This page will contain blogs about Tom Waits, as they become available.|
Thomas Alan Waits, (born December 7, 1949) is an American composer, singer, musician and actor.
Born in Pomona, California, Waits' recording career began in 1971, after he relocated to Los Angeles and signed with Herb Cohen, manager of Frank Zappa, among others. After numerous abortive recording sessions, his first record, the melancholic, country-tinged Closing Time (1973) received warm reviews, but he first gained national attention when his "Ol' 55" was recorded by The Eagles in 1974. The Heart of Saturday Night showed his roots as a nightclub singer, half speaking and half crooning ballads, often with a soft jazz background. The 1975 album Nighthawks at the Diner, recorded in a studio but with a small audience to capture the ambience of a live show, captures this phase of his career, including the lengthy spoken interludes between songs that punctuated his live act.
Small Change (1976) featuring famed drummer Shelly Manne, was jazzier still, and songs such as "The Piano Has Been Drinking" and "Bad Liver and a Broken Heart" cemented his hard living reputation, with a lyrical style pitched somewhere between Raymond Chandler and Charles Bukowski. Foreign Affairs (1977) and Blue Valentine (1978) were in a similar vein, but showed further refinement of his artistic voice. 1980 saw the commencement of a long working relationship with Francis Ford Coppola, who asked him to provide music for his film One From The Heart. Waits would also act in Coppola's Rumblefish, The Outsiders, The Cotton Club and Dracula (as the insane Renfield), and work with such directors as Jim Jarmusch and Robert Altman. In August 1980, he married Kathleen Brennan, whom he had met on the set of One From The Heart. With his wife, he wrote and performed in Big Time, a slightly surreal concert movie. His wife is regularly credited as co-author of many songs on his later released albums, and is often cited by Waits as a major influence on his work.
1980s and later
After he left Asylum Records for Island Records in 1983, his music became less mainstream. His trio of albums from the mid-1980s, Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs and Frank's Wild Years, all featured some degree of eclectic instrumentation -- Waits' self described "Junkyard Orchestra"--often marrying soul music horn sections to avant-garde percussion reminiscent of Harry Partch's, or the distorted guitar of Marc Ribot. He also gradually altered his singing style, sounding less like the late-night crooner of the 70s, instead adopting a gravelly voice reminiscent of Howling Wolf and Captain Beefheart. The last of these albums -- an off-Broadway musical co-written with his wife -- and the later collaboration with William S. Burroughs on The Black Rider both demonstrated the increasing interest in theatre, which has resulted in a somewhat successful acting career as well as soundtrack work.
In the popular perception, however, he and his work remain mostly characterised by his rocky voice, his strong personality and theatrical presence on stage and the "late night smoky bars" humour of his texts ("I'd rather have a free bottle in front of me than a pre-frontal lobotomy."). Waits has been reported as having bipolar disorder. In essence, however, and despite his songs having been covered by famous stars such as Bruce Springsteen and Rod Stewart, Waits remains a cult performer, steadfastly outside the mainstream.
Waits has steadfastly refused to allow the use of his songs in commercials and has filed several lawsuits against advertisers who used his material without permission. The first lawsuit was filed in 1988 against Frito Lay, and resulted in a US$2.6 million judgement in Waits' favor. Frito Lay had approached Waits to use one of his songs in an advertisement. Waits declined the offer, and Frito Lay hired a Waits soundalike to sing a jingle similar to "Step Right Up," which is, ironically, a song Waits has called "an indictment of advertising."  (http://www.joe.trussell.com/waits/frito_lay.html) ("Step Right Up" concludes with the lyric "What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away").
In 1993, Levi's used Screamin' Jay Hawkins' version of Waits' "Heartattack and Vine" in a commercial. Waits sued, and Levis agreed to cease all use of the song, and offered a full page apology in Billboard Magazine.  (http://www.keeslau.com/TomWaitsSupplement/Copyright/copyrightwaitslevis.htm)
In 2000, an Audi commercial broadcast in Spain featured music very similar to Waits' "Innocent When You Dream", after Waits first had declined when they approached him about using the original. A Spanish court recognized there had been a violation of Waits’s moral rights, in addition to the infringement of copyright  (http://www.anti.com/news.php?newsid=86715). The production company, Tandem Campany Guasch, was ordered to pay compensation to Waits through his Spanish publisher.
