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Major League Baseball

Major League Baseball

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Major League Baseball
Sport Baseball
Founded 1903
No. of teams 30
Country Image:Flag of the United States.svg United States
Image:Flag of Canada.svg Canada
Current champions St. Louis Cardinals
Official website

Major League Baseball (MLB) is the highest level of play in professional baseball. More specifically, Major League Baseball refers to the entity that operates North American professional baseball's two major leagues, the National League and the American League, by means of a joint organizational structure which has existed between them since 1903. On an organizational level, MLB effectively operates as a single "league", and as such it constitutes one of the major professional sports leagues of North America.

Major League Baseball is governed by the Major League Baseball Constitution, an agreement that has undergone several incarnations since 1876 then called the NL Constitution, with the most recent revisions being made in 2005. Major League Baseball, under the direction of its Commissioner, Bud Selig, hires and maintains the sport's umpiring crews, and negotiates marketing, labor, and television contracts. As is the case for most North American sports leagues, the 'closed shop' aspect of MLB effectively prevents the yearly promotion and relegation of teams into the Major League by virtue of their performance.

MLB as well 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 declared baseball is not considered interstate commerce (and therefore not subject to federal antitrust law), despite baseball's own references to itself as an "industry" rather than a "sport."

The production/multimedia wing of MLB is New York-based MLB Advanced Media , which oversees and all 30 of the individual teams' websites. Its charter states that MLB Advanced Media holds editorial independence from the League itself, but it is indeed 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.


[edit] Current Major League Clubs

The Major League regular season runs from late March or early April to late September or early October. Players and teams prepare for the season in spring training, primarily in Florida and Arizona, during February and March. Three rounds of playoffs follow the regular season, culminating in the World Series in late October or early November.

[edit] National League

Division Team City Stadium
East Atlanta Braves Atlanta, Georgia Turner Field
Florida Marlins Miami Gardens, Florida Dolphin Stadium
New York Mets Flushing, Queens, New York Shea Stadium 1
Philadelphia Phillies Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Citizens Bank Park
Washington Nationals Washington, D.C. Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium
Central Chicago Cubs Chicago, Illinois Wrigley Field
Cincinnati Reds Cincinnati, Ohio Great American Ball Park
Houston Astros Houston, Texas Minute Maid Park
Milwaukee Brewers Milwaukee, Wisconsin Miller Park
Pittsburgh Pirates Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania PNC Park
St. Louis Cardinals St. Louis, Missouri Busch Stadium
West Arizona Diamondbacks Phoenix, Arizona Chase Field
Colorado Rockies Denver, Colorado Coors Field
Los Angeles Dodgers Los Angeles, California Dodger Stadium
San Diego Padres San Diego, California PETCO Park
San Francisco Giants San Francisco, California AT&T Park

1 To be replaced in 2009 by a new stadium named "Citi Field."

View of a night game at Yankee Stadium Between the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins.

[edit] American League

Division Team City Stadium
East Baltimore Orioles Baltimore, Maryland Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Boston Red Sox Boston, Massachusetts Fenway Park
New York Yankees Bronx, New York Yankee Stadium2
Tampa Bay Devil Rays St. Petersburg, Florida Tropicana Field
Toronto Blue Jays Toronto, Ontario Rogers Centre
Central Chicago White Sox Chicago, Illinois U.S. Cellular Field
Cleveland Indians Cleveland, Ohio Jacobs Field
Detroit Tigers Detroit, Michigan Comerica Park
Kansas City Royals Kansas City, Missouri Kauffman Stadium
Minnesota Twins Minneapolis, Minnesota Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
West Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Anaheim, California Angel Stadium of Anaheim
Oakland Athletics Oakland, California McAfee Coliseum3
Seattle Mariners Seattle, Washington Safeco Field
Texas Rangers Arlington, Texas Ameriquest Field in Arlington

2 To be replaced in 2009 by a new stadium also named "Yankee Stadium."
3 To be replaced in 2007-2010 by a new stadium named "Cisco Field"

[edit] Teams and schedule

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At the time of writing, the Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig, has often floated the idea of international expansion and realignment of the major leagues. At the moment, however, the two major leagues are each split into three divisions and structured as listed in the tables above.

In all, there are 30 teams in the two leagues: 16 in the older National League ("NL") and 14 in the American League ("AL"). The leagues do not have the same number of teams because 15 teams in each league would force interleague play (or rest days) every day. Each has its teams split into three divisions grouped generally by geography. They are (number of teams in each division in parenthesis): NL East (5), NL Central (6), NL West (5), AL East (5), AL Central (5), and AL West (4).

