Major League Baseball

Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Current season or competition:
2011 Major League Baseball season
Major League Baseball.svg
Sport Baseball
Founded 1869
Commissioner Bud Selig[1]
No. of teams 30[2]
Country(ies) United States (29 teams)
Canada (1 team)
Continent North America
Most recent champion(s) St. Louis Cardinals (11th title)
Most titles New York Yankees (27 titles)[3]
TV partner(s) Fox
MLB Network
Official website

Major League Baseball (MLB) is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League. The two leagues merged in 2000 into a single MLB organization led by the Commissioner of Baseball after 100 years as separate legal entities.[4]

MLB constitutes one of the major professional sports leagues of the United States and Canada. It is composed of 30 teams — 29 in the United States and 1 in Canada. With the International Baseball Federation, MLB also manages the World Baseball Classic.


MLB organizational structure

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


The chief executive of MLB is the commissioner. There are six executive vice-presidents in charge of the following areas: baseball development, business, labor relations and human resources, finance, administration (whose vice-president is MLB's Chief Information Officer), and baseball operations.[7]

Multimedia and production

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

League organization

Major League Baseball is divided into the American League (14 teams) and the National League (16 teams). Currently, each league is further subdivided into three divisions – labeled East, Central, and West. The three-division structure dates back to 1994, one season after the National League expanded to 14 teams. From 1969 through 1993 each league consisted of an East and West division. Before 1997, the two leagues met on the field only during the World Series and the All-Star Game: regular-season interleague play was introduced in 1997.

In March 1995, two new franchises—the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays—were awarded by Major League Baseball, to begin play in 1998. This addition would bring the total number of franchises to 30. In early 1997, Major League Baseball decided to assign one new team to each league: Tampa Bay joined the American League and Arizona joined the National League. The original plan was to have an odd number of teams in each league (15 per league, with 5 in each division). Interleague play, introduced in 1997, would have had to be extended throughout the entire season to allow every team to play every day. It was unclear though if interleague play would continue after the 1998 season, as it had to be approved by the players' union. For this and other reasons, it was decided that both leagues should continue to have an even number of teams; one existing club would have to switch leagues. The Milwaukee Brewers agreed in November 1997 to move from the American League to the National League, thereby making the National League a 16-team league.[8] Following the 2011 season, Major League Baseball announced its plan to move the Houston Astros from the NL Central to the AL West for the 2013 season, resulting in both leagues having 3 divisions of 5 teams each and allowing all teams to have a more balanced schedule. (MLB required the Astros to accept this move as a condition of approving their sale to Jim Crane.)[9]

The two leagues were once separate, rival corporate entities, but that distinction has all but disappeared. In 1903, the two leagues began to meet in an end-of-year championship series called the World Series. In 1920, the weak National Commission, which had been created to manage relationships between the two leagues, was replaced with the much more powerful Commissioner of Baseball, who had the power to make decisions for all of professional baseball unilaterally. In 2000, the American and National Leagues were dissolved as legal entities, and Major League Baseball became a single league de jure, although it had operated as a de facto single entity for many years.

The same rules and regulations are played between the two leagues with one exception: the American League operates under the Designated Hitter Rule, while the National League does not. This difference in rules between leagues is unique to MLB; the other sports leagues of the US including the NFL, NBA, NHL each have all teams playing under the same rules.


Differing definitions of MLB's founding year

For its founding year, Major League Baseball (the current official organization) uses 1869—the year the first professional team,[10] the Cincinnati Red Stockings, was established—and held official celebrations for its 100th anniversary in 1969 and its 125th anniversary in 1994, both of which were commemorated with league-wide shoulder patches. The modern Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves franchises trace their histories back to the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players in the early 1870s. The first game in the National League of Base Ball Clubs—on Saturday, April 22, 1876 (at the Jefferson Street Grounds, Philadelphia)—is often pointed to as the beginning of Major League Baseball.[11][12]


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

Currently, there are two major leagues: the National League (founded in 1876) and the American League (founded in 1901).

Other leagues

Several other defunct leagues are officially considered to be major, and their statistics and records are included with those of the two current major leagues. These include the Union Association (1884), the American Association (1882–1891, not to be confused with later minor leagues of the same name), the Players League (1890) and the Federal League (1914–1915). In the late 1950s, a serious attempt was made to establish a third major league, the Continental League, but that league never played.

