was a shortstop who played for three years with the San Diego Padres, before being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, where he spent the remainder of his 19-year career. Though not known for his offense (he managed to collect over 2400 hits, but had almost zero power) Smith is perhaps the greatest defensive shortstop in the history of the game. He appeared on fifteen All-Star teams and collected ''thirteen'' Gold Gloves for his defensive play, won the 1985 [=NLCS=] MVP award, and was a first-ballot inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He set the single-season record for assists in 1980 with 621, the career mark with 8372, has a lifetime fielding percentage of .978, (13th all-time among all shortstops) and his Range Factor of 5.215 ranks fifth all time at his position. Ozzie quickly became a beloved icon in St. Louis, where his athletic and acrobatic play quickly earned him the nickname "The Wizard of Oz." If there was ever a definition of the Human Highlight Reel it was Ozzie in his prime, and any countdown of the best defensive plays of all time will feature him prominently. ''Series/AmericanIdol'' fans might remember his name from season 4, when his son Nikko finished in 9th place.
* '''Tony Gwynn''' was an outfielder who played his entire 20-year career with the San Diego Padres. Known as an intense student of hitting—he was one of the first players to use video to analyze his swing—he became a member of the 3,000 hit club, his career .338 batting average is the highest among players who began their careers after World War II, and his eight NL batting titles are tied with Honus Wagner for the most all-time. Gwynn's .394 batting average in 1994 was the closest any player has come to hitting .400 since Ted Williams in 1941. Gwynn also played in 15 All-Star Games and won five Gold Gloves, and was elected alongside Ripken to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. In 2003, he became the head baseball coach at his alma mater of San Diego State (where he had played both baseball and basketball) and served in that role (as well as part-time gigs on the side with ESPN and Yahoo! Sports) until dying of cancer in 2014.
* '''Chipper Jones''', during his 19-year career, was typically considered the best switch-hitter in the game and one of the best of all time.[[note]] Jones is one of only two players with 5,000 or more at bats to have hit .300 from both sides of home plate. The other was Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch.[[/note]] He spent his entire career with the Atlanta Braves, at one point even re-working his contract with them so they would have more money to spend on other players. However, he was never that great of a power hitter, despite consistently putting up solid numbers over the past decade and a half. Given that he was hitting in the era of players such as Bonds, [=McGwire=] and later Pujols, he's basically a case of OvershadowedByAwesome. He retired at the end of the 2012 season, and it's expected that he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on his first try in 2018.
* '''Jim Thome'''[[note]]pronounced TOW-mee[[/note]], who played for six teams in a 22-year career, most notably the Indians in the 1990s and the Phillies in the early 2000s, is something of a forgotten man in recent baseball history—despite being one of only nine players with 600 career homers. A big part of it was his personality. While universally considered one of the nicest individuals in sports, and also beloved everywhere he played (a UsefulNotes/{{Cleveland}} newspaper poll found him the most popular athlete in the city's history, though that was before UsefulNotes/{{LeBron|James}} came to town), he was noted for his reluctance to promote himself. One of the few power hitters of the steroid era who was never suspected of PED use. He last played in 2012, but didn't formally retire until 2014.
* '''Trevor Hoffman''' was a relief pitcher who spent almost all of his career with the San Diego Padres. He became the Padres' closer shortly after joining them, and, somewhat unusually for a closer, held onto it for the next decade and a half (the volatile nature of relief pitchers means that most closers tend to flame out fairly quickly), making a few all-star appearances and generally being consistently able to lock down games for the Padres. As he came into the league right around the same time as Dennis Eckersley codified the current role of the closer as the guy who got all the saves, he got a lot of saves pretty much every year in his career, and because closers with this type of role weren't as common prior to Eckersley's dominant run in the early 90's (''especially'' ones who were closers for almost their entire careers), he managed to completely destroy the all-time career saves record with 601. Shortly after he retired, that record was itself broken by Mariano Rivera, who had similarly been a great closer for a really long time. That Hoffman's career largely overlapped with Rivera's caused him to generally be OvershadowedByAwesome, as Rivera was always considered the slightly better closer and was far more popular. Still, Hoffman was undeniably a great closer, and his 601 saves and 9.36 strikeouts/9 innings pitched ratio (the latter is the highest of any reliever with at least 1000 innings pitched), among other stats, should ensure his eventual Hall of Fame selection. Throughout pretty much his entire career, he had the song "[[Music/{{ACDC}} Hells Bells]]" played as his entrance music, which would end up inspiring the Yankees' staff to play "[[Music/{{Metallica}} Enter Sandman]]" whenever Mariano Rivera entered games (in keeping with Rivera's larger popularity, "Enter Sandman" would become far more iconic for Rivera than "Hells Bells" ever was for Hoffman).
* '''Tommy John''' pitched for numerous teams for a long time, achieving his greatest success with the Dodgers and Yankees. Though he's somewhat remembered for his pitching, he's far better remembered for the elbow surgery now named after him that he was the first patient of. In the middle of the 1974 season, he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm, making pitching effectively impossible; at the time, the injury was considered career-ending. Not willing to let his career end like this, he spent the next few months working with one of the Dodgers' team doctors, Frank Jobe, attempting a comeback. After exhausting several other options, they decided to replace the ligament with a tendon from his other arm, the procedure that would later be known as "Tommy John surgery". At the time, Jobe thought that the odds of a comeback were about 1 in 100, but it worked great; far better than he could have ever expected, in fact. John was able to return to pitching in 1976, and would continue pitching until 1989, never being bothered by the elbow again. His career numbers from both before and after the surgery include having won 288 games and having pitched for ''Twenty-Six'' seasons—a major league record, until Nolan Ryan broke it a few years later. Now, the surgery is fairly commonplace, in both baseball and other sports, but especially for baseball and especially for pitchers; about 1 in 4 of currently active pitchers have had the surgery at least once, a few more than once.
* '''Ozzie Guillén''' is the former manager of the Chicago White Sox and the Miami Marlins. He is credited with making the White Sox a winning team again, though he is also perpetually in the news for saying something controversial, often an inflammatory remark regarding a player, umpire, sportswriter or Fidel Castro, which turned out to be a very bad idea when he was managing Miami. (However, there are many who feel he attracted controversy to himself on purpose [[TheChessmaster in order to take heat off his players]].)
* '''Mariano Rivera''', a closer for the New York Yankees, is baseball's all-time saves leader with 652 saves and believed by many to be the best relief pitcher in baseball history. He is particularly known for his many clutch postseason performances, often working up to two innings for a save. (Saves lasting more than one inning had become extremely rare by the time Rivera began pitching.) Just to give you an idea of his postseason dominance, more men have walked on the moon than scored an earned run on him in the playoffs. [[note]]12 men walked on the moon during the Apollo Missions, Rivera allowed 11 earned runs in his entire playoff career, though he also allowed 2 unearned runs.[[/note]] His signature pitch, the cut fastball or "cutter" (a fastball thrown with a slightly off-center grip to give it extra lateral movement), has been compared by opposing batters to a {{chainsaw|Good}}, because its late, fast movement breaks bats off in batters' hands. A torn ACL early in the 2012 season could have brought his career to an end, but he said that he didn't want his career to end like this and would try his best to recover in time for the 2013 season. He then announced he would retire at the end of the 2013 season, and came back as if he hadn't had a day off, much less a year. In his final All-Star Game appearance in 2013, he was named MVP. Pretty much a mortal lock for first-ballot induction to the Hall of Fame in 2019. As noted above, he is also the last player ever to wear jersey number No. 42 in MLB.
* '''Jamie Moyer''' was the oldest active player in baseball (turned 50 in November 2012) at the time of his retirement in 2013—and actually had been the oldest active player in baseball for several years by that point. He started in the majors in 1986. He holds the distinction of having allowed more home runs than any other pitcher in history, though when you consider how long he had to pitch to reach that mark, it isn't that embarrassing an accomplishment at all. He also became the oldest pitcher to ever win a game in 2012, and weeks later became the oldest player ever to collect an RBI.
* '''Vladimir Guerrero''' played for 16 years, mostly for the Expos and the Angels. During his prime, he was considered one of the most feared hitters in baseball, usually hitting for both high average and power. He had a 10-year streak in which he hit at least .300 with 27 home runs and a .900 OPS, and at least 100 RBI's in every season except for one that was shortened by injury. He never hit lower than .290. In 2004, his first year with the Angels, he hit .337 with 39 Home Runs and 136 RBI's and won the AL MVP. He also was a decent base-stealer early in his career, and came just one home run short of the 40-40 club (40 home runs, 40 steals) in 2002. He was also famed as one of baseball's best "bad-ball hitters"; that is, he frequently swung at and got hits off of balls thrown well outside the strike zone—he once even got a hit off a curveball that bounced in the dirt.
* '''Roy Halladay''', who last played for the Philadelphia Phillies, was arguably the best pitcher in the game in the late 2000's and early 2010's. He began his career with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1998, but in 2000 became so bad that he was demoted all the way down to the Blue Jays' Single-A team to relearn how to pitch. It worked: he had a breakout season in 2002 and won the AL Cy Young award in 2003. In December 2009, he was traded to the Phillies, giving him a shot at pitching in the postseason. [[note]]During his time in Toronto, The Blue Jays were generally mediocre, only once finishing higher than 3rd in the tough AL East, and made no postseason appearances between 1993 and 2015[[/note]] During his first season with the Phillies, he threw a perfect game against the Florida Marlins, and in his first-ever postseason appearance, he threw a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds - only the second postseason no-hitter in baseball history, following Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Halladay won the NL Cy Young in 2010, one of only six pitchers to do so in both leagues (the others are Gaylord Perry, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, and Max Scherzer). Sadly, injuries over the next few years severely impacted his ability to pitch, and ultimately forced him to retire after the 2013 season after signing a ceremonial contract with the Jays.
* '''Derek Jeter''', a shortstop who retired at the end of the 2014 season after playing his entire career with the New York Yankees, was generally thought of as the "heart and soul" of the run of great Yankees teams from the mid-'90s to the 2010s, although he was usually not their best player statistically. In his last season, Jeter was the only active player with 3,000 career hits. He is also personable and charismatic, and had a tendency to play well in clutch situations. However, sportswriters and Yankees fans often had a Godlike reverence of him to the point of causing a HypeBacklash for everyone else (though even with the backlash, nobody seems to have anything actually ''bad'' to say about him). Immediately after he retired, the Hall of Fame [[http://baseballhall.org/discover/countdown-2020 put up a web page]] that considers his first-ballot induction in 2020 a foregone conclusion. In 2017, Jeter was unveiled as part of a group that won the bidding to buy the Miami Marlins; with the sale closed, he's now running the team's baseball and business operations (though the vote in owners' meetings belongs to the main money man in the group).
* '''Allan "Bud" Selig''' was the MLB commissioner, officially and unofficially, from 1992–2014.[[note]]prior to that, he owned the Milwaukee Brewers[[/note]] He made a number of risky changes in Major League Baseball's format which risked alienating the sport's traditionalist fanbase but since have proven very successful, such as interleague play (before 1997, American and National league teams did not play each other except in the World Series), the introduction of the new three-round playoff format, and the institution of "instant replay" review in his final year as commissioner. His most important achievement would probably be the addition of the wild card (and later, the second wild card), which increases overall fan interest by keeping many teams relevant much later into the season than they normally would be. However, he's largely blamed for the performance-enhancing drug scandals which more or less happened on his watch, and this fact has caused him to be portrayed as inept and bumbling.
* '''Armando Galarraga''' became famous for his perfect game for the 2010 Detroit Tigers which was tarnished by a bad call by umpire Jim Joyce, who tearfully apologized, leading to an OddFriendship between the two. He was later traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks where he seemed to [[TookALevelInJerkass take a level in jerkass]]. He then got demoted to their Triple-A affliate in Reno and ended up being bounced around the minor league systems of many teams. After being released by the Texas Rangers in 2014, he had a brief stint in Taiwan's CPBL before finishing his playing career in the Mexican League, officially retiring at the end of 2015.
* Hall of Fame catcher '''Mike Piazza''', the longtime backstop for the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets, is generally considered the best offensive player in the history of his position. Piazza was an extremely late-round draft pick[[note]]He was drafted in the ''62nd'' round, the 1390th player taken in the 1988 draft, making him by a wide margin the latest-drafted player ever to make the Hall of Fame. (Note that the MLB draft now runs for only 40 rounds.) Interestingly, he was elected the same year as Ken Griffey Jr., currently the only player picked first in the draft in the Hall, which makes him the ''earliest''-drafted player ever to make the Hall of Fame[[/note]] - even that much only, famously, [[{{Nepotism}} a favor to his godfather]], then-Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda - and had to learn his position on the fly as a professional. His excellent contact rate and opposite field power nonetheless shot him through the Dodgers' system and he debuted in September of 1992, winning rookie of the year honors the next year. His best season came in 1997 with a ridiculous .362/.431/.638 triple slash line, but with his contract due the next season the new Dodgers ownership gave a lowball offer and, on his refusal, dealt him to the then-Florida Marlins in a salary dump. One week later, the notoriously cheap Marlins sent Piazza to the Mets, then in surprise playoff contention, for several prospects. The Piazza-led Mets reached the playoffs in 1999 and 2000 with several near-misses thereafter, while interleague play brought his famous showdowns with then-Yankee Roger Clemens, who by most accounts resorted to [[RageQuit just hitting him when pitching failed to work.]] Late in the 2001 season, Piazza famously hit a dramatic home run to left center in the first major league game played after the September 11 terrorist attacks, remaining the signature hit of his career ([[EveryYearTheyFizzleOut the rest of September did not go so well for his team, alas]]). Although his defensive reputation was a punchline for much of his career as he was historically poor at throwing out base stealers, Piazza's defense has been surprisingly VindicatedByHistory. Repeated studies of pitch framing - catching a pitch specifically to show it as a strike - showed him as one of the best catchers of his era at the skill. He probably would like you to know that [[MemeticMutation he only]] [[HaveIMentionedIAmHeterosexualToday dates women.]]
* '''Vin Scully''', a TV/radio announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers for [[LongRunners more than sixty seasons]] (going back to their last few years as the ''Brooklyn'' Dodgers), is widely regarded as one of the greatest baseball announcers ever, if not ''the'' greatest. A recipient of the Baseball Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting, he is revered in California (where he was named state Sportscaster of the Year an unmatched 33 times), and was listed as the greatest sports announcer ever by the American Sportswriters Association. But, more importantly, he's regarded as the soul of the Dodgers, much like Chick Hearn was for basketball's Los Angeles Lakers. During the 1980s Scully was the main play-by-play announcer for NBC's baseball coverage, where his warm, friendly voice became familiar to a nationwide audience. Some of his most iconic calls include Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series, Sandy Koufax's perfect game in 1965, Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run (against a Dodgers pitcher) in 1974, Bill Buckner's error in the 1986 World Series, and Kirk Gibson's game-winning home run off Dennis Eckersley in the 1988 World Series. After 67 seasons and more than 9,000 games, Scully called his final Dodgers broadcast on October 2, 2016; fittingly, it was a game against the Dodgers' arch-rivals the Giants, who had also been Scully's favorite team in his New York City boyhood.
* '''David Ortiz''' (also known by his nickname "Big Papi") was a first baseman and designated hitter, first with the Minnesota Twins from 1997–2002 and most notably with the Boston Red Sox from 2003 until his retirement at the end of the 2016 season. Ortiz is the newest member of the 500-homer club, reaching the milestone in 2015. While he wasn't always the Bosox' best statistical player in any given season, he was certainly their most recognizable and famous player throughout his time in Boston, similar to Derek Jeter being the heart and soul of the Yankees. He's somewhat of a rarity among designated hitters in that he almost never played in the field- most American League teams, if they even employ a single full-time DH rather than rotating the position among several different players, will have them also play plenty of games (at least 20-30ish) as a non-DH. And with most of the other full-time DH's, they hardly ever play in the field either because they're really old, have suffered injuries that robbed their fielding ability but not their hitting, or both (Jim Thome, for example). While Ortiz retired just before turning 41, he never even played a substantial amount of games in the field even when he was younger (generally just no-DH games in National League stadiums), simply because he's an epically terrible fielder. Still, he was an amazing hitter, and his 50-homer season in 2006 remains the only 50 HR season by a Designated Hitter. In 2013, Ortiz won the World Series MVP Award for his excellent play during the championship games and the postseason as whole, including hitting a clutch grand slam during the 8th inning of Game 2 against the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS. Big Papi went out in 2016 with a big bang, by several statistical measures having the most productive swan song for a hitter since at least Ted Williams' last season of 1960, and also setting new records for the most homers and RBI by a player in his final season.
* '''Alex Rodriguez''', best known for his tenure on with the New York Yankees, was baseball's highest paid player from 2001, when he signed a 10-year, $250 million contract with the Texas Rangers, to 2014, when his salary was exceeded thanks to larger contracts given to Clayton Kershaw and Miguel Cabrera. A shortstop in the first half of his career with the Mariners and Rangers, he moved to third base upon being traded to the Yankees in 2004, as the Yankees already had Derek Jeter at shortstop. His status as one of the game's all-time greats has never been in any doubt; he was a prime MVP candidate every year from his age-21 season in 1996 to about 2010 (he won the award three times, and arguably should have won more), when age and injuries started to rob him of some of his skill. His large contract combined with the fact that he used performance-enhancing drugs several times throughout his career make him one of baseball's most passionately disliked figures. His most passionate haters are mostly fans of the Red Sox (for reasons including A) He's a Yankee, B) A failed trade that might have brought him to Boston instead of New York in 2003, and C) A number of in-game incidents, most notably slapping the ball out of Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo's glove in the 2004 ALCS) or the Mariners (because he started in Seattle, then left after the 2000 season and signed the aforementioned massive contract). But even some Yankees fans hate him, for nebulous reasons ranging from "he's cold and distant" to "he hasn't played in a World Series" (not true after 2009) to "he doesn't deliver big hits when you need them" (an assertion not backed up by statistics), to opting out of his contract during the last game of the 2007 World Series (the Yankees weren't playing in it, having been eliminated in the first round of the postseason, but the timing still attracted lots of criticism) to sign a slightly bigger 10-year contract with the Yankees shortly after, to his late-career decline in production, among others. Known by his nickname "A-Rod", but prior to 2009 his lack of postseason performance led to detractors (including within the Yankees locker room) to call him "A-Fraud", and his admission in 2009 to having used steroids earlier in his career while playing for the Rangers inevitably led to him being called "A-Roid". Injuries slowed his production tremendously in his last few years, to the point where he was no longer considered an elite player. He was banned for the 2014 season due to allegedly obtaining (and using) large amounts of [=PEDs=] from Biogenesis, a now-closed South Florida "anti-aging clinic". While he had a bit of a resurgence in 2015, joining the 3,000-hit club and passing Willie Mays to go into fourth on the career home run list along the way, he struggled to produce the next season, leading the the Yankees benching and eventually cutting him from the team to make way for younger prospects (with one year on his contract left to go, this forced them to eat quite a bit of dead money). A-Rod played his last game as a Yankee in the middle of the 2016 season, and officially retired in 2017 (despite being only four home runs away from joining the 700-homer club) to work as a full-time baseball broadcaster.