Each team's regular season consists of 162 games, a duration established in 1961 in the American League and 1962 in the National League. From 1904 into the early 1960s, except for 1919, a 154-game schedule was played in both leagues (7 opponents X 22 games apiece). Expansion from 8 to 10 teams in each league in the early 1960s resulted in a revised schedule of 162 games (9 opponents X 18 games apiece, initially) in their expansion years, for the American League in 1961 and the National League in 1962. Although the schedule remains at 162 games to this day, the layout of games played was changed when Divisional play began in 1969, so that teams played more games against opponents within their own division than against the other division or (beginning in 1997) the other league.

Unplanned shortened seasons were played in 1918 due to the United States entering World War I, and in 1972, 1981, 1994 and 1995 due to player strikes and lockouts. A 140-game schedule (7 X 20) was played in 1919, and the schedule before 1904 varied from year to year.

Games are played predominantly against teams within each league through an unbalanced schedule which heavily favors intra-divisional play. In 1997, Major League Baseball introduced interleague play, which was criticized by the sport's purists but has since proven very popular with most fans. The interleague games are confined to the mid-summer months. Typically many intra-division games are scheduled toward the end of the season, anticipating the possibility of close divisional races and heightened fan interest.

Each year in June, Major League Baseball conducts a draft for first-year players who have never signed a Major or Minor League contract. The MLB Draft is among the least followed of the professional sports drafts in the United States, possibly because other professional sports drafts feature players who will immediately start to play for the team they are drafted by that next year, whereas the MLB has an extensive minor league system to help players mature and hone their skills to be able to compete with those in the major leagues.

For a detailed history of the length of the regular season, see Major League Baseball season.

[edit] Major League race and origin

At the start of the 2006 season, there were 744 players on opening rosters, of which were:

[edit] Team names

In American professional sports (and usually amateur sports as well), a generally standardized and marketing-oriented structure has evolved for the names, and thus the identies, of individual clubs. The structure involves three elements: a geographical designator, traditionally the name of the team's city, although in recent decades the team's state or region has sometimes been used; team colors, always a part of sports, and a carryover from heraldry; and a nickname, usually connected with either a mascot, the team's colors, or a feature unique to the region or to the club. This approach contrasts with some non-American sports, such as European soccer, in which team names need not necessarily follow a particular pattern, or Asian professional baseball, which generally follows a "corporate sponsor" name followed by a "nickname". The pattern began with early organized baseball clubs and has been extended from there to almost all U.S. professional clubs.

The regional component is necessary in order to eliminate any confusion; for example, the Chicago Bulls vs. the Durham Bulls; the Boston Bruins vs. the UCLA Bruins; the University of Kentucky Wildcats vs. the Northwestern University Wildcats; or the Boston Red Sox vs. the Cincinnati Reds, whose nicknames actually have a common history.

Originally, gentlemen's athletic clubs were key movers in the development of organized baseball, so early prominent teams were simply named after the clubs that formed them: Athletic Club, Mutual Club, Olympic Club, Forest City Club, Kekionga Club, Atlantic Club, Western Club. By 1871, with the formation of the National Association, clubs no longer just competed with local rivals, but with the best clubs from other cities around the northeast. Thus, geographic designators were sometimes added, establishing the now familiar pattern (only reversed): Athletic of Philadelphia, Mutual of New York, Olympic of Washington, Forest City of Cleveland, Kekionga of Fort Wayne, Atlantic of Brooklyn, Western of Keokuk.

By 1876, when the National League entered play, baseball clubs were no longer primarily associated with gentlemen's athletic clubs, and most of the original teams were named after the one uniform feature that served to distinguish them on the field -- the color of their stockings. Thus: Boston Red Stockings, Chicago White Stockings, Cincinnati Red Stockings, Hartford Dark Blues, Louisville Grays, St. Louis Brown Stockings. The 1876 New York and Philadelphia clubs still held over the traditional "Mutual" and "Athletic" names, and were usually so referenced in the standings. The plural usage seen sometimes, "Mutuals" or "Athletics", was equivalent to the "Chicagos" or the "Bostons". Modern historians have often retrofitted these names in the modern style, such as "New York Mutuals", which is technically incorrect. "Mutual" was the actual name of the team, and the club had separate "nicknames" that referred to the team colors in a given year, such as "Green Stockings".