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 (http://www.keeslau.com/TomWaitsSupplement/Copyright/copyrightwaitslevis.htm). Professional baseball leagues began to form in countries outside of America in the 1920s and 1930s, including the Netherlands (formed in 1922), Japan (1936), and Australia (1934). Waits sued, and Levis agreed to cease all use of the song, and offered a full page apology in Billboard Magazine. The thrilling playoffs of 2004 were highlighted by the Red Sox's epic comeback against the Yankees and resulted in what some have called the "New Golden Age" for baseball. In 1993, Levi's used Screamin' Jay Hawkins' version of Waits' "Heartattack and Vine" in a commercial. Since then, baseball has enjoyed another surge in popularity in America. Waits declined the offer, and Frito Lay hired a Waits soundalike to sing a jingle similar to "Step Right Up," which is, ironically, a song Waits has called "an indictment of advertising."  (http://www.joe.trussell.com/waits/frito_lay.html) ("Step Right Up" concludes with the lyric "What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away"). The popularity of baseball diminished greatly as a result, and fans were slow to return until the home run race of 1998 between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.
Frito Lay had approached Waits to use one of his songs in an advertisement. A series of strikes and lockouts began in baseball, affecting portions of the 1972 and 1981 seasons and culminating in the infamous strike of 1994 that led to the cancellation of the World Series. The first lawsuit was filed in 1988 against Frito Lay, and resulted in a US$2.6 million judgement in Waits' favor. Despite the popularity of baseball, the players became unsatisfied, as they believed the owners had too much control—a stance that many baseball fans found objectionable. Waits has steadfastly refused to allow the use of his songs in commercials and has filed several lawsuits against advertisers who used his material without permission. The middle of the century led baseball to the West of the United States and also became a time when pitchers dominated. Scoring became so low in the American League, due to pitching dominance, that the designated hitter was introduced; this rule now constitutes the primary difference between the two leagues. In essence, however, and despite his songs having been covered by famous stars such as Bruce Springsteen and Rod Stewart, Waits remains a cult performer, steadfastly outside the mainstream. Finally in 1947, Major League Baseball's color barrier was broken when Jackie Robinson was signed by the National League's Brooklyn Dodgers. Although it was not instantaneous, baseball has since become fully integrated.
Waits has been reported as having bipolar disorder. During the first half of the 20th century, a "gentlemen's agreement" effectively barred non-white players from the major leagues, resulting in the formation of several Negro Leagues. In the popular perception, however, he and his work remain mostly characterised by his rocky voice, his strong personality and theatrical presence on stage and the "late night smoky bars" humour of his texts ("I'd rather have a free bottle in front of me than a pre-frontal lobotomy."). This period, which has since become known as the "dead-ball era", ended in the 1920s with several rules changes that gave advantages to hitters and the rise of the legendary baseball player Babe Ruth, who showed the world what power hitting could produce. The last of these albums -- an off-Broadway musical co-written with his wife -- and the later collaboration with William S. Burroughs on The Black Rider both demonstrated the increasing interest in theatre, which has resulted in a somewhat successful acting career as well as soundtrack work. Compared to modern times, games in the early part of the 20th century were lower scoring and pitchers more successful. He also gradually altered his singing style, sounding less like the late-night crooner of the 70s, instead adopting a gravelly voice reminiscent of Howling Wolf and Captain Beefheart. While rivals who fought for the best players, the two major leagues began playing a World Series in 1903.
His trio of albums from the mid-1980s, Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs and Frank's Wild Years, all featured some degree of eclectic instrumentation -- Waits' self described "Junkyard Orchestra"--often marrying soul music horn sections to avant-garde percussion reminiscent of Harry Partch's, or the distorted guitar of Marc Ribot. Several other leagues formed and failed, but the American League, formed in 1893 as the Western League, did succeed. After he left Asylum Records for Island Records in 1983, his music became less mainstream. Professional baseball began in the United States around 1865, and the National League was founded in 1876. His wife is regularly credited as co-author of many songs on his later released albums, and is often cited by Waits as a major influence on his work. Alexander Cartwright published the first known list of rules in 1845 to meet the demands of the already popular sport, and today's rules of baseball have evolved from them. With his wife, he wrote and performed in Big Time, a slightly surreal concert movie. Baseball is thought to be a direct descendant of cricket, rounders, and town ball, though the game's origins are uncertain.