Several Negro League players have been enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, the Negro Leagues are not officially considered major, primarily because the statistical record is incomplete.

Japanese professional baseball, divided into the Pacific League and the Central League, are not officially considered major leagues. No Japanese players have been inducted into the Hall of Fame; however, Sadaharu Oh is famous on both sides of the Pacific for holding the all-time unofficial world record for career home runs: 868.


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

In 1870, a schism developed between professional and amateur ballplayers, after the 1869 founding of the first professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings. The NABBP split into two groups. The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players was formed in 1871.[13] Some consider it to have been the first major league.[by whom?] Its amateur counterpart disappeared after only a few years.

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

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

The Union Association survived for only one season (1884), as did the Players League (1890).[14][15] Both leagues are considered major leagues by many baseball researchers because of the perceived high caliber of play (for a brief time anyway) and the number of star players featured. However, some researchers have disputed the major-league status of the Union Association, pointing out that franchises came and went and contending that the St. Louis club, which was deliberately "stacked" by the league's president (who owned that club), was the only club that was anywhere close to major-league caliber.[16]

National League Baltimore Orioles, 1896

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

The resulting bidding war for players led to widespread contract-breaking and legal disputes. One of the most famous involved star second baseman Napoleon Lajoie, who in 1901 went across town in Philadelphia from the National League Phillies to the American League Athletics. Barred by a court injunction from playing baseball in the state of Pennsylvania the following year, Lajoie was traded to the Cleveland team, where he played and managed for many years.[17]

The war between the American and National leagues caused shock waves throughout the baseball world. At a meeting at the Leland Hotel in Chicago in 1901, the other baseball leagues negotiated a plan to maintain their independence. On September 5, 1901, Patrick T. Powers, president of the Eastern League, announced the formation of the second National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the NAPBL or "NA" for short.[18]

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

After 1902, the three leagues—the NL, the AL, and the NAPBL—signed a new National Agreement. The new agreement tied independent contracts to the reserve-clause national league contracts. Baseball players became a commodity. The agreement also set up a formal classification system for independent minor leagues that regulated the dollar value of contracts, the forerunner of the system refined by Branch Rickey that is still used today.[19]

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

Dead-ball era

Cy Young, 1911 baseball card

At this time the games tended to be low scoring, dominated by such pitchers as Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Mordecai Brown, and Grover Cleveland Alexander, to the extent that the period 1900–1919 is commonly called the "dead-ball era". The term also accurately describes the condition of the "baseball". A baseball cost three dollars, a hefty sum then, equal to $38.10 today (in inflation-adjusted US dollars). Club owners were therefore reluctant to spend much money on new balls, if not necessary. It was not unusual for a single baseball to last an entire game, by the end of which, the ball would be dark with grass, mud, and tobacco stains, and misshapen from contact with the bat. Balls were replaced only if they were hit into the crowd and lost, and many clubs employed security guards solely to retrieve balls hit into the stands.

Home runs were thus rare, and "small ball"—singles, bunts, stolen bases, the hit-and-run play, and other tactics—dominated the strategies of the time.[20] Hitting methods, like the Baltimore Chop, were used to increase the number of infield singles.[21]

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

The World War II era

On January 14, 1942, Major League Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt regarding the continuation of baseball during the war, called the Green Light Letter. In this letter, the commissioner pleaded for the continuation of baseball in hopes for a start of a new major league season. President Roosevelt responds "I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going. There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before. And that means that they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before."[22]

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

Breaking the color barrier

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

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

The following year, the Dodgers called Robinson up to the major leagues. On April 15, 1947, Robinson made his major league debut at Ebbets Field before a crowd of 26,623 spectators, including more than 14,000 black patrons. Black baseball fans began flocking to see the Dodgers when they came to town, abandoning their Negro league teams which they had followed exclusively. Robinson's promotion met a generally positive, although mixed, reception among newspapers and white major league players. Manager Leo Durocher informed his team, "I do not care if the guy is yellow or black... I'm the manager of this team, and I say he plays. What's more, I say he can make us all rich. And if any of you cannot use the money, I will see that you are all traded." After a strike threat by some players, National League President Ford Frick and Baseball Commissioner Happy Chandler let it be known that any striking players would be suspended. Robinson received significant encouragement from several major league players, including Dodgers teammate Pee Wee Reese who said, "You can hate a man for many reasons. Color is not one of them."