Throughout this period, club nicknames were ad hoc, bestowed and used at will by sportswriters and fans. Nicknames became associated with particular cities, and fans tended to refer to the local team by this name, even if it was not associated in a corporate fashion with its predecessor. Thus, multiple, unassociated teams used names such as Boston Red Stockings, Chicago White Stockings, Cincinnati Red Stockings, St. Louis Brown Stockings, Louisville Grays, Baltimore Orioles, and the like.

Early in the 20th century, the club nickname began to acquire a more important status, eventually an official status, being designated by the club ownership and ultimately used as part of the club's marketing efforts. Sometimes a club would change its nickname or adopt an official name that superseded one or more unofficial names in the past. An example would be the Boston Braves, who were tagged with various nicknames prior to officially adopting "Braves" as their name and mascot. Sometimes such a name change did not catch on with the press and public, which is why there is no longer a "Philadelphia Blue Jays" nor a "Boston Bees". The original Washington Senators were officially the "Washington Nationals" for many decades, but the alternate nickname "Senators" persisted, "Nationals" faded, and the team finally, officially became the "Senators" in the late 1950s. (With modern marketing strategies, such a fate is less likely to befall the current Washington Nationals.)

In contrast, the Brooklyn Dodgers began by adopting the old "Atlantic" designation, then was dub the "Bridegrooms" for awhile, then the "Trolley Dodgers", then the "Superbas", then the "Robins" (for their manager, Wilbert Robinson), although the alternate nickname "Dodgers" persisted from the moment the team acquired that tag. The Dodgers did not actually put that name on their uniforms until the 1930s. Sometimes teams have changed their nicknames for marketing or other reasons. For example, the Houston Colt .45s became the Houston Astros in 1965.

Team colors are sometimes tied in with a team's name, and sometimes they are changed for marketing reasons. The Chicago Cubs have consistently worn a bright blue for many decades now, whereas the Chicago White Sox have changed colors many times during that interval, at one time wearing red stockings, and in recent years wearing black hosiery.

Several of the established baseball teams inspired football teams (who were often the baseball teams' tenants) to name them after the ball club. For example, in the National Football League, the Chicago Bears were named for the Chicago Cubs, according to legend because Bears' owner George Halas reasoned that football players are larger than baseball players, and bears are larger than cubs. Some NFL teams were named directly for their landlords, such as the New York Giants.

[edit] Major League Baseball uniforms

The official rules of Major League Baseball require that all players on a team wear matching uniforms, although this rule was not in force in the early days. Originally, teams were primarily distinguished by the colors of their stockings and the success of the Cincinnati Red Stockings popularized the adoption of sock color as the explicit identity of the club. The 1876 Chicago White Stockings actually wore caps of different colors. In 1882, the National League assigned stocking colors to the member clubs: red for Boston, white for Chicago, grey for Buffalo, blue for Worcester, gold for Detroit, green for Troy, and so on. That year, the league also assigned jersey and cap colors, but by player position rather than by club.

Traditionally, when playing at home, teams wore uniforms that were mostly white with trim in team colors and when playing away, they wore uniforms that were mostly gray with trim in team colors. Aside from the obvious need to distinguish one team from the other, conventional wisdom held that it was more difficult to properly launder uniforms while on a road trip, thus the "road grays" helped to hide accumulated soil. This convention continued well after its original premise was nullified by the issuance of multiple uniforms and the growth of the laundromat industry. Starting in the 1970s, with the advent of synthetic fabrics, teams began using more color in their uniforms, notably the Oakland Athletics in the early 1970s and the Houston Astros in the mid-1970s. In the late 1970s, the Pittsburgh Pirates began a trend of multiple combinations of differently colored jerseys and trousers and caps (with the options of black, yellow, and white with pin stripes).

Starting in the 1990s, MLB clubs began heavily marketing licensed goods, such as caps and uniform jerseys to the public and this has resulted in a wide array of uniforms for each team. Now, some teams have not only a basic home uniform and away uniform, but also special "Sunday game" uniforms and uniforms that are worn only during batting practice and uniforms worn on singular events. On several occasions, MLB has instituted nostalgia events, during which teams wore uniforms from the past.