In August 1980, he married Kathleen Brennan, whom he had met on the set of One From The Heart. Main article: History of Baseball. Waits would also act in Coppola's Rumblefish, The Outsiders, The Cotton Club and Dracula (as the insane Renfield), and work with such directors as Jim Jarmusch and Robert Altman. Some hitters hit better with runners in scoring position, so an opposing manager, knowing this statistic, might elect to intentionally walk him in order to face a poorer hitter. 1980 saw the commencement of a long working relationship with Francis Ford Coppola, who asked him to provide music for his film One From The Heart. For example, a certain hitter's ability to hit left-handed pitchers might cause his manager to give him more chances to face lefties. Foreign Affairs (1977) and Blue Valentine (1978) were in a similar vein, but showed further refinement of his artistic voice. Also important are more specific statistics for a certain situation.
Small Change (1976) featuring famed drummer Shelly Manne, was jazzier still, and songs such as "The Piano Has Been Drinking" and "Bad Liver and a Broken Heart" cemented his hard living reputation, with a lyrical style pitched somewhere between Raymond Chandler and Charles Bukowski. Walks plus hits per inning pitched (or WHIP) gives a good representation of a pitcher's abilities; it is calculated exactly as its name suggests. The 1975 album Nighthawks at the Diner, recorded in a studio but with a small audience to capture the ambience of a live show, captures this phase of his career, including the lengthy spoken interludes between songs that punctuated his live act. It combines the hitter's on base percentage—hits plus walks plus hit by pitches divided by plate appearances—with their slugging percentage—total bases divided by at bats. The Heart of Saturday Night showed his roots as a nightclub singer, half speaking and half crooning ballads, often with a soft jazz background. On-base plus slugging (OPS) is a somewhat complicated formula that gauges a hitter's performance better than batting average. After numerous abortive recording sessions, his first record, the melancholic, country-tinged Closing Time (1973) received warm reviews, but he first gained national attention when his "Ol' 55" was recorded by The Eagles in 1974. Some sabermetrics have entered the mainstream baseball statistic world.
Born in Pomona, California, Waits' recording career began in 1971, after he relocated to Los Angeles and signed with Herb Cohen, manager of Frank Zappa, among others. However, the advent of sabermetrics has brought an onslaught of new statistics that better gauge a player's performance and contributions to his team from year to year. Thomas Alan Waits, (born December 7, 1949) is an American composer, singer, musician and actor. Traditionally, statistics like batting average for batters—the number of hits divided by the number of at bats—and earned run average—approximately the number of runs given up by a pitcher per nine innings—have governed the statistical world of baseball. Holly Cole, Canadian artist covering Waits' songs in jazz style. General managers, baseball scouts, managers, and players alike study player statistics to help them decide from various strategies to best help their team. Kazik Staszewski, Polish artist extensively covering Waits. Statistics have been kept for the Major Leagues since their creation, and presumably statistics were around even before that.
2004 Real Gone Tour. As with many sports, and perhaps even more so, statistics are very important to baseball. 1999 Get Behind The Mule Tour. Main article: Baseball statistics. 1987 Big Time touring. Because of this, there are all sorts of variations in parks, from different lengths to the fences to uneven playing surfaces to massive amounts of foul territory to quirks such as trains in the outfield. 1985 Rain Dogs touring. The official rules (http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/mlb/official_info/official_rules/foreword.jsp) simply state that fields built after 1958 must have a minimum distance of 325 feet from home plate to the fences in left and right field and 400 feet to center.
1980-1982 Heartattack and Vine touring. Unlike the vast majority of sports (with the exception of cricket and a few others), baseball parks do not have to follow a strict set of guidelines. 1978-1979 Blue Valentine touring. Main article: Baseball parks. 1977 Foreign Affairs touring. Meanwhile, they have very specific strategies for a single game and even down to the inning, the players who are due to bat, including the next pitch. 1975-1976 Small Change touring. away games.