That year, Robinson earned the inaugural Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year Award (separate National League and American League rookie of the year honors weren't awarded until 1949).[128]

The next year, racial pressure on Robinson eased, as a number of other black players entered the major leagues. Larry Doby and Satchel Paige were signed by the Cleveland Indians, and the Dodgers added three other black players besides Robinson.

Expanding west, south and north

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

Baseball experts consider the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers' boss Walter O'Malley to be "perhaps the most influential owner of baseball's early expansion era."[23] Before the 1958 Major League Baseball season, he moved the Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles.[24] When O'Malley moved the Dodgers from Brooklyn, the story transcended the world of sport and he found himself on the cover of TIME magazine.[25] The cover art for the issue was created by sports cartoonist Willard Mullin,[26] long noted for his caricature of the "Brooklyn Bum" that personified the team. O'Malley was also influential in persuading the rival New York Giants to move west, to become the San Francisco Giants. The Giants were already suffering from slumping attendance records at their aging ballpark, the Polo Grounds. Had the Dodgers moved out west alone, the St. Louis Cardinals—1,600 mi (2,575 km) away—[27][28] would have been the closest National League team. The joint move would make West Coast road trips economical for visiting teams.[29] O'Malley invited San Francisco Mayor George Christopher to New York to meet with Giants owner Horace Stoneham.[29] Stoneham was considering moving the Giants to Minnesota,[30] but he was convinced to join O'Malley on the West Coast at the end of the 1957 campaign. The meetings occurred during the 1957 season and against the wishes of Commissioner of Baseball Ford Frick.[31] The dual moves broke the hearts of New York's National League fans but ultimately were successful for both franchises—and for Major League Baseball.[24] The move was an immediate success as well, because the Dodgers set a major-league, single-game attendance record in their first home appearance with 78,672 fans.[29]

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

In 1966, Major League Baseball moved to the "Deep South" when the Braves moved to Atlanta. In 1968, the Kansas City Athletics moved west to become the Oakland Athletics.

In 1969, the two major leagues added two teams each. The American League added the Seattle Pilots (who became the Milwaukee Brewers after one disastrous season in Seattle) and the Kansas City Royals. The National League added the first Canadian franchise, the Montreal Expos, as well as the San Diego Padres.

In 1972, the Washington Senators moved to Dallas–Fort Worth to become the Texas Rangers. In 1977, baseball added a second Canadian team, the Toronto Blue Jays, as well as the Seattle Mariners. This marked the end of the expansion era: no new teams were added and no teams moved until the 1990s. In 1993, the National League added the Florida Marlins in the Miami area (now the Miami Marlins with their 2012 move to the city of Miami proper) and the Colorado Rockies in Denver. In 1998, the Brewers switched leagues by joining the National League and two new teams were added: the National League's Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix and the American League's Tampa Bay Devil Rays (now Tampa Bay Rays) in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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

The Expos became the first franchise in over three decades to move when they became the Washington Nationals in 2005. This move left Canada with just one team, but it also returned baseball to the United States capital city after a 33-year absence. This franchise shift, like many previous ones, involved baseball's return to a city which had been previously abandoned. Although there are a number of cities which permanently lost major league baseball in the 19th century, since 1901 only Montreal has lost its major league team without eventually getting another one. (This is not counting the short-lived Federal League. However, the two established leagues have only passed over two Federal League markets— Buffalo and Indianapolis.)

Pitching dominance and rules changes

Graph showing, by year, the average number of runs per MLB game

By the late 1960s, the balance between pitching and hitting had swung in favor of the pitchers. In 1968—later nicknamed "the year of the pitcher"[32]Boston Red Sox player Carl Yastrzemski won the American League batting title with an average of just .301, the lowest in history.[33] Detroit Tigers pitcher Denny McLain won 31 games, making him the first (and, as of 2011, the last) pitcher to win 30 games in a season since Dizzy Dean in 1934.[34] St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Bob Gibson achieved an equally remarkable feat by allowing an ERA of just 1.12.[35]

Following these pitching performances, in December 1968 the rules committee voted to reduce the strike zone from knees to shoulders to top of knees to armpits and lower the pitcher's mound from 15 to 10 inches, beginning in the 1969 season.[36]

In 1973 the American League, which had been suffering from much lower attendance than the National League, sought to increase scoring even further by initiating the designated hitter (DH) rule.[37]