The result is that it is now often difficult to say which uniform is a team's "official" one. For example, the Cincinnati Reds now wear a variety of caps: all red, red crown and black bill, black crown and red bill, and all black. In contrast from the pre-1990s era, in which there usually was just one home uniform and one road uniform (with certain exceptions, such as Oakland and Pittsburgh's complex combinations), today choices of what combination of uniform elements are worn are now sometimes left up to players. In some cases, aspects of the uniform that are considered official are now rarely worn, such as the New York Mets' all-blue home cap, which is rarely seen on the field today in favor of an "alternate" black-and-blue cap.

The official rules state that:

  • All players on a team must wear identical uniforms during a single game.
  • Numbers: All players must wear their uniform numbers on the back of the uniform
  • Undershirt: If the undershirt is exposed then all the players on the team must wear matching ones. Numbers or other devices may be worn on the sleeve of the undershirt (for example, if it is worn with a sleeveless jersey), except that pitchers may not have such devices on their undershirt sleeves.
  • The league office might require that each team have a single uniform for all games or requires that each team have a single, white home uniform and a single, non-white away uniform. With the elimination of the separate American League and National League administrations, it is unknown what the effectiveness of this rule now is.
  • Sleeve length: The rules allow for minor variation in sleeve length, but they must be "approximately the same length" and the sleeves may not be "ragged, frayed or slit."
  • No attachments: Tape or other attachments of non-matching color may not be used on uniforms.
Image:Logo phi80 79x76.gif
Former Phillies Logo (1970-1992) with similar baseball-shaped image
Milwaukee logo (1978-1993) used apparently in violation of MLB rules (violation was no "pattern that imitates or suggests the shape of a baseball")
*No images of baseballs: No "pattern that imitates or suggests the shape of a baseball" may be used on uniforms. Notably, in apparent violation of this rule, the Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies for many years had logos that incorporated the image of a baseball. The Brewers logo has made a comeback in 2006 on the hats of the Brewers' Sunday home uniforms. Also, many teams such as the Giants use sleeve logos that clearly depict a baseball, so it may be that the rule is not enforced. (The purpose of this rule is to prevent one team from deceiving the other. The National Football League has a similar rule, which states that no pattern that imitates or suggests the shape of a football).
  • No glass buttons or polished metal
  • No commercial advertisements on uniforms. This rule is in variance with professional sports, especially outside the United States (notably soccer), in which it is customary for uniforms to prominently display the logo of a sponsoring company.
  • Names: "A league may provide that the uniforms of its member teams include the names of its players on their backs. Any name other than the last name of the player must be approved by the League President. If adopted, all uniforms for a team must have the names of its players." Again, with the elimination of separate administrations for the American and National leagues, it is unknown what the provenance of this rule is. (Currently, Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners is the only player to have his given name rather than his family name displayed on the back his uniform. Vida Blue also used his first name on the back of his uniform when he played for the San Francisco Giants in the mid-1980s). The Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants do not display their players' names on their home uniforms (The Yankees and Dodgers also don't display them on their road uniforms), although the Cubs and Dodgers will return names to the back of all their uniforms in 2007. The New York Mets used alternate home uniforms without last names for several years in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

On game days that do not require a special uniform (either by team or MLB request) it is generally (but not always) the starting pitcher for a team that chooses the uniform to be worn for that day's game.

[edit] All-Star Game

Early July marks the midway point of the season, during which a three day break is taken when the Major League Baseball All-Star Game is staged. The All-Star game pits players from the NL, headed up by the manager of the previous NL World Series team, against players from the AL, similarly managed, in an exhibition game. The 2002 contest ended in an 11-inning tie because both teams were out of pitchers, a result which proved highly unpopular with the fans. As a result, for a two-year trial in 2003 and 2004, the league which won the game received the benefit of home-field advantage (four of the seven games of that year's World Series taking place at their home park). The 2005 contest, played in Detroit, followed this format, and it is expected that it will remain that way until MLB says otherwise, since it has become popular with fans but has upset purists over the previous format of the two leagues alternating home-field advantage every other year. The Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox took some advantage of the rule in 2004 and 2005 respectively, as each team started the Series with two home victories, giving them good momentum for a sweep. However, the rule did not help the Yankees in 2003, as they lost the Series to Florida in 6 games, or the Detroit Tigers in 2006 as they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in 5 games.

Since the 1970s, the eight position players for each team who take the field initially have been voted into the game by fans. The remaining position players and all of the pitchers on each league's roster were, for a large number of years, solely at the discretion of that team's manager. In 2004, however, MLB instituted a system where some reserves and pitchers were selected by a vote of MLB players, and some were selected by the manager after consulting with the Commissioner's Office. Each person is allowed to vote 25 times. By MLB regulation, every team in the majors must have at least one designated all-star player, regardless of voting. This rule exists so that fans of every team have a player to watch for in the All-Star Game. The 2007 All-Star Game will be played in San Francisco at AT&T Park.