[[folder:Current people to know in MLB]]
* '''Rob Manfred''' succeeded Bud Selig as commissioner in January 2015. Manfred first worked with MLB as an outside counsel in 1987, became a full-time MLB employee in 1998, and became Chief Operating Officer at the end of the 2013 season. His first significant headlines came after the the 2015 season when he shot down Pete Rose's latest bid for reinstatement to MLB. However, he would later allow the Reds to enshrine Rose in the team's Hall of Fame and formally retire his number in 2016.
* '''Albert Pujols''' of the Los Angeles Angels is a first baseman who, during his days with the Cardinals, was seen by many as baseball's best player for most of the 2000's, and, strangely enough, is actually polite, charitable, and well-liked. Lots of fans hope he'll break Barry Bonds's records someday. He is nicknamed "The Machine" due to his formerly incredibly consistent production. For a 10-year stretch from 2001 to 2010, he hit .300 with at least 30 Home Runs and 100 RBI's every year. He won 3 MVP awards in this time (2005, 2008, 2009), and the only reason he didn't win more is because Barry Bonds was putting up ridiculous numbers from 2001 to 2004. After he left the Cardinals at the end of the 2011 season, his production has noticeably slowed due to age and injury, and it's looking unlikely he'll ever be as good as he once was, or that he'll even come close to being as valuable as the huge contract the Angels signed him to (10 years, $240 million). That said, he can still occasionally hit like his old self from time to time. He became the newest member of the 600-homer club in 2017.
** He's also called "El Hombre" (The Man), although he has said that the nickname "The Man" only belongs to the former Cardinals slugger Stan Musial, to whom the name is a ShoutOut and CallBack.
* '''Ichiro Suzuki''', an outfielder who currently plays for the Miami Marlins, is the first Japanese position player to have a protracted, successful career in the American majors. After many years of being one of the NPB's biggest stars, including 3 MVP awards, he came to America in 2001, signing a contract with the Seattle Mariners. He immediately became one of Major League Baseball's best players, hitting .350 and stealing 56 bases that year, helping the Mariners win a record-tying 116 regular-season games, and winning both the AL Rookie of the Year and MVP Awards. He continued to play at an elite level for the next decade, with a record 10 straight seasons with at least 200 hits from 2001 to 2010. In 2004, his best season, he collected 262 hits, breaking the major league record for hits in a single season. He is well-known for his unusual hitting style- rather than try to always hit the ball as hard as he can, Ichiro prefers to "slap" the ball into gaps, trying mainly to hit balls wherever no fielder is standing. Despite not appearing in the majors until he was 27, he reached 3,000 MLB hits in 2016, even though by then he was no longer a regular starter due to age-related decline. If you combine the 1200+ hits that he got in Japan with his MLB totals, he has more hits than Pete Rose, leading to an intense debate over whether Ichiro should be considered baseball's hit king instead of Rose. Ichiro is considered a lock for the Hall of Fame once he becomes eligible. He is also an apparent victim of MemeticMutation.
* '''Miguel Cabrera''' of the Detroit Tigers is currently a first baseman, though he has also played third base and in the outfield at other points in his career. A week before the 2014 season began, he signed a 10-year, $292 million contract extension with the Tigers, at the time the largest contract in baseball history. He originally came up with the Florida (now Miami) Marlins halfway through the 2003 season, and put up decent numbers for a then-20-year-old rookie and contributed a bit to the Marlins' World Series win that year. He spent the next few years in relative obscurity despite several all-star appearances, as the Marlins were fairly mediocre and he was [[OvershadowedByAwesome outshined by several other players, like Albert Pujols]]. Then, during the 2007 offseason, he and the Marlins' ace pitcher Dontrelle Willis were traded to the Tigers for a package of very good prospects. People's opinions of the trade were somewhat mixed at the time, and as Willis was never even remotely good after this point and the Marlins finished 10 games better than the Tigers in 2008, it made the trade look initially bad on Detroit's part. However, none of the prospects the Tigers gave up ever had any success with the Marlins (though one or two of them had some degree of success with other teams), while Cabrera would reach far greater heights than he had with the Marlins. Spending the next several years as the Tigers' first baseman, he made a few more all-star appearances and led the majors in batting average in 2011, and helped lead the Tigers to the playoffs that year. He moved to third base in 2012 to make room at first for Prince Fielder, who the Tigers had signed to a massive contract during the offseason. In that season, he hit .330 with 44 home runs and 139 RBI's, and became the first winner of the hitting Triple Crown (leading his league in batting average, home runs and runs batted-in/[=RBI=]s) since 1967, a feat that many had once thought was no longer possible in the modern game, due to batters becoming more specialized more in either hitting for average or power at the cost of the other. As a result, he won his first MVP handily, although many think that Mike Trout should have won it—Cabrera was certainly a better hitter than Trout that year, but Trout was a much better defender and a much faster baserunner. Incredibly, he did even better the following season in most of his statistics and looked like he might become the first back-to-back triple crown winner, but injuries at the end of the season limited his power greatly, and though he finished with a .348 batting average, 44 home runs, and 137 RBI's, he still fell well short of the triple crown, thanks to Chris Davis hitting 53 homers. He did still win his third consecutive batting title and second consecutive MVP award. He went on to win yet another batting title in 2015, despite suffering both lingering pain from an offseason ankle surgery and a midseason calf strain that put him on the disabled list for the first time in his career. As of the end of the 2017 season, he's the leading average hitter among active players, though only fractionally ahead of José Altuve (see below).
* '''Daisuke Matsuzaka''', former Boston Red Sox pitcher, is another Japanese player. An insanely dominant pitcher for the Seibu Lions who came to international prominence during the 2006 World Baseball Classic, he was offered $51 million by the Sox just to negotiate a contract, and somehow was the subject of hysterical rumors that he knew how to throw a mysterious pitch known as the "gyroball". He is nicknamed Dice-K, an Anglicized pronunciation of his first name and pun on the symbol scorekeepers use for a strikeout (the letter K).
** Later, Matsuzaka has earned infamy for being one of the biggest-name busts from the Japanese posting system. The Red Sox ended up forking over about $100 million for six years of a pitcher who has been above-average at best ('07 and '08) and downright painful at worst (not to mention frequently injured). After brief stints with the Indians and Mets, he ended up returning to Japan to pitch for the [=SoftBank=] Hawks.
* '''Joe Mauer''' of the Minnesota Twins is considered one of the best-hitting catchers in MLB history, having led the American League in batting average 3 times (2006, 2008, 2009), the most batting titles won by any catcher—in fact, it's just one fewer than the ''total'' number of batting titles won by every catcher in history that isn't Joe Mauer. He also won the 2009 AL MVP, a year when he had one of the best seasons any catcher has ever had at the plate, including the highest batting average by any catcher in the modern era (.365). He was often thought of as the second-best player in baseball (after Albert Pujols) when he was in his mid-20s. Due to injuries sustained from catching, the Twins moved him to playing full-time first base in 2014; unfortunately, he's been a shell of his former self ever since he went down with a concussion in 2013. Also notable for being something of a hometown hero, as he grew up in the Twin Cities and has spent his entire career (thus far) with Minnesota. Was one of the most marketable players in his prime, having been in commercials for Head & Shoulders and Sony's MLB ''The Show'' series. Well played, Mauer.
* '''Roger Angell''' is a longtime writer for ''Magazine/TheNewYorker'' magazine, whose reverently erudite essays on baseball (published sporadically since 1962 and later collected in numerous books) have led many to deem him the game's unofficial "poet laureate". In 2014 the Hall of Fame presented Angell with the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, the highest honor of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, making him the first non-beat writer (and first non-member of the BBWAA) to receive the honor.[[note]]BBWAA membership is limited to writers who have a regular baseball writing beat with a specific team, either with a newspaper or magazine or, in recent years, a website that has credentials to cover MLB postseason play. Since Angell never covered a specific team, he wasn't eligible for BBWAA membership.[[/note]]
* '''Josh Hamilton''' was a standout hitter best known for his time with the Texas Rangers. While he's been in the league in some form or another for a long time - he was taken by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays as the first overall pick in the 1999 draft, and reached the big leagues in 2007 after many years of struggles with drugs and alcohol - he really only started to get attention when he started playing for Texas in 2008 - his dominance at the plate is cited as one of the key factors in their 2010 turnaround. In the 2008 Home Run Derby, he hit a record 28 home runs in the first round, though the amazing performance ended up working against him; by the final round, he had tired himself out slugging so many home runs that he ended up losing to Justin Morneau (as the home run totals were reset for the finals). Early (and later) in his career, he's dealt with his addiction to alcohol - because of this, when the Rangers won the division and their two playoff series in 2010, they celebrated with ginger ale instead. After the season, Hamilton would be named the American League MVP for 2010. His reputation has been tarnished, however, due to a clumsy performance in the final game of the 2012 season against the Oakland Athletics- coming into the game, the Rangers and Athletics were tied for first in the American League West, and whichever team won the game would win the Division. In the 4th inning, he notably fumbled a ball that allowed in the runs that broke the then-tie between the Rangers and the Athletics, and the A's went on to win the game 12-5. After signing with the Los Angeles Angels just before 2013, he got off to a very bad start in his first season with them and though he started hitting better at the end, his final numbers were well below what he'd done with the Rangers. Just before the 2015 season, he suffered a relapse of his addiction, which, combined with his generally subpar performance during his time in Los Angeles, eventually led the Angels to trade him back to the Rangers for virtually nothing. Hamilton began to show some flashes of returning to his previous form in the last half of 2015, but missed the entire 2016 season after knee surgery; the Rangers ended up releasing him in late summer 2016. They resigned him to a minor league contract for 2017, but Hamilton hurt his knee again and the Rangers released him again without him ever playing another game for them.
* '''Justin Verlander''', who played his entire MLB career with the Detroit Tigers before being dealt to the Houston Astros at the 2017 deadline, was one of the best starting pitchers in the game in the late [=2000s=] and early [='10s=]. Though his poor performance in 2014 and early 2015 cast doubt on whether he could keep it up, he was able to quickly reestablish his status as an ace; by 2016 he once again led the American League in strikeouts. Playing for the Tigers, he pretty much walked away with the 2011 American League Cy Young by winning the Pitching Triple Crown: most wins (24), strikeouts (250) and lowest ERA (2.40). He was instrumental in the Tigers running away with the American League Central division title. He won the American League MVP award that season as well, which is seldom awarded to a pitcher because of strong feelings that it should go to an everyday player, and not one who plays every four or five days. He came within a hair of winning a second straight Cy Young in 2012, finishing second to Tampa Bay's David Price in the closest Cy Young vote since 1969. In 2016, he again came within a hair of winning a second Cy Young, finishing a close (and controversial) second to Rick Porcello of the Red Sox.
* '''Manny Ramirez''', over the course of his career, has been one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball, but also one of baseball's most unpredictable characters. His frequent mental lapses, both on and off the field, have cost his teams a game or two and have been referred to as "Manny being Manny". Most controversially, in the latter part of his career, he acquired a reputation for playing outstanding baseball his first few months with a new team, but at some point thereafter wearing out his welcome and resorting to childish outbursts and lackadaisical play until he's shipped off somewhere else. He twice tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs; after the second test, he chose to retire rather than face a 100-game suspension. [[TenMinuteRetirement Or not.]] He requested a reinstatement, and signed with yet another team (the Athletics), then another one (the Rangers), then joined the Cubs' AAA team in 2014 as a player/coach to mentor some of the Cubs' top prospects (and maybe have some chance of getting back to the Major Leagues, where he hasn't played since his 100-game suspension/retirement). He spent 2015 as a hitting consultant for the Cubs, and though he hasn't officially retired yet, it's looking more and more like his playing days are over. Is currently making yet another comeback attempt, with the Kochi Fighting Dogs of the Shikoku Island League Plus, an independent Japanese league.
* '''Yu Darvish''', pitcher of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is known for being the UsefulNotes/MichaelJordan of Japan. Yu started out as a top level prospect, with MLB teams scouting him in Junior High. However, he wanted to go with a Japanese baseball league instead. In Japan, Yu posted extraordinary numbers, with a 1.99 average ERA. At 25, he wanted to go to America, and the Texas Rangers won his services with a huge bid. He is known in MLB as having seven pitch types (in comparison, normal MLB pitchers have 3-5 pitch types). On April 2, 2013, he nearly threw a perfect game against the Astros, but it was broken up by the Astros' Marwin Gonzalez with 2 outs in the 9th inning. The question of his durability, however, is now somewhat up in the air, as he underwent Tommy John surgery just before the start of the 2015 season, didn't return until late May 2016, and was quickly put on the DL ''again'' from mid-June to mid-July 2016. He was traded from the Rangers to the Dodgers in July 2017.
* '''Mike Trout''' of the Los Angeles Angels is considered by many to be the best player in baseball. Trout made his major league debut late in the 2011 season, at the age of 19, and initially struggled, despite showing some impressive skills. He was not with the big league team team at the beginning of the 2012, receiving a call up to the majors about a month into the season. Trout proceeded to set the league on fire with his hitting, baserunning, and fielding abilities, finishing near the top in several offensive categories. Trout's fantastic season sparked a discussion at the end of the season. While Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera won the triple crown (finishing first in batting average, home runs, and RBI's, a feat that hadn't been accomplished in almost half a century), an argument using statistical analysis was made that Trout actually had the more valuable season, since his hitting numbers were close to Cabrera's, and Trout had the clearly outperformed Cabrera in fielding and baserunning. Cabrera wound up winning the MVP, with Trout taking a close second. However Trout was a unanimous selection for AL Rookie of the Year (his time in the big leagues in 2011 was too short to make him ineligible for the award). He's placed either first or second in the AL MVP voting every year since—he finished second to Cabrera again in 2013 and second to the Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson in 2015, and won the MVP in 2014 and 2016.