Power age

Routinely in the late 1990s and early 2000s, baseball players hit 40 or 50 home runs in a season, a feat that was considered rare even in the 1980s. It has become apparent since that at least some of this power surge was a result of players using steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. Many modern baseball theorists believe that the need of pitchers to combat the rise in power could lead to a pitching revolution at some point. New pitches, such as the mysterious[38] gyroball, could shift the balance of power back to the defensive side. A pitching revolution would not be unprecedented; several pitches have changed the game of baseball, including the slider in the '50s and '60s and the split-fingered fastball in the '70s to '90s. Since the 1990s, the changeup has made a resurgence, being thrown masterfully by pitchers such as Trevor Hoffman, Greg Maddux, Jamie Moyer, Tom Glavine, Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez and Tim Lincecum. Recently, pitchers such as Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez, and Ubaldo Jimenez have been throwing changeups with a split-finger grip, creating a dropping movement, dubbed the "split change."[39][40][41]

MLB uniforms

A baseball team and its uniforms in the 1870s.

A baseball uniform is a type of uniform worn by baseball players, and by some non-playing personnel, such as field managers and coaches. It is worn to indicate the person's role in the game and — through the use of logos, colors, and numbers — to identify the teams and their players, managers, and coaches.[42]

The New York Knickerbockers were the first baseball team to use uniforms, taking the field on April 4, 1849, in pants made of blue wool, white flannel shirts (jerseys) and straw hats.[43][44][45] The practice of wearing a uniform soon spread, and by 1900, all major league teams had adopted them. By 1882, most uniforms included stockings, which covered the leg from foot to knee, and had different colors that reflected the different baseball positions.[46] In the late 1880s, the Detroit Wolverines and Washington Nationals of the National League and the Brooklyn Bridegrooms of the American Association were the first to wear striped uniforms.[47]

Caps, or other types of headgear with eyeshades, have been a part of baseball uniforms from the beginning.[48][49] Baseball teams often wore full-brimmed straw hats or no cap at all since there was no official rule regarding headgear.[50] Completing the baseball uniform are cleats and stockings, both of which have also been around for a long time.

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

Traditionally home uniforms have displayed the team name on the front, while away uniforms have displayed the name of the city (or state) that the team is from. There are many exceptions to that rule, however.

Season structure

Spring training

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

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

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

Regular season

The current MLB regular season consists of 162 games per team, which typically begins on the first Sunday in April and ends on the first Sunday in October. Each team's schedule is organized typically into 3-game series, with occasional 2- or 4-game series, and the rare 5-game series. Postponed games or continuations of suspended games can result in an ad hoc 1-game or 5-game series. A team's series are organized into homestands and road trips that group multiple series together. Teams generally play games six days per week, commonly having Monday or Thursday as an off day. Frequently, games are scheduled at night, but during the vacation months of June, July, and August, more day games are played. Sunday games are generally played during the afternoon, allowing teams to travel to their next destination prior to a Monday night game.

In one weekend in mid-May and in the last two thirds of June, teams participate in interleague play, allowing fans to see infrequent team matchups between teams in different leagues. Use of the DH rule is determined by the home team's league rules.

Over the course of a season, teams compete for one of the four playoff berths in their league. They can win one of these berths by either winning their division, or by capturing a wild card spot. In many seasons, post-season teams are not determined until the very end of the season, while in other years, a post-season team can be decided as early as August.[citation needed]

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

All-Star Game

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

In early July — just after the midway point of the season — a three-day break is taken and the Major League Baseball All-Star Game is held. The All-Star game features a team of players from the National League (NL) — led by the manager of the previous NL World Series team — and a team of players from the American League (AL), similarly managed, in an exhibition game. From 1959 to 1961, two games were held, one in July and one in August. The designated-hitter rule was used in the All-Star game for the first time in 1989. Following games used a DH when the game was played in an AL ballpark. As of 2010, the DH rule has been in effect regardless of venue.[51]

The 2002 contest in Milwaukee controversially ended in an 11-inning tie. Since 2003, the league which wins the All-Star game gets home-field advantage in the World Series: the league champion hosts the first two games at its own ballpark as well as the last two (if necessary.) 2010 marked the first time that a National League champion benefited from this rule. The National League did, however, manage to win three out of the seven World Series played between 2003 and 2009.[52][53]

The first All-Star Game was held as part of the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago, Illinois, and was the brainchild of Arch Ward, then sports editor for The Chicago Tribune.[54] Initially intended to be a one-time event, its great success resulted in making the game an annual one. Ward's contribution was recognized by Major League Baseball in 1962 with the creation of the "Arch Ward Trophy", given to the All-Star Game's most valuable player each year.[55] (In 2002, this was renamed the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award.)