1974-1975 The Heart Of Saturday Night touring. They have a broad set of goals for the season, but more specific strategies for the early part of the season, varying that by the team and even by home games vs. 1973 Closing Time touring. Teams develop a strategy to match this varying scope. 2004 Composer (with Kathleen Brennan) on soundtrack of "Shrek 2". The goals of a team vary across scope, from individual pitch to the season. 2003 Appeared in conversation with Iggy Pop in Coffee and Cigarettes: Somewhere In America. an intentional base on balls or a pitchout.).
1999 Mystery Men -- played an inventor who specialized in non-lethal weapons. Pitchers are sometimes given signals to throw a specific pitch, or even to avoid pitching to the batter at all (e.g. Composer on soundtrack of The End of Violence. a hit and run or sacrifice bunt), and sometimes are explicitly instructed not to swing. 1996 Composer on soundtrack of Dead Man Walking.
Renfield in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Pitchers will vary their approach with each time they see the same batter. Played R.M. Pitchers develop strategies on how to pitch to the batter by studying the batter's previous plate appearances throughout the year. 1992 Composer (With Kathleen Brennan) on American Heart.
Wrote the score of Night on Earth (With Kathleen Brennan). If the batter hits a line drive, the outfielder, as the last line of defense, makes the lone decision to try to catch it or play it on the bounce. Played a disabled Veteran beggar in The Fisher King. While their respective managers and/or coaches can sometimes signal players regarding the strategies the manager wants to employ, no one can help the pitcher while he pitches or the hitter while he bats. 1991 Played Wolf in At Play in the Fields of the Lord.
Composer on Sea of Love. Although the official rules specify that when the bases are empty, the pitcher should deliver the ball within 20 seconds of receiving it (with the penalty of a ball called if he fails to do so), this rule is rarely, if ever, enforced. Voice of the radio DJ in Mystery Train. In response, Major League Baseball has instructed umpires to be more strict in enforcing speed-up rules and the size of the strike zone. Starred as Kenny the Hitman in Cold Feet. This is due to longer commercial breaks, increased offense, more pitching changes, and a slower pace of play. 1989 Played the 'Punch & Judy Man' in Bearskin: An Urban Fairytale.
Played Al Silk in Candy Mountain. In recent decades, observers have criticized professional baseball for the length of its games, with some justification as the time required to play a baseball game has increased steadily through the years. 1987 Played Rudy The Kraut in Ironweed.
Played Bennie the pool hall owner in Rumble Fish. For example, if a batted ball is misplayed by a fielder, the scorer may choose to charge the fielder with an error instead of crediting the batter with a hit. 1983 Played Buck Merrill in The Outsiders.
1982 Soundtrack of One From The Heart. In Major League Baseball, four umpires are used for each game, one near each base. 1980 Worked with Francis Ford Coppola on the soundtrack to One From The Heart. Additional umpires may be stationed near the bases, thus making it easier to see plays in the field. 1978 Movie debut as 'Mumbles' in Paradise Alley. At a minimum, one umpire will stand behind the catcher, to have a good view of the strike zone, and call each pitch a ball or a strike. 2004 Step Right Up: The Songs of Tom Waits, various artists. Any baseball game involves one or more umpires, who make rulings on the outcome of each play.
2001 Wicked Grin, John Hammond. Baseball is unique in that the manager and coaches all wear numbered uniforms similar to those of the players. 2000 New Coat of Paint, various artists. These coaches must help the players decide whether they should try to run to the next base; also, the coaches will signal plays to the batter and runners. 1995 Step Right Up, various artists. When a team is at-bat, they will position a coach or manager in each coach's box referred to as the first and third base coaches. 1995 Temptation, Holly Cole. Managers are also assisted by coaches in helping players to develop their skills.
2004 The Late Great Daniel Johnston by various artists: Waits covers Johnston's "King Kong". Each team is run by a manager, whose primary responsibility during the game is to assign players to fielding positions, determine the lineup, and decide how to substitute players. 2004 The Ride by Los Lobos: Waits does vocals on the track "Kitate". A designated hitter does not play in the field on defense and may remain in the game regardless of changes in pitchers. 2002 For the Kids by various artists: Waits performs the lullaby "Bring Down the Branches". This is not considered a substitution but rather a position, albeit a purely offensive one. 2001 It's A Wonderful Life, by Sparklehorse: Waits does vocals on "Dog Door". Most leagues, notably Major League Baseball's American League, allow a designated hitter, a player whose sole purpose is to hit when it would normally be the pitcher's turn.