* '''Bryce Harper''', an outfielder for the Washington Nationals, made his debut in 2012, on the same day that Mike Trout was called up for the first time that year. While he had an impressive beginning to his career, he did tail off later in the year. Overall, however, he still had a good year - perhaps the best year ever for a 19-year-old - earning an All-Star selection and easily winning the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year. He has occasionally been compared to fellow young phenom outfielder Mike Trout - coming into 2012, Harper and Trout were widely considered the best prospects in the game and hailed for their incredible talents and potential. Like Trout, Harper possesses the tools to excel at all aspects of the game and has had success at a very young age. However, those comparisons didn't quite seem to hold up for their first few years in the league, when Trout put up otherworldly numbers while Harper wasn't able to get quite the same level out of his talent. He also suffered a few injury-related setbacks. That changed in 2015, when Harper had a historically great offensive season despite still only being 22 years old, winning the NL MVP and looking every bit as good as Trout - maybe even better. However, his performance ended up taking a massive step backwards in 2016, with him "only" being a somewhat above-average player that season. The first part of 2017 saw him return to his 2015 form. Has an interesting and [[LoveItOrHateIt polarizing]] reputation amongst fans and other players, particularly in 2016 after an interview where he made his intention use his career to shift the culture of baseball to allow for more personality and freedom of expression without the antiquated unwritten rules of the game getting in the way. Depending on your view of Harper, this painted him as somewhere in between a punk who [[SeriousBusiness dishonors the game]] and a [[BlitheSpirit well-needed breath of fresh air looking to shake up a sport that had gone stale.]] After his MVP season, views on him as a player range from HypeBacklash[[labelnote:*]]"This guy's not nearly as good as everyone keeps saying he is."[[/labelnote]] to WorthyOpponent[[labelnote:*]]"I don't like him[=/=][[TheRival his team]], but you gotta tip your cap to the guy."[[/labelnote]] and, to some managers, even TheDreaded[[labelnote:*]]When he's on his hotter streaks, some teams just avoid pitching to him altogether[[/labelnote]].
* '''Stephen Strasburg''', a starting pitcher for the Washington Nationals, made his debut in 2010. He was on his way to an impressive rookie year when damage to his elbow forced him to undergo surgical repair. He briefly returned at the end of 2011, then returned in full force in 2012 and was impressive again. However due to concerns about overtaxing his surgically repaired elbow so soon after the surgery, his season was ended early by management. This was controversial among the press and the fans, especially after the Nationals were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. However, time will tell if this will have been something that helped him in the long run; he had two solid seasons after that (despite a brief stint on the DL in 2013), but his career hit something of a nadir in the first half of 2015. Former Tigers star Max Scherzer was brought into D.C. on a long, lucrative contract, causing many to question whether the signing signaled a lack of faith in Strasburg to be the staff ace going forward.[[note]]The Nats' front office might have explained that they were already anticipating the loss of another of their young pitchers, Jordan Zimmermann, who was known to want to play closer to his home state of Wisconsin. They turned out to be right; Zimmermann received a massive contract in 2016 - ironically with the same Detroit Tigers team that had lost Scherzer to the Nationals the year before.[[/note]] Strasburg initially didn't do much to assuage those questions, with him spending large chunks of the season on the DL and woefully ineffective when he ''did'' pitch. This caused many to seriously begin questioning whether Strasburg would ever be able to reach and maintain the elite level expected of him when he was first drafted. However, he returned from his second 2015 DL stint having [[TookALevelInBadass taken a noticeable level in badass]]. In May of 2016 (his contract year), he [[DidntSeeThatComing somewhat shockingly]] signed a 7-year contract to stay in Washington.
* '''Max Scherzer''', another Washington Nationals starting pitcher, who as mentioned above joined the team in 2015 after having spent the earlier parts of his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Detroit Tigers. After some ups and downs in his earlier years, he started to put it all together with the Tigers in 2012 when he was 2nd in the league in strikeouts behind his teammate Justin Verlander, who Scherzer tended to live in the shadow of during Verlander's dominant run in the early 2010's. The next year, he improved further and made himself one of the best starters in the game, starting the season 13-0, ultimately leading the AL in wins, and being near the top in several other categories, which led to him winning the 2013 AL Cy Young Award for his efforts. Two years later, he joined the Nationals, and seemingly elevated his game to a new level, though some will note that his improved statistics may be partially because of slightly weaker competition thanks to the NL's lack of a DH. He threw two no-hitters in 2015, one of which was almost a perfect game except for a controversial hit batter with 2 outs in the 9th inning[[note]][[RuleOfCautiousEditingJudgement Some argue]] that the hit batter, Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder José Tabata, appeared to lean into the pitch a little. This is technically against the rules, but said rule is almost never enforced.[[/note]]. In 2016, he struck out 20 batters in one game, tying the record for strikeouts in a single 9-inning game—the feat was also previously achieved by Roger Clemens (twice), Kerry Wood, and arguably Randy Johnson[[note]]Johnson once struck out 20 batters in 9 innings, but the game went into extra innings after that[[/note]]. At season's end, he was awarded his second Cy Young Award, becoming just the sixth pitcher to win the award in both leagues. His power-pitching style and good control leads to him regularly being among the league leaders in both getting strikeouts and not allowing walks, but he also tends to allow a disproportionate amount of home runs on the rare occasions where the batters facing him make contact. He's also well known for his MismatchedEyes—his right eye is blue, and his left eye is brown.
* '''Buster Posey''' is the catcher for the San Francisco Giants. He was called up to the majors at the end of May 2010, and took off like a rocket, winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award and playing a major part in the Giants' World Series run and victory. His 2011 season was cut abruptly short, however, in a horrific collision at home plate in a game against the Marlins that left him with a broken leg and several torn ankle ligaments. His return to catching—even his ability to ever play at the same level he had played at before—was questioned. He returned to catching in 2012, and seemed to be preforming at a respectable level... until the second half of the season, where he ignited and proceeded to have one of the best seasons ever by a catcher. He finished with the highest batting average in ''the whole league'', making him the first catcher to lead the NL in batting average in 70 years, won the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award, and won the NL MVP Award by a ''landslide''. And the Giants won the World Series... again. Since then, his offense has remained consistently excellent, and he has continued to be one of the best catchers in the game (winning yet ''another'' series with the Giants in 2014).
* '''CC Sabathia''' began his pro career as a Cleveland Indian and began turning heads in the Major Leagues. Despite being a big man - looking overweight in his baseball uniform - Sabathia quickly proved to be an ace pitcher who could strike out a number of batters. Baseball experts also noticed how long he could last during each outing, regardless of him being [[{{Acrofatic}} twice as big as most starting pitchers]] who lose stamina and get tired during the nine innings. The experts began calling him a "workhorse" or an "innings eater" because of this. He had his most dominant year in 2007, where he quickly reached 1,000 strikeouts and ended up winning a Cy Young Award - being the second pitcher in franchise history to do so. The Cleveland Indians were able to build a competitive team around Sabathia's pitching and make a couple of playoff appearances. After failing to make it to the World Series, however, Sabathia eventually became too expensive and was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, leading them to their first playoff appearance in 26 years. However, they too would fail to reach the World Series, and Sabathia left after the season to become a free agent. He eventually got a 161 million dollar contract with the New York Yankees, becoming one of the most highly paid pitchers in baseball history. The Yankees didn't regret it, as he would lead them to a World Series title in 2009 with dominant pitching during the playoffs and was even named MVP of the ALCS that same year. Having been the best or second best pitcher on generally very good teams for his entire career, many predicted Sabathia to become the next (and possibly the last) pitcher to accumulate 300 lifetime wins, though his physical condition, workload, and more recent mediocre performances have cast doubt on this. Surprised everyone when he went on a [[FormerlyFat weight loss campaign]] that began in 2012, and as of 2014, Sabathia was the thinnest he's been his whole life. This didn't prevent him from having his worst season yet, as he's lost a bit of his fastball velocity and suffered many injuries to his legs. He regained weight in 2015, but was still unable to quite recapture his old magic; at the end of the regular season, he decided to check himself into rehab for alcoholism, shocking even insiders due to the fact that he had shown virtually no public symptoms beforehand. This seems to have done Sabathia some good, as he put up a solid (though not spectacular) performance in 2016.
* '''José Bautista''', an outfielder, spent the early part of his career going between a lot of different teams, frequently getting cut for bad performance. Then he joined the Blue Jays. The rest is history: "Joey Bats" became one of the best hitters in the game, leading MLB in home runs in 2010 and 2011. He didn't hit nearly as many in 2012 and 2013, though, as injuries prevented him from playing for several months, but he was still near the top before getting injured. He returned to being a solid and consistent player the next two seasons, managing to take first place on the Blue Jays all-time home run list in 2015 despite a lingering right shoulder injury (which still didn't stop him from playing in almost every game that year), but struggled to find his groove in 2016 (though he was still a solid player), and he's struggled with both injuries and underperformance again in 2017. Gained national headlines for his series-clinching three-run homer in the 2015 ALDS against the Texas Rangers. Many, however, remember his celebratory bat flip more than the home run itself, and the resulting debate about whether it was an appropriate piece of flair for such a CrowningMomentOfAwesome, or if it was UnsportsmanlikeGloating. The fallout from this incident carried over to the following season when the two teams played each other again. A Rangers pitcher [[BestServedCold threw a pitch into Bautista's back]], and on a subsequent play, Bautista responded with an aggressive slide into the second baseman (such a slide had been made ''illegal'' because of another incident in the 2015 postseason where a player had his leg broken). This resulted into a shoving match between Bautista and [[DavidVersusGoliath much smaller Rangers 2B Rougned Odor]], which escalated after Odor threw a solid right rook that caught Bautista flush and [[MemeticMutation quickly became fodder for internet humor]]. A bench-clearing brawl ensued.
* '''Félix Hernández''' is a pitcher who has spent his entire career thus far with the Seattle Mariners. Since his breakout season in 2009, he has become one of the best pitchers in the game, winning the AL Cy Young award in 2010 and throwing a perfect game in 2012. He routinely ends up in the top 5 of most pitching statistics, with the notable exception of Wins. Because the Mariners have had some of the worst hitters in baseball for several years, he often fails to win games in which he pitched well simply because the Mariners don't score many runs, and has a reputation for often losing games by scores like 1-0 and 4-2 (though [[ThrowTheDogABone he occasionally also wins some of those games 1-0 or 4-2]]). Because of this, he had a win-loss of record of 13-12 when he won the Cy Young Award in 2010 (the worst win-loss record any Cy Young-winning starting pitcher has ever had). He is known for usually being incredibly consistent in his performance- he broke a somewhat obscure record in 2014 by going 16 straight starts with at least 7 innings pitched while allowing 2 runs or fewer in each start. He hasn't been his usual self since around mid-2015 though, thanks in part to some lingering injury issues.
* '''David Price''', currently of the Boston Red Sox, is another one of the best starting pitchers in the game. He started his career with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, pitching a few games for them late in the season and in the playoffs. He showed great promise in the 2008 ACLS, where he won the deciding game from the bullpen and helped the Rays reach their first World Series by defeating the Boston Red Sox, but they ended up losing the series to the Philadelphia Phillies. He became a full-time starter in 2009. Over the next four years, David Price cemented himself as the Rays' best pitcher, quickly taking over that title from "Big Game" James Shields, the best starter on the Rays staff in 2007-09. In 2010, he was in the running for a Cy Young Award with CC Sabathia and Félix Hernández. As mentioned above, Hernández ended up winning despite a poor win-loss record caused by the Mariners' historically awful hitters, which the voters didn't blame him for. Price had a solid but not quite Cy Young-caliber year in 2011, and also surrendered Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit. In 2012, David Price had his most dominant year. He won 20 games - becoming the first pitcher in franchise history to do so—and had the lowest ERA of the American League with 2.54. He finally won the Cy Young Award at the end of the year, beating Justin Verlander by one vote. He continued to be dominant over the next few years, and the small-revenue Rays started to have difficulty affording his contract, leading to frequent trade rumors surrounding him. He ultimately was traded to the Tigers in 2014, giving the Tigers a starting rotation with 3 Cy Young winners (Price, Justin Verlander, and Max Scherzer; Scherzer has since left for the Nationals, while Price, despite still being good, was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays just before the 2015 deadline). After the 2015 season, the Red Sox signed him to a seven-year, $217 million contract, the largest for a pitcher in MLB history. His time in Boston has gone a bit less well than hoped, though, with Price struggling to live up to expectations, getting into occasional spats with the Boston media, and having some elbow problems.
* '''Johan Santana''' is a pitcher who was a huge part of the Minnesota Twins' success in the mid-[=2000s=]. During those years, he was one of the best pitchers in the game, winning Cy Young Awards in 2004 and 2006 and coming close to winning another in 2005. He was traded to the Mets in 2008, and has since become an injury magnet, missing large parts of almost every season he spent with the Mets (and all of 2011 and 2013), although he did become the first pitcher in Mets history to throw a no-hitter in 2012. His luck hasn't gotten any better after becoming a free agent, having had season-ending injuries with both the Orioles in 2014 and Blue Jays in 2015 after signing minor league contracts with them. Santana hasn't officially retired yet, but his playing days look like they're over.
* '''Cliff Lee''' is a free agent pitcher who last played for the Philadelphia Phillies. He came up with the Indians, and had a few ups and downs before cementing himself as one of the best left-handed pitchers in the game with his Cy Young-winning season in 2008, with 22 wins, 2.54 ERA, and 170 Strikeouts. He has a reputation as one of the best pitchers in the postseason: In the first 7 postseason games he pitched, he went 7-0 and allowed just 9 runs in total. On account of the struggles of many of his teams, he was a human trade rumor in his prime, and was at one point traded 3 times in the span of about a year (from the Indians to the Phillies in July 2009, from the Phillies to the Mariners in December 2009, and from the Mariners to the Rangers in July 2010). For a long time, some fans would joke that trading him was cursed, because in each of those three trades, the minor-league players gotten in return for him failed to accomplished much at the major league level- at least, not until 2014, when Carlos Carrasco (part of the Indians/Phillies trade mentioned above) became a pretty good starting pitcher for the Indians, 5 years after they traded for him. When he returned to the Phillies, he was still solid to excellent whenever he actually took the mound, but his career has been derailed by injuries, to the point where he hasn't pitched since mid-2014. He hasn't officially retired yet, but at this point he looks unlikely to return.
* '''David Freese''', currently a third baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates, was a true [[AHeroToHisHometown Hero to His Hometown]] during his days as a UsefulNotes/StLouis Cardinal, having grown up in a suburb just a few miles from their stadium. He's best remembered for his amazing performance in the 2011 NLCS and World Series that won him the MVP of both series. In particular, he's remembered for the game-tying triple he hit in game 6, [[DownToTheLastPlay with 2 outs and 2 strikes in the bottom of the ninth and the Cardinals down by two]], and the walk-off home run he hit two innings later. While he hasn't able to regain his previous level of success since the Cardinals traded him to the Los Angeles Angels in 2013, he's still been a relatively solid player overall.
