October means baseball, so let’s talk about the MLB!
MLB Playoff Outlook
And then there were four.
It all comes down to these next few games to decide who will be competing in the 2015 World Series.
As of now, the four teams remaining are the New York Mets vs. Chicago Cubs (National League Championship Series) and Toronto Blue Jays vs. Kansas City Royals (American League Championship Series). Win and you’re headed to the World Series. Lose, and you’re headed home.
All four teams have a lot on the line. To give you some background, the Mets had not been to a playoff game since 2006 and the last time the Cubs had made it to the postseason was 2008. However, something even more important to note is that Chicago has not won the World Series in 107 years. Yikes.
The last time the Blue Jays were in the playoffs was in 1993 when they won the World Series over Philadelphia. The Royals are the team with the most recent experience in the postseason. They went to the World Series last year but fell to the San Francisco Giants in Game 7. Before that, they hadn’t been to the playoffs since 1985.
These two series are the best of seven (first one to win 4 games advances), and currently the Mets have 2-0 series lead over the Cubs and the Royals are up 3-1 over the Blue Jays. But this is postseason baseball, and anything can happen—no lead is safe.
MLB Terminology: Simplified
Full disclaimer: I played softball in middle school for one season and quickly learned it wasn’t my sport. I needed to stick to the volleyball and basketball courts instead. However, I loved going to the ballpark to catch a game. Eating hot dogs and peanuts, sporting your team’s ball cap, trying to catch a foul ball and rooting for the home team is one of the best ways to spend an evening.
If you’re anything like me though, it can be difficult to figure out the rules and terminology of baseball. There’s a lot that goes into the game. So I tried to simplify it and provide a few key terms and phrases you need to know to get you ready for the Major League Baseball Playoffs!
- Balls/Strikes: This is an easy one I’m sure you are aware of, but just to be clear—a ball is a pitch that is called outside of the strike zone and the hitter does not attempt to swing. A strike is a ball that is thrown in the strike zone or the batter swings and either foul tips or misses. Three strikes = OUT. Four balls = WALK.
- Leagues: Major League Baseball houses two leagues, the American League and the National League. Each league is comprised of 15 teams.
|American League||National League|
|Baltimore Orioles||Atlanta Braves|
|Boston Red Sox||Miami Marlins|
|New York Yankees||New York Mets|
|Tampa Bay Rays||Philadelphia Phillies|
|Toronto Blue Jays||Washington Nationals|
|Chicago White Sox||Chicago Cubs|
|Cleveland Indians||Cincinnati Reds|
|Detroit Tigers||Milwaukee Brewers|
|Kansas City Royals||Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Minnesota Twins||St. Louis Cardinals|
|Houston Astros||Arizona Diamondbacks|
|Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim||Colorado Rockies|
|Oakland Athletics||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Seattle Mariners||San Diego Padres|
|Texas Rangers||San Francisco Giants|
- Bullpen: The area where pitchers warm up before they enter the game. There are typically multiple pitchers in one game. Any pitcher who enters the game for the starting pitcher is known as the reliever or relief pitcher.
- Designated hitter: Also known as “DH.” This is one designated player who bats instead of the pitcher. This is only applicable in the American League.
- Pinch Runner/Hitter: A pinch runner is a substitute for a player on base. The sub may be faster, able to score more easily, or the previous player may need to rest up or was injured after being hit by a pitch. A pinch hitter is, as you probably guessed, a substitute for a player at bat. Typically, there is a sub to replace a weak hitter.
- Switch Hitting: The ability to hit from either side of the plate. This will throw off the defense because the side you hit from dictates which side of the field the ball will travel. This also allows the batter to play the percentages. Some pitchers have better stats when going against right-handed batters, so it helps the batter if they are right-handed in that matchup.
- Leading Off/Stealing: The baserunner is allowed to be a few steps off the bag (leading off), so that while the pitcher is pitching they are in a better position to run to the next base, also known as stealing the base. When a runner moves from one base to the next without the batter hitting the ball, they’ve successfully stolen a base.
- Full Count: When a batter has three balls and two strikes. The next pitch determines if the player strikes out or advances to base (unless they foul tip the ball, which means the count remains full and the pitcher will throw another).
- Intentional Walk: If there is a player who has continuously batted well throughout the game or a runner is in scoring position, the pitcher will intentionally throw unhittable pitches (balls) to force the player to walk to the base. This action eliminates a good hitter and potentially limits the team’s ability to score. Typically, the catcher will stand up to catch the ball instead of crouching down, to signal an intentional walk to the pitcher.
- Walk-off home run: This is a home run that ends the game, providing the home team with the lead and the win. Instead of finishing the inning, the team is able to “walk-off” immediately following the run.
Hopefully this short guide of terms and phrases will help improve your baseball lingo, give you a better understanding of the game, and help you impress your friends when you watch the World Series together.
Be sure to check out MLB.com for game scores and game schedules. The first World Series game is slated for Tuesday, October 27th.