2000 Helium, by Tin Hat Trio: Waits appears as guest singer on Helium Reprise. Youth leagues often allow free and open substitution to encourage player participation. 1999 Antipop, by Primus: Waits does vocals on Coattails of a Deadman. Many amateur leagues allow a starting player who was removed to return to the game in the same position in the batting order under a re-entry rule. 1993 Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet, by Gavin Bryars: Waits appears as guest singer. This pinch hitter is typically then replaced by a relief pitcher when the team returns to the field on defense, but more complicated substitutions are possible, most notably the double switch. 1992 Beautiful Mess, by Thelonious Monster: Waits appears as a guest singer on Adios Lounge. Because pitching is a specialized skill, most pitchers are relatively poor hitters; it is common to substitute for a pitcher when he is due to bat.
1991 Sailing the Seas of Cheese, by Primus: Waits does character vocals on Tommy The Cat. It is common for a pitcher to pitch for several innings and then be removed in favor of a relief pitcher. 1998 Beautiful Maladies: The Island Years. Any replacement is a permanent substitution; the replaced player may not return to the game. 1993 The Early Years, Volume Two. A batter who replaces another batter is referred to as a pinch hitter; similarly, a pinch runner may be used as a replacement for a baserunner. 1991 The Early Years, Volume One. Each team is allowed to substitute for any player at any time, but no player, once removed from the game, may return.
1983 Anthology of Tom Waits (Elektra). During the "stretch," fans often sing the chorus of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game.". There is a short break between each half-inning during which the new defensive team takes the field and the pitcher warms up. Traditionally, the break between the top half and the bottom half of the seventh inning is known as the seventh-inning stretch. Rarely, a game can also be won or lost by forfeit. Some youth or amateur leagues will end a game early if one team is ahead by ten or more runs, a practice known as the "mercy rule" or "slaughter rule".
In Japanese baseball, if the score remains tied after nine innings, up to three extra innings may be played before the game is called a tie. Previously, curfews and the absence of adequate lighting caused more ties and shortened games. Inclement weather may also shorten games, but at least five innings must be played for the game to be considered official; four-and-a-half innings are enough if the home team is ahead. A tie game does not count as an official game in the standings unless it is finished later or replayed; however, individual player statistics from tie games are counted.
In Major League Baseball, games end with tie scores only because conditions have made it impossible to continue play. In Major League Baseball the longest game played was a 26-inning affair between the Brooklyn Robins and Boston Braves on May 1, 1920. The game ended in a 1-1 tie called on account of darkness. In theory, a baseball game could go on forever; in practice, however, they eventually end. Thus, the home team always has a chance to respond if the visiting team scores in the top half of the inning; this gives the home team a small tactical advantage.
As many innings as necessary are played until one team has the lead at the end of an inning. If both teams have scored the same number of runs at the end of a regular-length game, a tie is avoided by the addition of extra innings. If the home team is trailing or tied in the last inning and they score to take the lead, the game ends as soon as the winning run touches home plate; however, if the last batter hits a home run to win the game, he and any runners on base are all permitted to score. If the home team is ahead after eight-and-a-half innings have been played, it is declared the winner, and the last half-inning is not played.
A standard game lasts nine innings, although some leagues (such as minor leagues and high school baseball) use seven-inning games. The team with the most runs at the end of the game wins. An inning consists of each team having one turn in the field and one turn to hit, with the visiting team batting before the home team. In general, baserunning is a tactical part of the game requiring good judgment by runners (and their coaches) to assess the risk in attempting to advance. In tag plays, a good slide can affect the outcome of the play; even routine ground ball outs are recorded by a margin of less than a second.