Beginning in 1947, the eight position players in each team's starting lineup have been voted into the game by fans.[56] The fan voting was discontinued after a 1957 ballot-box-stuffing scandal in Cincinnati: seven of the eight slots originally went to Reds players, two of whom were subsequently removed from the lineup to make room for Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. Fan voting was reinstated in 1970 and has continued ever since, including Internet voting in recent years.

From the first All-Star Game, players have worn their regular team uniforms, with one exception: In the first game, the National League players wore uniforms made for the game, with the lettering "National League" across the front of the shirt.[57][58]


World Series Records
Rank Team World
1st New York Yankees (AL) 27 2009 40
2nd St. Louis Cardinals (NL) 11 2011 18
3rd Oakland Athletics † (AL) 9 1989 14
4th Boston Red Sox † (AL) 7 2007 11
5th Los Angeles Dodgers † (NL) 6 1988 18
San Francisco Giants † (NL) 6 2010 18
7th Cincinnati Reds (NL) 5 1990 9
Pittsburgh Pirates (NL) 5 1979 7
9th Detroit Tigers (AL) 4 1984 10
10th Atlanta Braves † (NL) 3 1995 9
Baltimore Orioles † (AL) 3 1983 7
Minnesota Twins † (AL) 3 1991 6
Chicago White Sox (AL) 3 2005 5
14th Chicago Cubs (NL) 2 1908 10
Philadelphia Phillies (NL) 2 2008 7
Cleveland Indians (AL) 2 1948 5
New York Mets (NL) * 2 1986 4
Toronto Blue Jays (AL) * 2 1993 2
Miami Marlins (NL) * 2 2003 2
20th Kansas City Royals (AL) * 1 1985 2
Arizona Diamondbacks (NL) * 1 2001 1
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim † (AL) * 1 2002 1
23rd San Diego Padres (NL) * 0   2
Texas Rangers † (AL) * 0   2
Milwaukee Brewers(AL to NL, 1998) * 0   1 [AL]
Houston Astros † (NL) * 0   1
Colorado Rockies (NL) * 0   1
Tampa Bay Rays † (AL) * 0   1
Seattle Mariners (AL) * 0   0
Washington Nationals † (NL) * 0   0
AL = American League (62 victories)
NL = National League (45 victories)
* joined the American or National League after 1960
(9 victories in 19 World Series out of 48 since 1960)
† Totals include a team's record in a previous city or under another name
(see franchise list below).
‡ Have not yet played in a World Series.
More detail at World Series and List of World Series champions

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

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

Within each league, the division winners are the #1, No.2 and No.3 seeds, based on win–loss records. The wild-card team is the fourth seed—regardless of its record—and is paired with the highest seed outside of its own division in the first round of the playoffs, while the remaining two division champions play each other. In the first two rounds, the better-seeded team has home-field advantage, regardless of record.[59]

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

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

Because each postseason series is split between the two teams' home fields, home-field advantage theoretically does not play a significant role unless the series goes to its maximum number of games, in which case the final game takes place on the field of the team holding the advantage. Home-field advantage, however, can play a role, if the team with home-field advantage wins the first two games (at home),[60] thereby gaining some momentum for the rest of the Series.[61]

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

International play

Since 1986, a team of Major League Baseball All-Stars has made a biennial end-of-the-season tour of Japan, playing exhibition games against the Nippon Professional Baseball All-Stars in the MLB Japan All-Star Series. Starting in 1992 and continuing intermittently, several Major League Baseball teams have played exhibition games against Japanese teams.[62]

In 2008, Major League Baseball played the MLB China Series in the People's Republic of China. It was a series of two spring-training games played by the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers. The games were an effort to popularize baseball in China.[63]

In November 2011, Major League Baseball played the MLB Taiwan Series in Taiwan. It was a series of five exhibition games played by a team made up of MLB players called the MLB All-Stars and the Chinese Taipei National Team. The MLB All-Stars swept the series, five games to zero.[64]

At the end of the 2011 season, it was announced that the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics would play their season openers in Japan.[citation needed]

MLB steroid policy

Rafael Palmeiro (batter), one of the Major League Baseball players suspended for steroid abuse.[65]

