Category: Sports

Play Ball: The Origins of America’s Favorite Pastime

Baseball is often referred to as “America’s pastime.” All throughout the country, Americans feel nostalgic about their experiences watching and playing baseball, or its counterpart softball. One thing about baseball that makes it continuously popular is that fact that so many people can play it. Unlike football or basketball, people of average heights and weights can play baseball. Baseball is a great way for people to make memories with their families, whether they are playing in their backyards, attending games or cheering in front of their TVs.

So how exactly did baseball start? Before the American Civil War, people played rounders, a simple game played on sandlots that would eventually evolve into the incredible game of baseball that we cherish today. One of the biggest changes that were made to change rounders into baseball was the addition of aspects that challenge players’ skill and mental judgement. These aspects were what made cricket a well-respected sport in England, and this proved true for baseball was well. Another change that helped baseball to skyrocket was scoring and record-keeping. When we think of baseball, we often think of a number of records from the past that are still remembered today. I great example of this is Roger Maris’s record of 61 home runs in 1961 that broke Babe Ruth’s longstanding record of 60 home runs in 1927.

In 1857, the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP) was formed. This was the first organization that established a championship and governed the sport of baseball. By 1865, there were almost 100 clubs, and by 1868, there were over 400. This growth was in part aided by the Civil War. How, you may ask? During the time of the Civil War, soldiers from various regions of the U.S. played baseball together. This led to the creation of a more unified national version of baseball. The NABBP was originally not a professional organization, but rather an amateur one. However, a number of the star players did receive compensation, even at the beginning of the NABBP.

Gianni DiMeglio

Since its creation, Baseball has become part of America’s fabric.

The first team to declare themselves as openly professional was the Cincinnati Red Stockings. In 1869, twelve clubs declared themselves professional. And thus, in 1871, came the first attempt to create a “major league.” This league was the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, which lasted until 1875. This caused a divide between amateur and professional baseball players. By the start of the 20th century, most of the large cities located in the eastern United Station had professional baseball teams.

In the 1920s, Babe Ruth led the New York Yankees to a number of World Series title. This was one of the first big stepping stones for professional baseball in America. Another large milestone for baseball was the success of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson, who became the first African-American player in the major leagues in 1947. Then, in the 1950s, baseball expanded throughout the U.S. It was no longer just a game played in the eastern region of the United States. Western cities acquired teams by either persuading teams to move from Eastern cities or by forming expansion teams. The owners of baseball teams at one point virtually owned the players, but in the 1970s this was changed so that players were free to sell their services to any teams of their choosing.

Baseball is not only popular in the United States. It is believed that an American professor introduced baseball in Japan in 1870s. Up until the 1930s, Japanese baseball was predominantly made up of university leagues. In the 1930s, this changed with the beginning of professional Japanese baseball and the formation of the Japan Professional Baseball League. Baseball is also largely played in the Caribbean nations, especially Cuba. In fact, in the 1996 Olympics, the gold medal in baseball went to Cuba in a tight competition between Cuba and Japan.

Overall, baseball has affected people all throughout the world because of its rich history and its ability to bring people together – and that’s why it’s my favorite sport.

The MLB is Getting Desperate for Young Fans

When people think of America’s favorite sport, what comes to mind? The answer has always been, traditionally at least, baseball and it brings to mind halcyon days of playing catch during the summer and watching games with your family. However, this is no longer the truth. The truth is actually that interest in baseball is waning on a national level and the MLB is both fully aware of this and scrambling to come up with ways to shore up numbers and interest in a sport that many find both boring and unnecessary.

So what is leading to this decreasing interest and investment in baseball and the MLB? The fact is the matter is that it isn’t only older people who are losing interest in the sport. Fewer and fewer young people and children are caring about baseball and it’s the cause for all the concern. As the MLB known, the best way to get young people interested in a sport is to have them play it as a child and as less and less children are interested in little leagues and youth baseball, it’s translating to fewer adults being interested.

So how is the MLB responding to this crisis? The first of many plans is to possible change some of the rules regarding how the game is played in youth leagues across the country. Two changes being considered is 5 batters per inning, regardless of outs and automatically placing a runner on first at the beginning of an inning. The MLB is also creating a new youth initiative program called “Play Ball” that’s aimed at promoting youth engagement with the sport and getting more kids to play. With an emphasis on quicker play and more fun, the MLB is hoping that children will no longer see the sport as boring and that they will grow up to appreciate baseball, therefore going to games and continuing the sport’s popularity when they’re adults. While it’s not certain that strategy will work, something needs to be done before baseball continues to lose ground to other sports and becomes just a figment of the past.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

Four Sports Franchises With Painful Moves

I think it’s safe to say that sports are great. They provide joy to millions and allow a community to get together for a common cause and revel in the atmosphere. That being said, sports teams don’t really owe their fans any loyalty and they move at the whims of owners and business climates. With that in mind, here are 4 of the most painful moves sports franchises have put their fans through.sports

  1. The LA Rams move to St. Louis: While most people know the St. Louis Rams, they were a Los Angeles team first (which is hilarious because now they’re trying to go back to where they originally left). The Rams originally left LA in 1995, after reaching the Super Bowl with the city in 1979. With their fan base having more or less abandoned them by the time they moved (they had originally been moved to Anaheim), it’ll be interesting to see how they’re received when they go back to LA.
  2. Brooklyn Dodgers move to Los Angeles: The Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1957 and the loss is still painful for people who remember the team playing on the east coast. While they, along with the movement of the New York Giants, brought baseball to the west coast, that is a small consolation to the fans who had grown up loving and rooting for their local team. Plus they were incredibly successful in Brooklyn, something that hasn’t really happened in the same way since the move.
  3. Cleveland Browns move to Baltimore: While the Browns are back in Cleveland probably for good, they were moved to Baltimore for three years in 1995. Cleveland fans replied to the loss by setting fires in the newly revamped (in an attempt to keep the team around) stadium when the team left. Even though the team is back now, it has never recovered and are pretty terrible.
  4. Seattle Supersonics move to Oklahoma City: Even though the Seattle fans were known for buying out all the tickets to basically every game, the team was still moved. While it may be painful for Seattle fans, they should be happy knowing that the Thunder still haven’t won a championship, even though they have one of the best rosters in the league.

These are only four of the many painful franchise movements that have occurred since professionals sports burst onto the scene. If you’d like to read more, the link is here.