[edit] Post-season

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 game series;
  2. American League Championship Series and National League Championship Series, each a best-of-seven game series played between the surviving teams from the ALDS and NLDS; and
  3. World Series, a best-of-seven game series played between the champions of each league.

The division winners are seeded 1-3 based on record. The wild-card team is the 4 seed, regardless of its record. The matchup for the first round of the playoffs is usually 1 seed vs. 4 seed and 2 seed vs. 3 seed, unless the wild-card team is from the same division as the 1 seed, in which case the matchup is 1 seed vs. 3 seed and 2 seed vs. 4 seed, as teams from the same division cannot meet in the 1st round. In the first and second round of the playoffs, the better seeded team has home-field advantage, regardless of record.

In the event of a tie in the standings at the close of the regular season, league rules provide for a one-game playoff (with the home field determined by coin flip) to determine which of two teams participate in the Division Series. If three teams are involved in a tie, a two-game playoff may be played. If two teams are tied, but a tiebreaker would result in both participating in the Division Series anyway (due to one being division champion and the other being wild card), then no playoff is played and seedings are determined by head-to-head record.

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

[edit] MLB steroid policy

Over most of the course of Major League Baseball, steroid testing was never a major issue. However, after the BALCO steroid scandal, which involved allegations that top baseball players had used illegal performance-enhancing drugs, Major League Baseball finally decided to issue harsher penalties for steroid users. The policy, which was accepted by Major League Baseball players and owners, was issued at the start of the 2005 season and went as follows:

A first positive test resulted in a suspension of 10 games, a second positive test resulted in a suspension of 30 games, the third positive test resulted in a suspension of 60 games, the fourth positive test resulted in a suspension of one full year, and a fifth positive test resulted in a penalty at the commissioner’s discretion. Players were tested at least once per year, with the chance that several players could be tested many times per year. (See: List of Major League Baseball players suspended for steroids)

This program replaced the previous steroid testing program under which, for example, no player was even suspended in 2004. Under the old policy, which was established in 2002, a first-time offense would only result in treatment for the player, and the player would not even be named. The 2005 agreement changed this rule so that first-time offenders were named and suspended.

In November 2005, MLB owners and players approved even tougher penalties for positive tests than the ones in place during the 2005 season. Under the new rules, a first positive test would result in a 50-game suspension, a second positive test would result in a 100-game suspension, and a third positive test would result in a lifetime suspension from MLB.

These new penalties are much harsher than the previous ones. The new steroid policy finally brings MLB closer in line with international rules, as well as with the NFL, which has long taken a tough stance on those caught using steroids.

MLB's previous reluctance to take a hard line on drugs (as many other sports featured far stricter testing and penalties) was widely seen as one of the main reasons why baseball has been dropped from the Olympics, effective in 2012.

On March 30, 2006, Bud Selig launched an investigation on the alleged steriod use by players such as Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, and Gary Sheffield as the weight of books like Game of Shadows emerged. The inquiry into steroids' use in baseball is expected to go back no further than 2002, when the MLB started testing players for performance-enhancing drugs.

[edit] MLB blackout policy

Major League Baseball has several blackout rules. Games are blacked out based on two criteria:

  • A local broadcaster has priority to televise games from the team in their market over national broadcasters. For example, TBS shows many Atlanta Braves games nationally and internationally in Canada. Fox Sports Net (FSN) also shows many games in other areas. If the Braves play a team that FSN or another local broadcaster shows, the local station has the rights for their own local market, TBS will be blacked out for the duration of the game for everyone in the zip code of the market of the team playing against the Braves. 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, 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.
  • FOX has certain rights for afternoon MLB games on Saturdays, and ESPN has the same rights for night games on Sundays. Broadcasters cannot show games of in-market teams regardless of if the game is home or away if the game of the local team has a certain start time (usually there are no other games scheduled at these times). This is to make people watch the out of market game on ESPN or FOX. The reasoning is that since people will not be able to watch their favorite team, they may be willing to settle for some baseball, even if it involves teams they are not as excited about. This results in higher ratings for the national broadcaster by pulling baseball fans away from watching their own team.