The original steroid policy[when?]provided for a 10-game suspension for a first positive test, a 30-game suspension for a second positive test, a 60-game suspension for a third positive test, a one year suspension for a fourth positive test, and a penalty at the commissioner’s discretion for a fifth positive test. Players were tested at least once per year, with the chance that several players could be tested many times per year.[66]

A former Senate Majority Leader, federal prosecutor, and ex-chairman of The Walt Disney Company, George Mitchell was appointed by Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig on March 30, 2006[67] to investigate the use of performance-enhancing drugs in MLB.[68] Mitchell was appointed during a time of controversy over the 2006 book Game of Shadows by San Francisco Chronicle investigative reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada, which chronicles alleged extensive use of performance enhancers, including several different types of steroids and growth hormone by baseball superstars Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield, and Jason Giambi. The appointment was made after several influential members of the U.S. Congress made negative comments about both the effectiveness and honesty of MLB's drug policies and Commissioner Selig.[68]

According to the report, after mandatory random testing began in 2004, HGH Treatment for Athletic Enhancement became popular among players, as HGH is not detectable in tests, though the Mitchell report was careful to point out that HGH is likely a placebo with no performance enhancing effects.[69] Also, at least one player from each of the thirty Major League Baseball teams was involved in the alleged violations.[70]

On December 12, 2007, the day before the report was to be released, Bud Selig said, regarding his decision to commission the report, "I haven't seen the report yet, but I'm proud I did it."[71][72]

According to ESPN, some people questioned whether Mitchell being a director of the Boston Red Sox created a conflict of interest, especially because no "prime [Sox] players were in the report." Mitchell described his role with the team as that of a "consultant".[73] Despite the lack of "prime" Boston players, the report had named several prominent Yankees who were parts of World Series clubs. This made some people feel that there was a conflict of interest on Mitchell's part, due to the fierce rivalry between the two teams. Cleveland Indians pitcher Paul Byrd, along with his teammates, felt the timing of publicizing Byrd's alleged use was suspicious, as the information was leaked prior to the deciding Game 7 of the 2007 American League Championship Series between the Indians and the Red Sox.[74] Former U.S. prosecutor John M. Dowd also brought up allegations of Mitchell's conflict of interest. Dowd, who had defended Senator John McCain of Arizona during the Keating Five investigation in the late 1980s, cited how he took exception to Mitchell's scolding of McCain and others for having a conflict of interest with their actions in the case and how the baseball investigation would be a "burden" for him when Mitchell was named to lead it.[75] After the investigation, Dowd later told the Baltimore Sun that he was convinced the former Senator has done a good job.[76] The Los Angeles Times reported that Mitchell acknowledged that his "tight relationship with Major League Baseball left him open to criticism".[77] Mitchell responded to the concerns by stating that readers who examined the report closely "will not find any evidence of bias, of special treatment of the Red Sox".[77]

The current MLB drug policy provides for a 50-game suspension for a first positive test, a 100-game suspension for a second positive test, and a lifetime suspension for a third positive test.[78]

Since the opening of the 2009 season, Major League Baseball and its fans have been rocked by the steroid allegations against Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz and the positive test result and 50-game suspension of Manny Ramirez, three of baseball's biggest stars. In early April of 2011, Manny Ramirez retired from baseball rather than face a 100 game suspension for his second positive steroid test.

Major League Baseball in media

Blackout policy

MLB Blackout map in the United States

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

Canadian MLB Blackout map

MLB on television

It was announced on July 11, 2006 that Fox Sports will remain with MLB through 2013 and broadcast Fox Saturday Baseball throughout the entire season, rather than the previous May to September format.[79] Fox will also hold rights to the All-Star Game each season. Fox will also alternate League Championship Series broadcasts, broadcasting the American League Championship Series in odd-numbered years and the National League Championship Series in even-numbered years as part of the new contract. Fox will continue to broadcast all games of the World Series, which will begin on a Wednesday evening rather than the current Saturday evening format.

ESPN will continue to broadcast Major League Baseball through 2013 as well, beginning with national Opening Day coverage.[72] ESPN will continue to broadcast Sunday Night Baseball, Monday Night Baseball, Wednesday Night Baseball, and Baseball Tonight. ESPN also has rights to the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game each July.

