The boys of summer are back! That’s right, baseball season begins on Sunday. With summer and grand slams around the corner, here are five things to know so you can hit a home run in the baseball conversation.
The Last Night’s Game Team
Five Things To Know About MLB (Major League Baseball)
- Baseball players are called the boys of summer, but why? Baseball is the only major professional sport that spans the summer and starts and finishes the season in the same calendar year. It’s also the longest regular season in professional sports with 162 games.
- MLB is divided into two leagues – NL (National League) and AL (American League). What’s the difference? In the NL pitchers bat for themselves. In the AL, pitchers don’t hit. They have a designated hitter (a player who only hits, doesn’t play a field position) to hit for them.
- Strikeouts are measured by “K’s” on the game broadcast and throughout stadium. A forward-facing K means the player struck out swinging (they missed the ball on the third strike). A backwards K means a strikeout looking (i.e. they didn’t swing and were called out by the umpire). Photo.
- MLB does not have a salary cap like other professional leagues. Instead they have a competitive balance tax or “luxury tax.” Once a team’s annual player payroll hits a certain number (this year it’s $195 million), they are taxed. The tax was put in place so big market teams (think: New York Yankees) wouldn’t sign all of the best players, leaving the small market teams at a competitive disadvantage. Where does the tax money go? Find out here.
- Ones to watch – The defending champions are the Chicago Cubs. (Remember that epic World Series where they beat the Cleveland Indians and broke their 108-year losing streak)? Sports Illustrated predicts a Houston Astros – Chicago Cubs World Series.
- After threatening a boycott, the U.S.A.’s women’s hockey team will report to the World Championships on Friday. The team was protesting U.S.A. Hockey’s compensation for women’s hockey. The two agreed on new terms that include salary raises, performance bonuses and increased efforts to support girls' developmental teams to further the sport.
- NFL (National Football League) owners voted a resounding 31 - 1 to approve the relocation of the Raiders from Oakland to Las Vegas. It’s going to be a long, awkward breakup because the Vegas stadium won’t be done until 2020. With no new home, the Raiders will have to play the next few seasons in Oakland.
- What is a grand slam? Yes, a grand slam is a meal at Denny’s but in baseball it’s when there are runners on all three bases (first, second and third) and the batter hits a home run which equals four runs scored.