* '''Brian Wilson''', who spent most of his career as a closer for the San Francisco Giants, is known to a certain degree for his pitching, which has sent him to several all-star games and the Giants to a World Series victory. However, he's probably much better known for his [[{{Cloudcuckoolander}} general weirdness]] and for having one of the most [[BadassBeard epic beards]] in baseball. He signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2013, but was released in 2014 after being unable to replicate his previous success there, and hasn't pitched professionally since. [[NamesTheSame Not]] [[Music/BrianWilson a member of]] Music/TheBeachBoys.
* '''Yadier Molina''' has been catching for the St. Louis Cardinals since 2004. He was long widely regarded as the best defensive catcher in the game, in part for his great skill at throwing out opposing base-stealers and also for his above-average ability to frame pitches (defined above in the discussion of Mike Piazza). His offense was a bit more inconsistent, though later in his career he developed into a solid offensive player. Even for a catcher, he's a very slow runner- to the point that his speed (or lack thereof) is constantly [[MemeticMutation joked about]] by fans and sportswriters alike. Though his value as a framer has taken a sharp dive since the 2013 season (due to both age-related decline and better framers coming into the game), he's managed to remain an above-average catcher.
* '''Billy Beane''' is the Oakland Athletics' General Manager, as well as a former major league outfielder. Entering the sport with high expectations due to his high school success, he performed poorly for most of his professional career, barely qualifying for a major league spot, and ultimately retired at the age of 27, accepting a job with the A's in the front office. Constrained heavily by Oakland's small budget, he constantly has to come up with ways to find players that are being undervalued by the rest of the league for Oakland to compete. He's mostly been successful, particularly during the early [=2000s=], when Oakland was practically the only team to embrace sabermetric principles, where they had 4 straight playoff appearances. His job got a lot harder when the rest of the league copied his ideas, but he's actively working to find other ways to stay ahead of the game, and still has been able to give Oakland a few surprisingly competitive seasons, though he's also made some less-than-stellar moves along the way, notably trading away star third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2014-15 offseason for an underwhelming package of prospects, only to watch Donaldson win the AL MVP the following year and lead Toronto to their first postseason appearance in 23 years. Creator/BradPitt played him in ''Film/{{Moneyball}}'', a movie that followed the A's 2002 season.
* '''Theo Epstein''' was one of the first general managers of a big market team to copy Beane's ideas. He was first hired by the Red Sox in 2002 at the ripe old age of 28, shortly after an unsuccessful attempt by the Red Sox to hire Beane himself. Epstein's use of sabermetrics combined with a much bigger budget than the A's had an immediate impact on the Red Sox, and they won the World Series for the first time in 86 years in 2004. Following a disappointing season in 2011 that saw the Red Sox suffer one of the biggest late-season collapses in history and fall one game short of the playoffs, Epstein left the team to join the Chicago Cubs. Not content with ending just one baseball "curse," Epstein spent the next few years rebuilding the team from the ground up and in 2016, the Cubs had their first 100-win season in more than 100 years, made the World Series for the first time since 1945, and won it for the first time since 1908.
* '''Prince Fielder''' was the Texas Rangers' designated hitter until being forced to "retire" (explanation for the quote marks below) during the 2016 season due to recurring neck injuries. He started out as a first baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers, then signed a massive contract with the Detroit Tigers in 2012 and played there for two years before being traded to the Rangers in the 2013–14 offseason. Fielder was famous for hitting lots of home runs, usually topping 40 and reaching 50 in 2007, when he was still with the Milwaukee Brewers. Unusually for power hitters, he also usually hit for decent batting averages and walked more often than he struck out. He was also famous for being one of the fattest players in the game; in the book ''{{Film/Moneyball}}'', he's described as being "too fat even for the A's," a very rare thing at the time; he very briefly flirted with vegetarianism in his pro career in an attempt to lose weight. As he wasn't a very {{Acrofatic}} player, he was a slow runner and a bad defender, even at first base, which makes his last name somewhat of a misnomer. (A name, which, incidentally, he inherited from his father Cecil Fielder, who was a well-known slugger in his own right.) A neck injury caused him to miss most of the 2014 season, and injury concerns and his defensive shortcomings led the Rangers to mostly move him off first base and make him their full-time DH when he returned in 2015. He bounced back from the injury well, hitting much like his old self and winning the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award. Sadly, his neck problems returned in 2016, forcing him to undergo a more serious operation. When he was told by team doctors he wouldn't be cleared to play again, he called time on his MLB career. (He didn't formally retire because if he did so, [[MoneyDearBoy he'd give up the $100 million left on his contract]]; since he's unable to play for medical reasons, he will continue to be paid.) Prince ended up with the same career home run total as his father: 319.
* '''Ryan Braun''' is an outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers. A few years ago, before his issues with [=PEDs=] surfaced and injuries cost him some of his power, many argued he was the best hitter in the game, or at least in the top 5, routinely having some of the best statistics in just about every major offensive category. He won the MVP award in 2011... and almost immediately after, it was leaked that he failed a drug test, although the accompanying suspension was overturned on what some view as a technicality. He was also one of the players named in connection to the Biogenesis scandal in the 2012-13 offseason, although like everyone else involved, he flatly denied that this meant he was using steroids; he ultimately accepted a 65-game suspension and made an admission of wrongdoing around the same time the Brewers lost any hope for the 2013 season. His multiple steroid connections and lack of punishment made people consider him either a big KarmaHoudini or an innocent man who was the victim of multiple bad coincidences — at least until, as mentioned above, he was finally officially caught and suspended for his connection to Biogenesis. His 2014 season was his worst yet, thanks to a thumb injury that necessitated surgery at the end of the season, but his offense largely recovered in the following seasons, despite a back injury which necessitated ''another'' end-of-the-season surgery in 2015.
* '''Clayton Kershaw''' of the Los Angeles Dodgers is considered by many to be the best pitcher in the game right now. And the statistics appear to back up this claim: He leads all active starting pitchers with a career ERA of 2.43, has more career strikeouts than innings pitched (both are slightly over 1500), almost four times as many career strikeouts as career walks, and he won the pitching triple crown and Cy Young Award in 2011. To be fair, he does pitch a lot of games in the pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium, but even accounting for that, no other active starter comes close to his numbers. His curveball, dubbed "Public Enemy No. 1" by Vin Scully, is so good that it became a minor story when he allowed a home run off it in May 2014, since he hadn't allowed a home run off it in ''almost 5 years.'' And he's still pretty young and seems to be getting even better; He followed his Cy Young season by leading the National League in ERA again in 2012 and 2013, winning a second Cy Young in 2013 thanks largely to an amazing ''1.83'' ERA. He did even better than that in 2014, leading the NL in ERA for the fourth year in a row and winning the Cy Young and the MVP—even though he was injured for the first month of the season! Signed a 7-year, $215 million deal in January 2014, making him the highest-paid player in the game on a per-season basis. He threw one of the best-pitched games in baseball history against the Rockies on June 18, 2014, striking out 15 batters in a no-hitter that would have been a perfect game if not for an error by Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramírez. In 2015, he became the first pitcher with 300 strikeouts in a season since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling both reached the mark in 2002, although his 4-year streak of leading the entire MLB in ERA was broken, as he finished third to Zack Greinke and Jake Arrieta. He seemed like he was getting ''even better'' for the first few months of 2016, for a while looking like he'd break the single season record for Strikeouts per Walk, but then he missed two months with a back injury.
* '''Robinson Canó''' was the New York Yankees' second baseman until he signed a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners in the 2013-14 offseason. Following the beginning of Alex Rodriguez's decline from his age and injuries in 2009-10, Cano became generally regarded as the Yankees' best player, and possibly the best second baseman in the game, thanks to his great defensive skills and power numbers that would be impressive even if he wasn't a middle infielder. He had a CrowningMomentOfAwesome at the 2011 Home Run Derby, winning and breaking the record for most home runs hit in the Final Round with several outs to spare. It also counted as a CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming, as he was being pitched to by his dad, a once minor league pitcher who never quite made it to the big leagues. Canó was named the AL Captain of the next two derbies, but didn't have nearly as much success, and was booed relentlessly by Kansas City Royals fans at the 2012 Derby (in Kansas City) for not picking any Royals to go to the derby when he originally said he would. He had a rough first half of 2015 thanks in part to acid reflux, but managed to recover his mojo in the second half despite a sports hernia, and seems to have mostly bounced back in 2016.
* '''Joey Votto''' is the Cincinnati Reds' first baseman. The {{Canad|aEh}}ian has been on almost everyone's short list of the best hitters in baseball since his 2010 MVP season, although he also somehow manages to be a bit more obscure and underrated than one would expect. He ends up in debates about sabermetrics a lot, thanks to his high walk totals that have given him a career .428 on-base percentage (the highest of any active player). Because of his great plate discipline and frequent walks, some, including his former manager Dusty Baker, have criticized him for not being aggressive enough and not driving in enough runs for a middle-of-the-order hitter, even though he usually puts up decent RBI totals and has hit 100 [=RBIs=] twice. In addition, as sabermetricians will point out, he probably contributes more runs by getting on base as often as possible at the cost of a few home runs rather than swinging for the fences on pitches well outside the strike zone like some seem to want him to, and his [=RBIs=] are largely dependent on the hitters before him getting on anyway.
* '''Troy Tulowitzki''' is best known for his career as the Colorado Rockies' shortstop. He was perhaps the best power-hitter in the game among shortstops, a position that typically lacks power (especially after the end of the steroid era) and this, combined with his amazing defense, has caused him to be widely considered one of the best shortstops, if not the best shortstop, in the game. Sadly, he's also frequently injured, playing in more than 150 games in one year only twice, and as some of his detractors will note, his power numbers are partially a product of the immensely power-hitter-friendly Coors Field. He gained a small amount of internet fame in 2013 when a gif of a line drive he hit being caught thanks to an amazingly quick reaction from Marlins pitcher José Fernández [[MemeticMutation circulated around for a while]]. A few days before the 2015 trade deadline, he was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays, due to the Rockies being last place in their division. So far his time with the Blue Jays hasn't gone as well as hoped, with Tulowitzki performing well under the level he'd played at when he was with Colorado.
* '''Yasiel Puig''' is a Cuban outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers. After signing a large 6-year contract with them in 2012, he began to tear up the low minor leagues and had an absolutely incredible 2013 spring training that probably would have led to a big league call-up if the Dodgers hadn't already had three highly-paid all-star outfielders in Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier. He continued destroying minor league pitching and eventually ended up in the big leagues in June following some injuries in the Dodgers' outfield. He proceeded to crush major league pitching almost as much as he had crushed minor league pitching, hitting over .400 in his first month, and came very close to getting an all-star selection despite only playing for about a month before the 2013 all-star game. He continued to go on a tear in 2014, but his 2015 season was completely derailed thanks to hamstring issues, and a resurgence of those issues in 2016 plus his reputation as a bit of a slacker and a [[JerkAss "bad clubhouse presence"]] led to a brief demotion to the minors, and the Dodgers even tried (unsuccessfully) to trade him a few times. His raw talent and incredible speed and power are a sight to behold, and he often puts his talents to good use - but he also makes frequent mental errors on the bases and in the field, overthrowing infielders by 10 feet almost as much as he makes incredible plays to get people out. He also gets some hate from other players for infractions of the "unwritten rules of baseball", like his exaggerated bat flips on home runs, and his part in the Dodgers' celebration of their 2013 NL West Title—they clinched it with a win against the Arizona Diamondbacks and celebrated in Arizona's pool just beyond the outfield wall after the game.
* '''Andrew [=McCutchen=]''' is an outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates who has been one of the best players in the National League, with the tools to excel at virtually every aspect of the game (even if his fielding isn't what it used to be). In 2013, he won the NL MVP and led the Pirates to their first playoff berth and first winning season since 1992, ending what had been the longest streak of consecutive losing seasons in the history of MLB - or any other major sport. He was also well-known for his long dreadlocks, until he had them all cut off for a charity auction before the 2015 season. This among other charitable acts, as well as having another great season in 2015, resulted in him winning the Roberto Clemente Award, one of the most prestigious awards in professional baseball (Roberto Clemente being a legendary Pittsburgh Pirate himself just makes the award even more special). He had an uncharacteristically bad year in 2016, which along with some pitching injuries led to the Pirates missing the playoffs after winning a wild card spot the previous 3 years. His struggles continued at the start of 2017, but a few months into the season, he finally turned it around and started hitting like he had in previous years (though his fielding and base-stealing abilities have sadly not returned).
* '''Aroldis Chapman''', currently of the New York Yankees ([[HesBack again]]), is best known for his time as the Cincinnati Reds' closer. He currently holds the world record for the fastest fastball, having reached velocities as high as 106 MPH, and often throws over 100 (in fact, MLB's website had to add a special filter to their fastest pitches leaderboard due to the fact that almost all of the top 50+ have been thrown by Chapman). His high fastball velocity has made him one of the best in the game at striking people out, retiring nearly half the batters he faces that way, an insanely high number even for a relief pitcher. In early 2016, MLB gave him a 30-day suspension for a domestic violence incident that occurred in October 2015 during which he, among other things, shot a wall with a handgun 8 times in anger. That didn't prevent the Yankees from acquiring him from the struggling Reds during the 2015-2016 offseason. With free agency looming, the Yankees dealt him to the Cubs during the 2016 season, where he helped them break their "curse"; after the end of the season, he signed a big deal to return to the Yankees.
