Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball

Baseball is an international sport played by young and old, amateurs and professionals. After Team USA failed to win the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics, Barry Bloom wrote in March 2009, “And now it can’t be ignored: The U. S. is no longer the undisputed leader of the game that was invented on its own soil. ” (Bloom, 2009) The World Baseball Classic, sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation and supported by professional baseball leagues from around the world, is the first international baseball tournament to feature players from major leagues around the world (International Baseball Federation, 2010).

The inaugural World Baseball Classic was played in 2006. The second was held in 2009, with tournaments to be held every four years (International Baseball Federation, 2010). Team Japan, Nippon Professional Baseball, won the first two World Baseball Classics while Team USA, Major League Baseball, finished sixth in 2006 and fourth in 2009. The basic objective in baseball is to win by scoring more runs than your opponent. Rule 1. 1 of Official Baseball Rules states, “Baseball is a game between two teams of nine players each, under direction of a manager, played on an enclosed field in accordance with these rules, under jurisdiction of one or more umpires. ” (Major League Baseball, 2010, p. 1). The infield is a 90 foot square and the pitchers mound is 60’6” from home plate.

The ball is round and “formed by yarn wound around a small core of cork, rubber or similar material, covered with white horsehide or cowhide, tightly stitched together. ” (Major League Baseball, 2010, p. ). The bat, one piece of solid wood, is a “smooth, round stick not more than 2. 61 inches in diameter at the thickest part and not more than 42 inches in length. ” (Major League Baseball, 2010, p. 6). While the rules and objectives are generally the same, just what differences exist between Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball? Major League Baseball is divided into two leagues with a total of thirty teams. The National League is comprised of sixteen teams and the American League is comprised of fourteen teams.

The thirty teams play a 162 game schedule and compete for eight post-season playoff spots and teams are named after the city or state they represent. In contrast, Nippon Professional Baseball is divided into two leagues with a total of twelve teams. Six teams comprise both the Central and Pacific Leagues. The twelve teams play a 144 game schedule and compete for six post-season playoff spots and the teams are named after the company that owns them. Major League Baseball games are scheduled for nine innings.

If the score is tied at the end of nine innings, play continues until a winner is determined; no matter how long it takes (Major League Baseball, 2010, p. 37). However, tie games are a possibility in Nippon Professional Baseball games. Similar to Major League Baseball, Nippon Baseball games are scheduled for nine innings. In contrast, if the score is tied at the end of nine innings, the teams play three additional innings. If no winner is determined, the game is called a draw (Williams, 2009).

Major League Baseball players and managers place an emphasis on home runs and pitching. Former Baltimore Orioles Manager Earl Weaver said, “The key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals, and three run homers” (Baseball Almanac, 2011). By contrast, Nippon Professional Baseball managers place less emphasis on home runs. Instead they focus more on the fundamentals of bunting, base running and fielding. Because of these differences, Nippon baseball games typically have closer and lower final scores (Hardcastle,

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2006).

Major League stadiums are standardized (Major League Baseball, 2010, p. 2). Infields and outfields are well-groomed grass or synthetic turf. Nippon Baseball stadiums, on the other hand, are smaller and irregularly shaped. The outfields are grass while almost all of the infields are dirt (Yates, 2005). While the rules are generally the same, Major League Baseball has more teams, plays more games, games do not end in a tie and teams are named after the city or state they represent.

Players and managers focus on home runs and pitching and the stadiums are standardized and infields well-groomed. On the other hand, Nippon Professional Baseball has less teams, play less games, allows ties and the teams are named after the company that owns them. The focus is on bunting, base running and fielding and the stadiums are smaller and most infields are dirt. No matter the similarities and differences, both Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball have the same objective. Score more runs than your opponent!

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