The standard dimensions of a baseball field, with 90 feet (27.4 m) between bases, generate many close baserunning plays. If the runner attempts to steal the next base but is tagged out before reaching it safely, he is caught stealing. The pitcher, in lieu of delivering the pitch, may try to prevent this by throwing the ball to one of the infielders in order to tag the runner; if successful, it is called a pick-off. Baserunners may attempt to advance, or steal a base, while the pitcher is throwing a pitch.
Once they do this, they may attempt to advance at their own risk. When a ball is hit in the air, a fly ball, and caught by the defending team, runners must return and touch the base they occupied at the time of the pitch—called tagging up—after the ball is caught. Runners may attempt to advance from base to base on any fair ball that touches the ground. A runner who is touching a base which he is entitled to occupy is "safe"—he may not be tagged out.
Runners on second or third base are considered to be in scoring position since ordinary hits, even singles, will often score them. Once a batter gets a hit, a base on balls, or otherwise reaches base, he is said to be "on" that base until he attempts to advance to the next base, until he is put out, or until the half-inning ends. The goal of each batter is to become a baserunner himself (usually by a safe hit or a base on balls), or to help move other baserunners along. Main article: Baserunning.
If the pitcher, either intentionally or unintentionally, hits the batter, the umpire will declare a hit by pitch and the batter is awarded first base. A batter always drops his bat when running to first base—the bat otherwise would slow him down and also be a danger to fielders. If the batter puts the ball in play in fair territory, he becomes a baserunner, and must get to first base safely. This is called a base on balls or walk.
On the third strike the batter is declared out, a strikeout; on the fourth ball the batter is entitled to advance to first base without risk of being put out. If the batter has two strikes already, the batter is now out, charged with a strikeout. In the event that a batter makes contact with the ball, but the ball continues directly into the catchers mitt without striking the ground a foul tip is called and the batter is charged with a strike. If a pitch is batted foul and a member of the defensive team is able to catch it, before the ball strikes the ground, the batter is declared out.
Thus, a foul ball with two strikes leaves the count unchanged, though a ball that is bunted foul with two strikes always counts as a third strike. If the batter swings and makes contact with the ball, but does not put it in play in fair territory—a foul ball—he is charged with a strike, except when there are already two strikes. The number of balls and strikes thrown to the current batter is known as the count. If the ball passes through the zone, it is ruled a strike; otherwise, it is declared to be a ball.
If the batter does not swing, the home plate umpire judges whether or not the ball passed through the strike zone. On any pitch, if the batter swings at the ball and misses, he is charged with a strike. In addition to swinging at the ball, a batter who wishes to put the ball in play may hold his bat over home plate and attempt to tap a pitch very lightly; this is called a bunt. The pitches arrive fast, so the decision must be made in less than a second. This decision is largely based on whether or not the ball is in the strike zone, a region defined by the area directly above home plate and between the batter's knees and underarms.
With each pitch, the batter must decide whether or not to swing the bat at the ball in an attempt to hit it. Each plate appearance consists of a series of pitches, in which the pitcher throws the ball towards home plate while a batter is standing in the batter's box. Main article: Batting (baseball). After the opposing team bats in its own order and three more outs are recorded, the first team's batting order will continue again from where it left off.
Once the batter and any existing runners have all stopped at a base or been put out, the ball is returned to the pitcher, and the next batter comes to the plate. A batted ball which is not hit into the air, and which touches the ground within the infield before it can be caught, is called a ground ball. A batted ball is called a fly ball if it was hit in the air in a way causing the fielder to catch it on its descent, or a line drive if it is hit in the air, but almost level to the ground. Depending on the way the ball comes off the bat, the play has different names.
If a player has hit all four types of base hits in a single game, he is said to have "hit for the cycle." Once a runner is held to a base, he may attempt to advance at any time, but is not required to do so unless the batter or another runner displaces him. A hit that allows the batter to touch all bases in order on the same play is a home run, whether or not the ball is hit over the fence. A successful hit where the batter reaches only first base is a single; if he reaches second base, a double; or third base, a triple. Each player's turn at the plate is a plate appearance. When the batter hits a fair ball, he must run to first base, and may continue or stop at any base unless he is put out.
A runner may only circle the bases once per plate appearance and thus can score no more than a single run. They must leave the playing area until their spot in the order comes up again. Each team sets its batting lineup at the beginning of the game and may not change the order. Once a runner reaches home plate, they score a run and are no longer a base runner. The team at bat sends its nine players up to home plate as batters in an order called a lineup.