* '''Giancarlo Stanton''', formerly Mike Stanton, [[note]]Michael is his middle name- he went by "Mike" until 2012[[/note]] is the Miami Marlins' right fielder. Known mainly for his incredible power, hitting lots of home runs and hitting most of them very, very far- he led the NL in Home Runs in 2014 despite playing in one of the largest ballparks in the MLB half the time, and since his debut in 2010, he's hit more homers than any other player in the NL despite both the unfavorable conditions of his ballpark and frequent injuries costing him playing time. In the 2014-2015 offseason, he signed a 13-year, $325 million contract with the Marlins, both the longest and the most expensive contract in baseball history (though not the highest by average salary per year), which came as a surprise to some, given the usual penny-pinching tendencies of Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and Stanton's previous public disagreements with the franchise (on account of Loria's penny-pinching, they rarely ever spent money trying to field a decent team and occasionally went through fire sales, most notably a series of trades in 2012 that saw the Marlins trade virtually every player they had making any amount of money). However, it's since come out that the new contract is heavily backloaded—the Marlins are on the hook for "only" $30 million in the first three years of the deal, and for $77 million for the next three, after which Stanton has an option to opt out. He put on an amazing show in the 2016 Home Run Derby with 61 home runs across 3 rounds, shattering the old record for most home runs in the derby. And then in 2017, he became the first of two players to join the 50-homer club that season, falling just short of entering the 60-homer club (59).
* '''Buck Showalter''' is the current manager of the Baltimore Orioles. A former minor league player for New York Yankee Affiliated teams, and since the early 90s, a manager for the New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers, and in-between those, and baseball analyst for ESPN he was hired by the Orioles in the middle of the 2010 season. As this was during the O's DorkAge (an age where fans were abandoning the team, and holding the "Free the Birds" walk out movements to protests Peter Angelos' poor ownership of the team), he had a rather large task in front of him. He immediately got to work as he coached the worst team in the league at the time, and finished their season with 34 wins of 57 games played under him. Additionally, he made it clear to the team and fans, consistent under performance would have you on the bus to the AAA Norfolk Minor League team until your skills improved. His first full season with the O's in 2011 was another rebuilding year, capping it off with the now famous "Game 162", on September 28th, 2011, "The Best Night of Baseball" where the last place in division O's knocked their rivals the Boston Red Sox out of the playoffs on their last game of the season. This fired up both the team, and fan base for the next season. And it showed as in 2012, the Dork Age officially ended, with the O's securing a Wildcard playoff, knocking out the Texas Rangers, before losing to the Yankees in the playoffs. 2013 was another winning season above .500 win average, and 2014 Showalter managed the team to a dominating 96-66 Win-Lose Record as the AL East champions, preventing the playoff regular Yankees from even making it to the playoffs and receiving the American League Manager of the Year award. If you need any further proof of how popular and successful he's been, fans cheer him on just as much as the players, with chants and signs of "The BUCK stops here!" and "[=BUCKle=] Up!"
* '''Johnny Cueto''', currently a starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, was the ace for the Cincinnati Reds in the early [=2010s=]. While other ace pitchers got more press, Cueto quietly emerged as one of the most dominant pitchers for the National League. In 2012 he won 19 games and had an ERA of 2.78. Got off to a good start in 2013 before going on the DL because of a back injury. But came back strong in 2014 by winning 20 games with an ERA of 2.25, the first pitcher in franchise history to do so since 1988. These would normally be CY Young worthy numbers, but Cueto, unfortunately, is also a victim of AlwaysSecondBest. Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher in the game from 2011-2014 is also a National League pitcher and produced better numbers in 2012 and 2014, leaving Cueto to finish second in wins and the ERA title in both years. Fortunately, his great year in 2014 was recognized by his baseball peers and he won a GIBBY award for best bounce back player after an injury. Cueto is known for his pitching delivery, in which he does an almost 180 degree turn of his upper body so batters have a hard time reading him. This pitching motion, however, is what caused his back injury in 2013 and time will tell if he's able to keep doing it in the years to come. In the middle of the 2015 season, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals due to the struggling Reds needing to rebuild; though he struggled to pitch consistently well for his new team in the second half of the 2015 regular season, he would prove to be a vital piece of the Royals' starting rotation in the postseason, where he helped led the team to a World Series Championship with quality pitching, especially in World Series Game 2, where he pitched a complete game two-hitter against the New York Mets.
* '''Madison Bumgarner''' is a starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. An imposing left-hander with a deceptively easy delivery, Bumgarner was mostly known for two things - being the junior member of the heralded Giants rotation (he debuted in the majors at the age of 20 and pitched in the World Series[[note]]very well, throwing 8 shutout innings for a Game 4 win[[/note]] as a 21 year-old rookie), and for being the ''second''-best left-handed pitcher in the NL West division, overshadowed by [[AlwaysSomeoneBetter the downright unbelievable Clayton Kershaw]]. However, Bumgarner achieved national prominence in 2014 when, with the rest of the Giants' once-vaunted pitching staff in tatters around him, he put the Giants on his back and carried them to a championship. His overall postseason stats - 52.5 innings with a 1.03 ERA, 45 strikeouts to 6 walks - were some of the [[http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2014/10/madison_bumgarner_world_series_just_one_pitcher_in_baseball_history_had.html greatest in baseball history]], and he emphatically cemented his case by coming into the deciding Game 7 as a reliever, on two days' rest[[note]]The modern standard is 4 days in between games.[[/note]] and throwing five shutout innings for the win. His postseason stats as a whole are impressive- He has a 2.14 career postseason ERA- but his World Series stats are absolutely insane. In 36 innings over 5 World Series games in 2010, 2012, and 2014, Bumgarner has allowed a grand total of ''one'' run, good for an 0.25 ERA. Also notable as one of the best hitting pitchers of recent years—his home run stats since 2013 would project to 30-plus homers over a full season. In fact, on June 30, 2016, with the Giants set to meet their cross-Bay rivals, the A's, in Oakland with Bumgarner starting, Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced that the team would not use a DH[[note]](since the game was in Oakland, AL rules, with the DH, would be used)[[/note]] and let Bumgarner bat for himself. This would be the first time in ''40 years'' that a team deliberately chose to let a pitcher hit instead of a DH.[[note]]The only other time in that period that a team had a pitcher hitting instead of a DH (Andy Sonnenstine for the Rays in 2009) was because of a lineup card mixup.[[/note]] The move worked–Bumgarner doubled in his first at-bat of the night, leading to a 6-run third inning for the Giants. Spent about half of the 2017 season on the DL because of a shoulder injury he got when he crashed his dirt bike.
* '''[=RA=] Dickey''' is currently a starting pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. He was drafted in the first round of 1996 for the Texas Rangers before a medical exam discovered his throwing arm completely lacked an ulnar collateral ligament (he was either born without one, or it was weak enough to have withered away in his youth). This mystified doctors, who said he should be experiencing intense pain from merely turning a door-knob, let alone pitching a baseball. In the end, the Rangers still signed him, but at a drastically reduced price ($75,000 instead of $810,000). Their expectation was that he would quickly suffer an injury and retire. That didn't happen, but, he had an underwhelming early career until he decided in 2005 the only way to stay competitive was to develop into a knuckleball pitcher. It took years for him to perfect the pitch, during which he was passed around various teams, including the occasional stay in the minors, but he ended his first full season for the New York Mets in 2011 with an ERA of 3.28, which was 12th best in the entire National League. His performance peaked in 2012 when he became the first and only knuckleball pitcher to win the Cy Young award and finished the year with an ERA of 2.73. After this, he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, where his performance sort of leveled off from spectacular "ace"-level numbers to an ERA averaging around 4.00, resulting in him signing with the rebuilding Braves for the 2017 season. He's still notable as one of ''only two'' pitchers currently in the major leagues to use a knuckleball as their primary pitch (the other being Steven Wright of the Boston Red Sox). He is very much OneOfUs, and uses either the [[Franchise/StarWars Imperial March]] or the opening to ''Series/GameOfThrones'' as his warm-up music. At age 40, he became the oldest player to make a postseason debut when he pitched as a starter for the Toronto Blue Jays in the fourth game of the American League division series against the Texas Rangers.
* '''Jake Arrieta''', the ace starting pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, struggled heavily during his earlier years with the Baltimore Orioles. He on occasion displayed a great amount of talent, but the results were poor, with an ERA of close to 6.00 during his time in Baltimore. After being traded to the Cubs in 2013, though, he improved immensely. He developed a very good cut fastball after being discouraged from throwing the pitch with Baltimore (the Orioles believe cut fastballs lead to a greater chance of injury, and so tell their developing pitchers not to throw them), and almost immediately went from a terrible pitcher to a decent one, and then, in 2015, a great one, reaching amazing heights in the second half of the season and allowing an ERA of just 0.75 after the All-Star break (1.77 overall), winning the NL Cy Young Award in the process. He continued his dominance at the start 2016 - in fact, over a 31-start stretch dating from the end of June 2015 to the end of May 2016, he had an ERA of 1.09, 25 wins, and ''more no-hitters (2) than losses (1)!'' Even better, in the last half of 2015, he ''hit'' more home runs (2) than he gave up (1). However, since mid-2016, Arrieta seems to have faltered a bit, and while still a good player hasn't been nearly as good as he was in 2015.
* '''Bartolo Colón''', currently a starting pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, is currently the oldest active player in baseball and the longest-active pitcher, having pitched since 1997. He was a moderately successful pitcher early in his career, pitching for the Cleveland Indians, Montreal Expos[[note]]He's also the last active player in baseball who played for the Expos[[/note]], Chicago White Sox, and Anaheim Angels between 1997 and 2005, and making a few all-star appearances. He won the 2005 AL Cy Young Award, although many think he only got that award because he led the league in wins, a generally poor indicator of pitcher performance - most other pitching statistics would say he was good that year, but not the best pitcher in the league, and maybe not even the best pitcher on his own team. In any case, his career was sadly derailed for a few years after that by arm injuries, and he struggled to pitch well or stay on the field. He then successfully made a comeback with the Yankees in 2011, not quite returning to his old skill level but pitching effectively nonetheless. In years since, he's remained a fairly average pitcher (though that's actually kind of impressive considering that almost 90% of his pitches are 84-91 mph fastballs, meaning that he relies almost exclusively on his ability to locate pitches), but he's been much more famous for his excessive weight (which nonetheless hasn't stopped him from being a surprisingly effective fielder who provides his fair share of defensive highlights) and (ever since his 2014-2016 stint with the New York Mets) his comical plate appearances, where he frequently flails wildly at pitches and swings hard enough to make his helmet fall off. His goofy swings were once half-jokingly cited by Rob Manfred as a good reason to not bring the DH to the National League, because that would rob fans of the entertainment of watching Bartolo try to hit. Although he's usually been pretty terrible at the plate, he occasionally gets decent results, and he managed to hit his first big league home run on May 7, 2016, a few weeks shy of his 43rd birthday, the oldest age ever at which a player hit his first big league home run.
* '''Jaime Jarrín''': The most famous baseball broadcaster you've never heard of... unless you speak Spanish. Born in Ecuador, he came to the US shortly before his 20th birthday having never seen a baseball game. He soon rose to become news and sports director for a Spanish-language station in Los Angeles, just in time for the Dodgers to arrive in 1958 and his station to pick up the team's Spanish radio rights. Jarrín joined the Spanish broadcast team the next year, became the lead Spanish announcer in 1973, and has remained with the Dodgers to this day. Like his English-language counterpart Vin Scully, he's a Frick Award recipient. Now [[InTheBlood paired with his son Jorge]] in the broadcast booth.
* '''Kris Bryant''' of the Chicago Cubs is primarily a third baseman, though he also plays in the outfield. He has been getting attention for his amazing power since being picked 2nd in the draft by the Chicago Cubs in 2013 and has drawn many accolades for it: Over 4 consecutive years, he won the Golden Spikes Award (given annually to the top college baseball player in the United States), then the Minor League Player of the Year Award (more or less what it sounds like), then the NL Rookie of the Year, then the NL MVP (no other player ever even won all 4 of those awards at all, much less in consecutive years). Along with several other star players, Bryant was instrumental in ending the Cubs' 108-year World Series drought in 2016.
* '''José Altuve''' plays second base for the Houston Astros. At 5 feet, 6 inches tall[[labelnote:*]]1.68 meters, in metric[[/labelnote]], Altuve is the shortest currently active player in baseball, and some doubted whether someone his size could succeed at the big league level. He had some initial struggles, but since 2014 has become one of the best players in the game, twice leading the AL in batting average, to go along with lots of stolen bases and packing [[PintsizedPowerhouse a pretty good amount of power for a second baseman.]] His development into a superstar has helped the Astros become a perennial playoff contender after years of being a laughingstock. His short stature has been fodder for quite a few memes over the years, and led to some baseball fans using his height as a unit of measurement called an "Altuve" (for example, Randy Johnson, at 6' 10" tall, could have his height expressed as 1.24 Altuves).
* '''Aaron Judge''', currently the tallest position player[[note]]i.e., not a pitcher[[/note]] in baseball at 6'7" (2.01 m, or 1.20 Altuves), plays right field for the Yankees. He made his MLB debut as a late-season call-up in 2016, but missed the last three weeks of the season with an injury. Judge burst onto the national scene in his rookie season in 2017, putting up MVP-level numbers for the first half of the season and breaking Joe [=DiMaggio's=] team record for homers in a rookie season ''before the All-Star break''. He was chosen as an All-Star starter, and also won the Home Run Derby on the night before the game. He fell into a slump for about a month after the break, but eventually adjusted well enough to become the first rookie ever to his 50 homers in a season. Best known for prodigious power; besides hitting 50 dingers as a rookie, he twice set records for exit velocity of a batted ball. He also became the first player in over 60 years to collect 100 walks as a rookie, but also struck out more than 200 times (placing him in the top 10 in MLB history for single-season strikeouts by a batter).
* '''Adrián Beltré''' is a third baseman for the Texas Rangers. One of the longest-tenured players in baseball, he's been around since 1998, when he came up with the Dodgers as a 19-year-old. Though he was generally well-regarded for his solid offense and great defense earlier in his career with the Dodgers, Mariners, and Red Sox, he didn't really hit his stride until he joined the Rangers in 2011, and has generally excelled for them ever since. Even with his ups-and-downs earlier in his career, he still has some very impressive career statistics, and he got his 3000th hit in 2017. Despite his impressive career statistics, he only has 4 all-star appearances, on account of his inconsistencies early in his career and [[OvershadowedByAwesome having to share the spotlight with a lot of other great third basemen]] late in his career. He's also never won an MVP award, although he's been in contention for one a few times; notably, in 2004, his last year with the Dodgers, he put up numbers that would ordinarily be easily good enough to win the award, had Barry Bonds not been producing statistics that were utterly insane at the same time. A renowned bad-ball hitter, Beltré has frequently been known to swing very hard at low pitches, sometimes falling on one knee during his follow through while he hits the ball well over the fence. One of just a few currently active players considered a lock for the Hall of Fame as soon as he retires. He's also generally considered among the nicest and friendliest players in the game, and is well known for his epic bromance with Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus. [[BerserkButton Does not like being touched on the top of his head.]]