[edit] References

[edit] National broadcasts

Major League Baseball is in the transition to a new set of television contracts. The league has three current broadcast partners for the 2007 season and beyond.

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 current May to September format. 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 Tuesday 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. ESPN will continue to broadcast Sunday Night Baseball, Baseball Tonight, and a new Monday Night Baseball program. ESPN also has rights to the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game each July.

TBS will begin broadcasting playoff baseball nationally in 2007. It is currently a broadcast partner of the Atlanta Braves, but will end its national Braves broadcasts after the 2007 season as it will air Sunday afternoon regular season games from across the MLB, which can include up to 13 Braves games, nationally from 2008 to 2013 under the new contract. TBS will also have 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, as well as exclusive coverage of the Division Series round of the playoffs. Locally, in the Atlanta market, TBS will continue to air 45 Braves games per season from 2008 to 2013 after it airs its final 70 national Braves broadcasts in 2007. It was announced on October 17, 2006 that TBS would carry the League Championship Series that are not included under FOX's television agreement. TBS would show 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.

[edit] References

An official major league baseball

[edit] Historical major leagues

In 1969, the official centennial of professional baseball, the Special Baseball Records Committee appointed by Major League Baseball recognized six "major leagues" in history, four defunct and two still in operation.

Some researchers contend that some other leagues deserve "major league" status, too.

Indeed, the Official Encyclopedia of Baseball published in 1951 (a jubilee year) and revised since then recognized the NA as a major league. But a new Baseball Encyclopedia project made possible by the digital computer promised publication of far more detailed playing records.

In general, the SBRC ruled that the other leagues kept playing records inconsistently or lacked significant direct impact on the major leagues.

Specifically, the following can be said of these leagues:

  • The National Association was the direct precursor of the NL, six of whose eight charter members came from the NA of 1875, and it is generally considered the first professional league. The standard position is that it was a "transitional" organization not quite up to major league standards. The NL was a wholly new entity that took the best of the NA and imposed a discipline that was lacking in the failed NA.
  • The AL of 1900 was located in four only of the eight cities it would be occupy in the following year. It accepted minor status and did not conduct raids on major league rosters. That changed in 1901.
  • The Negro Leagues are the toughest call. Some historians have labeled their time the era of "shadow ball", a segregated parallel to the (all-white) major leagues. The fact that many young players were able to enter MLB in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and have immediate impact, argues for major status in one sense. On the other hand, it may be argued that the Negro Leagues were closer in quality of play to the highest levels of minor league ball such as the Pacific Coast League. It is a debate that has no clear resolution, which is why most historians are content to simply regard them as a category unto themselves.

At the same time, some historians question whether the Union Association of 1884 should be considered "major", because it had only one major-league caliber team (St. Louis) and several clubs failed during the season mid-season, others taking their places. Beside that MLB recognition which the Unions enjoy as a matter of fact, any argument for major status rests chiefly on the Union Association's direct impact on the other majors, due to roster-raiding. None of the "non-major" other leagues listed here could make that claim.

The Sporting News, a weekly established in 1886 and later an important publisher of books, did not recognize the Federal League of 1914-1915 for almost ninety years.

[edit] Other major baseball leagues

Numerous major professional baseball leagues exist throughout the world. The most prominent of these and the most directly comparable to Major League Baseball in real terms (number of teams, organization, funding and caliber of play) are the Central League and Pacific League of Nippon Professional Baseball. Many Japanese baseball teams have played and continue to play exhibition games against their American counterparts, and a number of players have career numbers in both the Japan Professional Baseball League and Major League Baseball.

[edit] See also

Further information: Category:Years in baseball

[edit] Players, ownership, ballparks and officials

[edit] Statistics, milestones and records

[edit] Post-season awards

[edit] In-season awards

[edit] Exhibition and playoffs

[edit] References

[edit] External links



Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Toronto Blue Jays


Chicago White Sox
Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Minnesota Twins


Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Oakland Athletics
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers


Atlanta Braves
Florida Marlins
New York Mets
Philadelphia Phillies
Washington Nationals


Chicago Cubs
Cincinnati Reds
Houston Astros
Milwaukee Brewers
Pittsburgh Pirates
St. Louis Cardinals


Arizona Diamondbacks
Colorado Rockies
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants

World Series      |     NLCS    |    ALCS    |     NLDS    |     ALDS    |     All-Star Game
MLB awards  |  Hall of Fame  |  MLBPA  |  Negro Leagues  |  Minor Leagues 
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