The ultimate goal of the team at bat is to score runs. Pitchers with a sidearm delivery are often some of the best in the game. Some pitchers choose to throw the 'submarine style,' which is a very efficient sidearm way of pitching. The act of throwing a baseball overhand at high speed is unnatural to the body and somewhat damaging to human muscles—pitchers are very susceptible to injuries and soreness, so baseball teams always have several pitchers.
Nevertheless, the average major-league pitcher can throw the ball up to ninety miles per hour (145 km/h), and a few pitchers have even exceeded 100 miles per hour (161 km/h). The pitcher must keep one foot in contact with the top or side of the pitcher's rubber—a 24" x 6" (~ 61 cm x 15 cm) plate located atop the pitcher's mound—during the entire pitch, so he cannot take more than one step forward in delivering the ball. Common pitches include a fastball, which is the ball thrown at a maximum velocity, a curveball, which is made to curve by rotation imparted by the pitcher, and a change up, which is a slower version of a fastball. Most pitchers attempt to master two or more pitches.
The pitcher's main weapon is the variation of his pitches, the three variables being accuracy, velocity, and movement. The record for the most pitcher used in a single nine-inning game for both teams is held between Houston and San Francisco with 16 pitchers. Pitchers are substituted for one another like any other player (see below), and the rules do not limit the number of pitchers that can be used in a game. Multiple pitchers are often needed in a single game, including the starting pitcher and members of the bullpen (an area where pitchers warm up before they play).
With new advances in medical research and thus a better understanding of how the human body functions and tires out, however, pitchers tend to throw only one game every five days. In previous eras, pitchers would often throw up to four complete games (all nine innings) in a week. A full game usually involves over one hundred pitches thrown by each team, and most pitchers begin to tire before they reach this point. Effective pitching is vitally important to a baseball team, as pitching is the key for the defensive team to retiring batters and runners to hold the other team at bat.
Main article: Pitching. Players often shift their positioning in response to specific batters or game situations, and they may exchange positions with one another at any time. The locations of the fielders are not specified by the rules. Also, the center fielder is considered the outfield leader, and left- and right-fielders should cede to his direction when fielding fly balls.
The center fielder has more territory to cover than the corner outfielders, so this player must be quick and agile with a strong arm to throw balls in to the infield; as with the shortstop, teams tend to emphasize defense at this position. The right fielder generally has the strongest arm of all the outfielders due to the need to make throws on runners attempting to take third base. The three outfielders are called the left fielder, the center fielder, and the right fielder, the positions being named from the catcher's perspective. Quick reaction time is also important for third basemen, as they tend to see more sharply hit balls than the other infielders.
This position is the most demanding defensively, so a good shortstop need not necessarily be a good batter. The third baseman's primary requirement is a strong throwing arm, in order to make the long throw across the infield to the first baseman. The shortstop fills the critical gap between second and third bases—where right-handed batters generally hit ground balls—and also covers second or third base and the near part of left field. The second baseman covers the area to the right of second base and provides backup for the first baseman. The first baseman also fields balls hit near first base, but because the position is less demanding than the others, the team's strongest hitter is often also their first baseman.
The first baseman's job consists largely of making force plays at first base on ground balls hit to the other infielders. Originally, the second baseman played very close to second base; this positioning shifted when teams found it necessary to have four infielders, rather than four outfielders. The second baseman and the shortstop position themselves in the gaps on either side of second base, toward first and third base, respectively. The first and third basemen play near their respective bases.
The four infielders are the first baseman, second baseman, shortstop, and third baseman. Catchers are also responsible for defense in the area near home plate. The catcher's main role is to receive the pitch if the batter does not hit it. Together with the pitcher and coaches, the catcher plots game strategy by suggesting different pitches and by shifting the starting positions of the other fielders. Pitchers also play defense by fielding batted balls, covering bases (for a potential tag out or force out on an approaching runner), or backing up throws.
The pitcher's main role is to pitch the ball toward home plate with the goal of getting the batter out. The remaining seven fielders may be positioned anywhere in fair territory, but the standard defensive alignment places four infielders at the edge of the infield and three outfielders in the outfield. This pair is often called the battery. The fielding team has a pitcher, who stands on the mound, and a catcher, who squats behind home plate.