[[folder:Teams to Know in MLB]]
The teams of Major League Baseball now have [[UsefulNotes/MLBTeams their own page.]]

[[folder:The Minor Leagues]]
To get to the Majors, most players (with the exception of people coming over from Japan's league and occasionally a rare prodigy) have to go through time in the Minor Leagues, lower leagues in smaller cities where every team is made up of players who are the property of a major league club. More information can be found [[UsefulNotes/MinorLeagueBaseball on its own page]].


'''[[WMG:The rest of North American baseball]]'''
There are also other layers of Ball in North America as well.
* The '''Independent Leagues''' are like the minor leagues, but they are not connected to the Major League teams, so instead they hire their own players (usually at a lower salary than even a Minor Leaguer). Although generally this is a "last gasp" place where has-beens and never-will-bes go to die, some players will get signed by affiliated clubs after playing in Indy leagues, even occasionally making it to the majors, and on occasion a major player will play for a Independent team during a salary dispute or to prove that a injury wasn't as serious as thought. Because of the low level of play, Independent teams often make up for it with over-the-top promotions and giveaways, although this is also common for many Minor League teams.
* '''College Baseball''' is not followed even close to as much as its Basketball and Football counterparts. There are a few reasons for this. For one, many top prospects are drafted from High School. Second, all but the very, very, very, best Collegiate players will still have to go through a few years of the minor leagues, ending any "buzz" they might generate. Third, they use metallic bats, which mean that their offensive statistics are somewhat inflated - though the NCAA has shifted to composite bats to lessen hitting power and injury risk. Finally, due to weather and economic issues related to it, warm-weather schools in the South and the West Coast have dominated competition. The top collegiate competition is the '''College World Series''' in Omaha, Nebraska and the current champions are the Florida Gators.
* '''High School''' baseball has similar problems to College: all but the very, very, very best are still going to have to go through the Minors, so it's not like a prospect can get much "buzz" like a top Football or Basketball recruit.
* '''Little League''' and other youth organizations such as Babe Ruth/Cal Ripken Baseball and RBI Baseball are, of course, organized leagues for younger people, basically from as soon as someone is old enough to swing a bat until they are eligible for College (sometimes even longer). Little League itself is the largest youth sports organization in the world, and it's '''Little League World Series''' (which differs from the College and MLB World Series in that it actually has teams from different continents) in Williamsport, Pennsylvania[[note]]actually South Williamsport, which is a separate community[[/note]] draws pretty large crowds, is shown on ESPN and ABC, and has featured many future Major Leaguers back when they were young innocent 12-year-olds. The current champions are the Kitasuna Little League from the UsefulNotes/{{Tokyo}} district of Kōtō.
* '''Negro Leagues''' Now defunct, but from about 1887 to 1947 Major League Baseball instituted a color line, barring players of African descent (this was technically a gentleman's agreement since neither the American nor National Leagues had an explicit policy. The result was the creation of a "third" major league (although many of its teams were not as consistently financially viable as their white counterparts) consisting of the top African-American talent. Many Negro League teams were often on par with or better than their white counterparts. Sometimes it would exist as a formal league other times it would exist as a collection of barnstorming teams. After 1947, when Jackie Robinson signed with the Dodgers, Negro League teams hemorrhaged talent to the Majors. The Negro American League formally folded in 1958 and the final Negro League team to exist, the Indianapolis Clowns, lasted until the 1980s.
* '''The All American Girls Professional Baseball League'''. Also now defunct, the "Girls League" was created by chewing gum magnate and owner of the Chicago Cubs Philip Wrigley in response to the most popular male professional baseball players going off to fight in UsefulNotes/WorldWarII. UsefulNotes/FranklinDRoosevelt felt that professional baseball was important to national morale, and asked the various team owners to come up with ways to keep it going despite the war's draw on the players. In 1943, Wrigley, who knew a thing or two about baseball from owning the Cubs (Wrigley Field is named for his father), decided to create a league made up of teams of women recruited from various fast-pitch softball leagues around the country, who would play pro baseball (not softball) in small cities across Midwest. After a slow start, the league became very popular during the latter years of the war. It finally folded in 1954, under pressure from competition with the newfound pastime of following the Majors on TV, when the Major Leagues decreed that women were to be banned from organized professional baseball. This diktat had no legal force, of course, but since the club owners tended to also own Major League teams, they dropped the AAGPBL like a hot potato. It should be noted that some of the players in this league generated playing records that are easily comparable to the greatest baseball players in the major leagues. The story of the league was dramatized ([[VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory and fictionalized]]) in the movie ''Film/ALeagueOfTheirOwn''.