TBS will air Sunday afternoon regular season games (non-exclusive) nationally from 2008 to 2013. In 2007, TBS began its exclusive rights to any tiebreaker games that determine division or wild card champions at the end of each regular season in the event of a tie with one playoff spot remaining and exclusive coverage of the Division Series round of the playoffs.[80] TBS carries the League Championship Series that are not included under Fox's television agreement; TBS shows the National League Championship Series in odd-numbered years and the American League Championship Series in even-numbered years as part of the new contract through 2013.[81]

In January 2009, MLB launched MLB Network, which aired 26 live games that year.[82]

In Canada, all Toronto Blue Jays games are broadcast nationwide over Rogers Sportsnet.

MLB on radio

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

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

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


All games are available through from (Blackout rules apply)

International broadcasting

  • ESPN America televises a large number of games in Europe.
  • ESPN Deportes televises a large number of Major League Baseball games in Spanish and Portuguese, which air throughout Latin America.[83]
  • Five previously screened MLB on Sunday and Wednesday in the United Kingdom, (including the All-Star Game and the postseason games, but not including Spring Training) usually starting at 1 am BST. It was most recently presented by Johnny Gould and Josh Chetwynd as "MLB on Five".[84] Their coverage began on the channel's opening night in 1997, but for financial reasons, the decision was made not to pick up MLB for the 2009 season. As of June 2009, no decision has been made by Five about the 2010 season.[85] As of July 2009, no free-to-view channel in the UK shows MLB.
  • ESPN America and ESPN UK show live and recorded games several times a week — it is available with Sky Digital and (on a subscriber-basis) Virgin Media in the UK.
  • Rogers Sportsnet televises Toronto Blue Jays games in Canada as well as numerous other regular season Major League Baseball games, the All-Star Game, most playoff games, and the World Series.
  • TSN carries ESPN Sunday Night Baseball in Canada.
  • MLB Network.
  • In Australia, MLB games are regularly shown on ESPN Australia (subscription), Fox Sports (subscription) and One HD (free-to-air).
  • Digital+ broadcasts several matches (mostly delayed) a week in Spain.
  • Wapa 2 In Puerto Rico.

Current major league franchises

  1. Former Milwaukee Brewers (Western League 1894–1899) 1900–1901; St. Louis Browns 1902–1953
  2. Known as Boston Americans until 1907
  3. Formerly known as Baltimore Orioles 1901–1902; New York Highlanders 1903–1912
  4. Formerly known as Devil Rays until 2008
  5. Former Sioux City Cornhuskers (Western League) 1894; St. Paul Saints (WL) 1895–1899; played in AL West 1969–1993
  6. Formerly Grand Rapids Rustlers (Western League) 1894–1899; Cleveland Blues 1900–1902; Cleveland Naps 1903–1914; played in AL East 1969–1993
  7. Former Kansas City Blues (Western League) 1894–1900; Washington Senators 1901–1960; played in AL West 1969–1993
  8. Referred to as Los Angeles Angels from 1961–1965; California Angels from 1965–1996; Anaheim Angels from 1997–2004
  9. Previously located in Philadelphia through 1954 and in Kansas City from 1955–1967
  10. Former Washington Senators, played in AL East 1969–71
  11. Originally Boston until 1952. In Boston, they were called the Braves from 1912–35 & from 1941–52 and the Bees 1936–40; before 1912 known successively as the Red Stockings, Red Caps, Beaneaters, Doves, and Rustlers; Milwaukee from 1953–1965; played in NL West 1969–1993
  12. Formerly known as Florida Marlins until 2011
  13. Former Montreal Expos relocated after 2004 season; owned by Major League Baseball from 2002–2004
  14. Renamed from Houston Colt .45's in 1965; played in NL West 1969–1993
  15. Formerly Seattle Pilots (AL West) 1969; played in AL West through 1971, AL East 1972–1993, AL Central 1994–1997
  16. Formerly St. Louis Brown Stockings 1882 (American Association); St. Louis Browns 1883–1898 (AA 1883–1891); St. Louis Perfectos 1899
  17. Located in Brooklyn, New York until 1957. Before 1931, they were called successively the Atlantics, Grays, Bridegrooms, Grooms, Superbas, Trolley Dodgers, Dodgers, and Robins.
  18. Located in New York until 1957
  19. Will play at Miami Ballpark staring in the 2012 season
  20. Will move to AL West in 2013 as part of MLB realignment
†. Hosted 2011 All-Star Game
*. Hosting 2012 All-Star Game

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Further reading

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

External links

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