Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball (MLB) is the top level of the professional baseball system in North America. Each team draws on talent from their minor league affiliates along with international leagues to carry on America’s pastime. The league’s 30 teams are split into three divisions each within the American League and National League.
The National League dates back to 1876, while the American League was created in 1901. The two leagues oversaw their teams separately with the winners of both leagues competing in the World Series since 1903. The creation of MLB as baseball’s umbrella organization ushered in the creation and expansion of interleague series in 2002.
The evolution of rules in professional baseball favored hitters over time. The height of the pitcher’s mound was lowered for the 1969 season due to a dominating season by pitchers like Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals. The American League created the designated hitter rule in 1973 so that a full-time hitter would replace the pitcher’s spot in the lineup. Changes to the strike zone in 1969, 1988, and 1996 combined with umpire interpretations of the zone also aided hitters.
Notable MLB Players
The lengthy history of professional baseball means that notable players tend to cluster on great teams. The New York Yankees won four straight World Series from 1936 to 1939 with Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio powering their offense. The NL-winning St. Louis Cardinals in 1967 and 1968 featured exceptional players like Gibson, Lou Brock, and Curt Flood. The 1989 World Series champion Oakland Athletics powered their way to the title thanks to Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire.
The Live MLB Experience
Attending an MLB game is different from other sports due to the absence of a game clock. Each game covers at least nine innings with three outs required to advance from each half-inning. The average MLB game in 2018 lasted three hours and 4 minutes, though pitchers duels can cover less than three hours and extra-innings games can stretch beyond four hours. MLB teams use mascot races, interactive games between innings, and organ music to keep fans entertained over 81 home games.
Noteworthy MLB Events
Spring training kicks off the MLB season by attracting fans to preseason camps in Arizona and Florida. The MLB Draft each June allows teams to reload with high school and college players added to their minor league systems. In July, the MLB All-Star Game pauses the season for a home run derby and game between the best players in the American League and National League.
MLB Schedule Information
Each MLB team plays a 162-game schedule during the regular season. In February, players report to their teams prior to a month-long spring training camp. MLB’s Opening Day takes place in late March and the season wraps in late September. Unlike other sports, MLB teams play their games in series of three or four games rather than changing opponents from game to game. Teams play 19 games each against their division rivals, up to 66 games against the remaining 10 teams in their league, and 20 games against teams from the other league. The All-Star Game leads to a break of five days in mid-July.
MLB Postseason Information
The MLB playoffs start with a one-game playoff in each conference between two wild-card teams. The wild-card winner advances to play the division winner with the best record, while the two remaining division winners face each other. In the divisional round, teams play in best-of-five series to determine who advances to the league championship round. The winner of the American League and National League Championship compete in the World Series. The league championships and the World Series are best-of-seven series.
How to Buy MLB Tickets
The MLB’s long season means that the next season’s schedule is released toward the end of the previous season. The regular-season schedule is published in August and ticket sales typically start in November following the playoffs. SeatGeek provides a great platform for sifting through team schedules for affordable tickets.
MLB Ticket Prices
Baseball fans throughout the country enjoy some of the lowest ticket prices in professional sports. The average ticket price for an MLB game is $53. Weekday games and early-season matchups are known for offering great deals on tickets.