'''[[WMG:Baseball around the world]]'''
With some exceptions like [[UsefulNotes/AmericanFootball the]] [[UsefulNotes/RugbyLeague various]] [[UsefulNotes/RugbyUnion codes]] [[UsefulNotes/AustralianRulesFootball of]] [[UsefulNotes/AssociationFootball football]], IceHockey, and UsefulNotes/{{Basketball}}, sports, like languages, laws, and other things, tend to follow empires. Just as UsefulNotes/TheBritishEmpire spread UsefulNotes/{{Cricket}} to its Commonwealth, and the Spanish gave Latin America the controversial gift of bullfighting, the American commercial empire spread baseball. Outside the US, baseball is most popular in an area aligning with the American sphere of influence in the period roughly 1880-1950, which translates to the Spanish-speaking Caribbean and the Pacific, particularly East Asia. Canada and Mexico come in as a matter of course, as well.

Baseball came to Cuba in the 1860s. Brought by Cubans who studied in the United States and American sailors in Cuban ports. Nemisio Guillo is credited with bringing a bat and baseball to Cuba in 1864 after being schooled in Mobile, Alabama. Soon after this, the first Cuban War of Independence against its Spanish rulers spurred Spanish authorities in 1869 to ban playing the sport in Cuba. The reasons were because Cubans began to prefer baseball to viewing bullfights, which Cubans were expected to dutifully attend as homage to their Spanish rulers in an informal cultural mandate. As such, baseball became symbolic of freedom and egalitarianism to the Cuban people. Until the 1959 communist revolution Cuba was a hotbed for Major League scouts. Afterwords, Cuban professional baseball was shut down and replaced by "amateurs." This resulted in Cuba becoming the most powerful team on the international stage since Major League clubs refused to allow their talent to play in international competitions. Major League money is still a powerful lure to their players, and those brave enough to do so, often defect to the US. This lure is so powerful that when the Cuban national team is playing abroad the Cuban government will rely on police state tactics to prevent defections. The impending normalization of US-Cuban relations, if it comes to full fruition, is expected to regularize the process for Cuban players entering the Majors (which [[http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/cuban-players-already-have-been-gaining-ground-in-mlb/ they had started to do a lot more anyway]]) and there's even talk that the Major Leagues might put [[http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/buster-olney/post/_/id/8932 a team in Cuba at some point in the (somewhat distant) future]]; a team in the Minor Leagues is more likely (and not unprecedented; the International League had the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havana_Sugar_Kings Havana Sugar Kings]] from 1954 until 1960).

Cuban refugees brought the game to the Dominican Republic in the nineteenth century, and the Island soon developed a thriving domestic league. After the communist revolution closed Cuba to the majors the Dominican Republic became a major pipeline for Major League talent. The island is home to numerous baseball academies run by MLB clubs seeking to find those diamonds in the rough. The Dominican Republic are also the the champions of the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

Baseball was first played in Japan in 1873 at Kaisei Gakko (now Tokyo University) under the instruction of an American teacher, Horace Wilson. Around 1880 the first Japanese baseball team was organized at the Shimbashi Athletic Club, and several college teams were formed in Tokyo. During the period 1890 to 1902, a team from the First Higher School in Tokyo played and often defeated a team made up of American residents in Yokohama; the publicity for these games helped make baseball one of the most popular Western sports in Japan. Since UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, baseball is the most popular spectator sport in Japan; no doubt the American-led occupation had something to do with that. High school baseball in Japan is immensely popular, especially the National High School Baseball Tournament held every August at Koshien Stadium.

Various other places got the game variously. Most of the Caribbean got it through American and Cuban evangelists for the game. Korea and China got it through a combination of Japanese imperialism and literal American evangelism (American Protestant preachers were as thick as bees in late 19th and early 20th century Korea and China). In China, most of the best players and coaches fled to Taiwan after the Communists won the Civil War and while the game is the most popular sport on the island (to the point that youth baseball is featured on the Taiwanese $500 bill[[note]]Since the Taiwanese dollar is worth about 3 cents American, a $500 is a fairly commonly used note[[/note]]), it is only now starting to recover on the mainland. The Netherlands received baseball through an energetic American English teacher, although the fact that the Netherlands Antilles (in the Caribbean) are well within the American sphere of influence and play baseball as their main sport has an impact as well.[[note]]We should also note, as an aside, the existence of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pesäpallo Pesäpallo]], or "Finnish baseball," one of Finland's three national sports (along with motor racing and UsefulNotes/IceHockey), which is a completely different sport from standard baseball, but was invented by a Finn who went to America, saw baseball, and combined it with traditional Finnish bat-and-ball sports to create something delightfully bizarre.[[/note]]

Other than the earlier elaborated leagues in North America, professional leagues (or professional ''level'' in the case of Communist Cuba) exist in (in rough order of level of play- although not necessarily of the baseball playing abilities of that country): Japan, Cuba, Korea, Mexico,[[note]]Where the local Mexican League is officially a AAA-level Minor League in the North American system[[/note]] the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, the Netherlands, Italy and China.

Australia has had professional baseball on-and-off since the 80's, but after 2002 went about a decade without a stable league. (The demise of that league came three years after the country's one MLB player ''bought'' the entire league.) A new league, the Australian Baseball League, was established for the Southern Hemisphere summer of 2010–11. It now looks to be a stable fixture in the Aussie sporting landscape, though not at the profile of, say, Aussie rules, cricket, rugby, or soccer. Soon after the league was formed, MLB purchased a majority stake, with Baseball Australia (the national federation) owning the remainder. MLB sold out to BA in 2016, but will remain in an advisory role for the immediate future. The sport has experienced explosive growth at the youth level in the 21st century—the country had no Little League-affiliated youth leagues before 2007, but by 2012 close to 400 were operating, and the country has had its own berth in the Little League World Series since 2013.

Colombia, Nicaragua, the Philippines and several other European countries have semi-professional leagues, although little information is available on them.