The team in the field is the defensive team; they attempt to prevent the team at bat from scoring. See also: Baseball positions | Baseball positioning. A home run hit with all bases occupied is called a grand slam. In an enclosed field, a fair ball hit over the fence on the fly is normally an automatic home run, which entitles the batter and all runners to touch all the bases and score.
A baserunner who successfully touches home plate after touching all previous bases in order scores a run. The batter attempts to hit the ball into fair territory—between the foul lines—in such a way that the defending players cannot get them or the baserunners out. In general, the pitcher attempts to prevent this by pitching the ball in such a way that the batter cannot hit it cleanly. To that end, the goal of each batter is to enable baserunners to score or become a baserunner himself. The goal of the team at bat is to score runs; a player may do so only by batting, then becoming a base runner, touching all the bases in order (via one or more plays), and finally touching home plate.
Thus, a complete inning consists of each opposing side having a turn on offense. After the fielding team has put out three batters, that half of the inning is over and the team in the field and the team at bat switch places. There are many ways to get batters and baserunners out; some of the most common are catching a batted ball in the air, tag outs, force outs, and strikeouts. A player who is out must leave the field and wait for his next turn at bat.
Each half-inning, the goal of the defending team is to get three members of the other team out. Each pitch begins a new play, which might consist of nothing more than the pitch itself. The catcher's role becomes more crucial depending on how the game is going, and how the pitcher responds to a given situation. If the pitcher disagrees with the call, he will "shake off" the catcher by shaking his head no; he accepts the sign by nodding.
The catcher's job is to catch any ball that the batter misses or does not swing at, and, most importantly, to "call" the game by a series of hand signals to the pitcher what pitch to throw and where. The batter stands in one of the batter's boxes and tries to hit the ball with a bat. The pitcher throws—pitches—the ball towards home plate, where the catcher for the fielding team waits to receive it. The basic contest is always between the pitcher for the fielding team, and a batter.
At the start of the game, all nine players of the home team play the field, while players on the visiting team come to bat one at a time. In the case of a tie, additional innings are played until one team comes out ahead. The winner is the team with the most runs after nine innings. The teams switch every time the defending team gets three players of the batting team out.
In baseball, the defense always has the ball -- a fact that differentiates it from most other team sports. The game is played in nine innings in which each team gets one turn to bat and try to score runs while the other pitches and defends in the field. The other two sides of the diamond form the start of the foul lines, which extend straight, and form the boundary in the outfield as well. The field is divided into two main sections: the infield contains the four bases, and beyond two adjacent sides of the diamond there is an outfield.
Home base is a pentagonal rubber slab known as home plate. Numbered counter-clockwise, first, second and third bases are cushions (sometimes informally referred to as bags) shaped as 15-inch (38 cm) squares which are raised a short distance above the ground; together with home plate, the fourth "base," they form a square with sides of 90 feet (27.4 meters) called the diamond. There are four bases. There are usually four umpires in major league games; up to six (and as few as one) may officiate depending on the league and the importance of the game.
Baseball is played between two teams of nine players each on a baseball field, usually under the authority of one or more officials, called umpires. Although the three most popular team sports in North America are ball games (baseball, basketball and American football), baseball's popularity grew so great that the word "ballgame" in the United States almost always refers to a game of baseball, and "ballpark" to a baseball field. Among American television viewers, however, baseball has been surpassed in popularity (in terms of television ratings) by American football and auto racing. In the United States, baseball has often been called the national pastime; the total attendance for Major League games is roughly equal to that of all other American professional team sports combined.
In Japan, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Panama, South Korea, Taiwan and some other countries/areas, it is one of the most popular sports by any measurement. Baseball is popular in the Americas and East Asia. Scoring is accomplished by the batter running and touching a series of four markers on the ground called bases. Baseball is sometimes called hardball to differentiate it from the closely related sport of softball and other similar games. The ball itself is also called a baseball.
Baseball is a team sport, in which a fist-sized ball is thrown by a defensive player called a pitcher and hit by an offensive player called a batter with a round, smooth stick called a bat.