Although it tends to be scoffed at in the modern United Kingdom due to its resemblance to rounders (a similar game, albeit with shorter bats, which is regarded as a children's sport in the UK), baseball enjoyed a burst of popularity there in TheThirties. This culminated in England even beating the United States in the final of the very first Baseball World Cup in 1938. However, the intervention of UsefulNotes/WorldWarTwo killed the sport's popularity (and leading to joking conspiracy theories among enthusiasts that the Americans secretly engineered the war to prevent England from beating them again).

After World War Two the Americans tried to introduce Germans to the sport, as seen in the 1948 movie ''A Foreign Affair'' starring Jean Arthur, where these efforts are somehow described as helping Germans to learn the values of democracy. The fact that the ball-and-stick game ''Schlagball'' had been quite popular before the war could have helped, but the people of the American zone and West Berlin stuck to playing football (soccer). In later decades German baseball teams made their appearance, but these had to start from scratch, and to this day baseball is a small niche sport in Germany that gets less attention than handball, volleyball or field hockey.

Baseball was an official UsefulNotes/{{Olympic|Games}} sport from 1992 to 2008. The reason it isn't any longer is because the IOC, citing the fact that Major League players were not allowed to participate in the tournament due to conflict with the regular season (among other reasons, such as the steroid problems of MLB and the fact that the sport is not popular in Europe, from which most of the influential IOC members hail), dropped the sport from the program, along with DistaffCounterpart softball.

In response to that, Major League Baseball, along with the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), the sport's international governing body at that time[[note]]The IBAF merged with the International Softball Federation in 2013 to create the current world governing body, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC). The formation of the WBSC was part of the unsuccessful attempt to return baseball and softball to the Olympic program for 2020.[[/note]], instituted the World Baseball Classic. This sixteen-team tournament -- first held in 2006, with the second edition held in 2009 and future tournaments to be held in 2013, 2017, etc. -- takes place in March, right before the MLB regular season, and many of the players are on MLB teams, unlike in most tournaments. Japan won the first two [=WBCs=] played so far, and has a bit of a rivalry with South Korea for [[ImperialJapan obvious reasons]]. The Dominican Republic won the 2013 edition of the tournament. The USA were something of a disappointment, being eliminated in the second round in both 2006 and 2013, and losing in the semifinals in 2009. In 2017, they finally broke through, reaching the finals for the first time and then defeating Puerto Rico 8-0 to win their first championship.

'''[[WMG:Baseball terms in mainstream slang]]'''
Baseball has been so popular for so long that many terms from the game have made their way into common usage, in situations having nothing to do with baseball.

* A success is a "home run".
* If you make a great success, you "hit it out of the park".
* Strange ideas "come out of left field" (as throws from left field to first are the rarest and most unusual in baseball).
* Inappropriate talk is "off base".
* If you failed at something, you "struck out".
* A more fleeting failure is a "swing and a miss".
* Someone who hasn't talked to you in a while might wish to check up on you, just to "touch base".
* In a brainstorming session, you might "bat around" an idea.
* In trying to convince someone to buy something, you make a sales "pitch".
* If a coworker finds himself unable to perform a task (such as, say, giving a presentation) at the last minute, you may well be called upon to "pinch-hit" for him.
* A rough estimate is a "ballpark figure".
* If two things are so different they can't be compared to one another, they're "not even in the same ballpark."
* For a similar comparison, you can say that the two incomparable things are "not even in the same league;" similarly, to suggest that something is far superior to other, theoretically similar things or is otherwise unique, it's "in a league of its own." This can be extended; if a small subgroup within a wider group are mostly vying among themselves to be the best or are doing something uniquely, they're "playing in a higher league" or "a different league" or "another league." (This usage could have come from other sports with "leagues" of course, but historically it came from baseball, with the reference being to the split between the Majors and the Minors and among the gradations of Minors; it also comes from baseball sportswriters who were prone to saying that the top few teams in the AL or NL were "playing in a higher league" when their baseball was so much better than the rest.)
* If you reach the top level of competition or professional prestige, you're "playing in the big leagues/the Majors."
** If you're on the cusp of this but have not been formally accepted you're "ready for the big leagues/Majors."[[note]]Examples: A local politician who has assembled the credentials to run for Senate but hasn't formally announced it might be called "ready for the big leagues" in the papers; a lawyer who is a senior associate at a law firm who has just sealed a major case and is likely to be made partner but hasn't yet might be said to be "ready for the big leagues."[[/note]]
** Someone who isn't fully trained may, by contrast, be called "not [yet] ready for the Majors."
* If you want to dismiss something as small-time and piddling, you call it "bush league" (a term historically used for really low-level minor league teams playing in the middle of nowhere.)
* If you haven't yet made a mistake, you're "batting a thousand". Similarly, "nobody bats a thousand" is a way of acknowledging that nobody is perfect; a career-long 1.000 batting average is functionally impossible due to the difficulty of hitting a baseball and successfully getting on base, plus the sheer length of a baseball season.
* If you've got contingency plans for everything, you're "covering all your bases".
* When something unexpectedly difficult happens, life is "throwing you a curveball".
* If someone is going easy on you, particularly with interview questions, they're "throwing softballs."
* If someone is seriously testing or challenging you, they're "playing hardball." This usage is particularly common when talking about negotiations.
* Also, in politics, [[{{Realpolitik}} bargaining and maneuvering for pure political gain]] (rather than for ideological reasons or to achieve policy objectives) is also called "playing hardball." (This is why Chris Matthews' show on {{MSNBC}} is called ''Hardball''.)
* If someone is crazy, he's gone completely "screwball". By the same token, a madcap comedy (especially a madcap parody of a RomanticComedy) is called a ScrewballComedy (because it goes the opposite way you expect it to, like a screwball pitch breaks the opposite of how a pitcher's pitches usually breaks).
* Laws that call for mandatory jail sentences after the third offense are called "three strikes laws".
* Someone trying for a big, improbable win, such as shooting the moon in Hearts, is "swinging for the fences".
* If something minute and technical has great importance to people who know a subject well, it's "inside baseball."[[note]]"Inside baseball" is an old term meaning often-overlooked and rather boring items that only really interest baseball insiders and a strategy based on exploiting these small, unexciting details to consistently get on base and thus consistently get runs and thus consistently win games. The strategy is today more usually called "small ball," and it is popular with smaller-market teams that can't afford big hitters and annoys the everloving ''hell'' out of the large-market teams who can (see, e.g., Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillén on the Minnesota Twins. To wit, he'd rather play the Yankees than the Twins, whom he calls the "Piranhas" for their small-ball style.)[[/note]] Very often used in the political context, where "this is a little bit inside baseball" is a common preface meaning "this involves about ten minutes of you hearing who hates whose guts in the House Republican caucus and why that matters" (or something to that effect). (UsefulNotes/WashingtonDC has always had an affinity for baseball analogies, even though it went for over thirty years--1971-2005--without a baseball team.)
* The term "hit" meaning a "success" (e.g. a "hit song" or "hit movie") might even be baseball, as of course a "hit" in baseball is the desired result for a batter. If it is, it's lost all connection; the term is old enough that we can't tell and has spread beyond the US.

One of the biggest effects, though, is on American sexual slang. Here goes:
* In foreplay, the various bases indicate how close the couple are to intercourse. Usually, it goes like this:
** "Strikeout" is not getting anywhere.
** "First base" is making out (i.e. kissing with tongues).
** "Second base" is playing with the breasts or other non-genitalia erogenous zones, with most clothing still on.
** "Third base" is playing with the genitalia, including oral sex, with most if not all clothing removed.
** "Hitting a home run" in this context is often called "going all the way" and means...going all the way. "Scoring" is another useful term.
* Among gay men, the one on top during intercourse is said to be the "pitcher" and the one on the bottom is said to be the "catcher".
* Bisexuals are said to be "switch hitters" or to "bat for both teams" (the latter being used in some cricketing nations).
* Relatedly, someone of a different sexual orientation "bats for the other team" (e.g.: Straight Guy: "Don't bother hitting on Maryanne, she bats for the other team" or Gay Guy: "Jimmy's hot, but he bats for the other team.")


Tropes that often come into play in baseball-related works of fiction:

* DownToTheLastPlay: Important games in works of media almost always end with a big dramatic play, usually either a home run, a strikeout, or an incredible defensive play (usually a leaping/diving catch or a close play at the plate). You never see a climactic game end with a routine groundout to shortstop.
** The "down by three with the bases loaded, a full count and one out to go'" is a popular setup for a game-winning grand slam. In reality, this has been done exactly twice in the majors. ''Twice'', in more than 200,000 games. Even discarding the "full count" and "two outs" qualifiers, the game-winning grand slam has only happened 28 times in all. It's a feat nearly as rare as a perfect game or unassisted triple play.
*** On September 27, 2011, all but the full count happened as the Arizona Diamondbacks staged a 10th-inning MiracleRally against the Dodgers -- who scored five runs in the top of the inning -- with two outs and nobody on. Ryan Roberts capped off a six-run rally by hitting a walk-off grand slam on the first pitch. The Diamondbacks won this game 7-6.
*** June 2, 2015, top of the ninth inning, down by three runs, bases loaded, two outs, and two strikes against him, Alex Guerrero of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a grand slam home run that puts his team one run ahead of the Colorado Rockies. They maintained the lead to win the game 9-8. An especially cinematic-feeling outcome because the home run was very close to the wall and went over the outfielder's glove by mere ''inches''. (And the fact that the outfielder acted like he caught it. Reaching into his glove with his free hand to reveal... he had nothing.)
** Sometimes happens in [[TruthInTelevision real life]] games -- in baseball, extra innings go on as long as necessary, and are often referred to as "bonus baseball" or "free baseball". If the home team takes a lead in its half of any inning after the 8th, the game [[SuddenDeath immediately ends]], with no further play. This has led to the concept of the "walk-off" hit, originally only a "walk-off home run" but the concept was since expanded to any hit that ends a ball game. The "walk-off" hit was originally coined by pitcher Dennis Eckersley, who intended it to indicate that the pitcher walks off the field with his head hung in shame but has come to mean that the batter-runner walks off the field to the adulation of his home crowd.
** Because baseball has no clock, a team can be down to their last out and still win, no matter how far down they are. There are actually RealLife cases of a team being way down with two outs in the bottom of the 9th and winning the game because the defense wasn't able to record that final out (e.g. Cleveland's 9-run rally against Washington in 1901, final score 14-13).
* GameOfNerds: Baseball probably has the highest geek quotient of any mainstream sport, and several media works (especially those involving children) will have at least one kid who isn't really athletic but tries to make up for it with his knowledge of baseball's minutiae. The advent of sabermetrics and the rise of fantasy sports has taken this UpToEleven.
* PutMeInCoach: With seemingly every other option exhausted, a neglected player comes out of nowhere to lead his team to victory. Happens in RealLife as well, though hardly ever under as dramatic of circumstances. One of the more extreme examples, which happens probably once or twice a year, if that, is when a game goes into an absurd number of extra innings and teams run out of viable pitchers, an available position player - usually one that had experience doing it in high school, college, or even in the minor leagues - will volunteer to pitch for an inning or possibly longer. Several position players have logged official pitching stats such as wins and saves in this manner.
* WhoNeedsOvertime: The game is always decided in the ninth inning, win or lose. Teams never tie the game in the ninth and then win in extra innings. In RealLife, extra inning games are considered very exciting (if a bit exhausting at times) to the point of being called or at least considered "bonus baseball" by most fans, but in fiction, this violates TheLawOfConservationOfDetail.
* MightyGlacier: First basemen and [=DHes=] tend to be portrayed this way because... well... most of them in RealLife tend to be big, slow, power hitters. In real baseball, significantly overweight players seem to frequently end up as pitchers (David Wells, Bartolo Colon, and C.C. Sabathia, to name some examples). This could be because pitching doesn't require a great deal of mobility, but possessing a lot of lower body strength comes in very handy.
* ThatOneRule: Typically this is the infield fly rule, which is probably baseball's only truly complicated rule. However, many rules can serve this purpose out of sheer obscurity; the rule on uncaught third strikes (that is: if the catcher doesn't catch the ball after the batter's third strike, the batter is entitled to try to run to first) and force-outs, among others, have been used for drama, as virtually anything can make or break a game. That includes real drama: those two rules cost the Brooklyn Dodgers the 1941 World Series and the New York Giants [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merkle%27s_Boner the 1908 NL pennant]], respectively. Another candidate the "balk" rule; the concept is simple (a pitcher can't misdirect baserunners as to whether or not he's making a pitch), but deciding what does and doesn't constitute one is another matter.