Baseball history shows that there was a lot interesting things before MLB becomes so popular. There is no need to repeat once again that traditional American sports in the US are not just interesting to people, but they use frenzied popularity. Baseball is not exception, and therefore MLB (Major League Baseball) is surely among the five best leagues in this field in all sports: for every match, on average, 30 thousand people go. Moreover, MLB is not just a high-quality and spectacular championship, but an inalienable American tradition and a part of the history of the country. For almost a hundred and fifty years, the world map, technologies and people have changed, but baseball and the quivering attitude towards the game have remained virtually untouched.
The starting point for the MLB baseball history is 1869, when the professional team of Cincinnati Red Stocks was formed, but the first official meeting within the league took place much later – seven years later in Philadelphia. Before that, for several seasons, the National Association gathered under its wing, but it did not last long – until 1875. And already in the next season appeared the National League, which is still active as one of the components of the MLB.
MLB is a very specific formation, because, for example, NHL or NBA are uniform, although they represent the union of two conferences. And the main baseball league is a union of two formally independent leagues. At the same time, the National, as the oldest, has a higher status with respect to the American one, founded in 1901, at a time when such organizations appeared and disappeared one after another. However, the end of this process was laid already in 1902 – then the American and National League signed an agreement on cooperation. And a year later, the first matches of the World Series were held, which is a full-scale clarification of the relationship between the winners of two leagues. The first triumphant was “Boston American” – the progenitor of today’s “Red Sox”.
In the early twentieth, baseball was dominated by conservatism, and the first 20 years of the new league’s
existence are called “Dead-ball era”. The rules gave more advantages to the defending team, and the game often turned from a dynamic spectacle into a tactical battle in which the attacking team barely managed to gain points. In such battles commanders became pitchers, giving the ball. Certainly, one of the greatest players of that era, and indeed of baseball in general, was Sai Yang, still holding the league record for the number of wins and matches played. Some of his achievements remain unbeaten for more than 100 years, and the name of the player since 1956 is the award given to the best season pitcher.
But since 1920 in the MLB begins “Live-ball era.” The rules of the game were reviewed in the direction of the attacking team, the balls became better, and it was much easier to make strong and accurate shots from now on. Accordingly, the matches themselves have become more spectacular and effective, and the new era has its own heroes. Their personification can be beating Babe Ruth, who committed 714 home runs (full runs) and 2,873 assists, which enabled him to score points for his teammates. Ruth along with Mohammed Ali was recognized as the athlete of the century in America, and many of his achievements, despite the development of technology, are still among the best.
Babe Ruth is considered the founder of the attacking baseball.
Permanent number 42 Jackie Robinson, of course, was an excellent baseball player, although he could not achieve the same impressive statistics as Young or Ruth. Nevertheless, Robinson’s contribution, not only in baseball, but throughout American history, is truly unique. No wonder his game number – 42 – league recently completely withdrew from circulation, and this is the first time such recognition of merit in the history of American sports. And the thing is that Jackie Robinson became the first black player in MLB, before him it seemed impossible. At the same time, Jackie did not confine himself to worrying about his own destiny: in many ways, thanks to his efforts, Blacks had the opportunity not only to play baseball, but also to engage in other sports, to make movies, to perform with their songs. It was thanks to Robinson that the white Americans realized that the blacks do not differ from them and are worthy of living, working and playing baseball.
Meanwhile MLB gradually expanded, teams moved from one large city to another, were created from scratch. The East Coast still remained the center of baseball battles, but its teams appeared in the west of the country. Accordingly, the popularity of the game around the world also grew. The increase in the number of fans was facilitated not only by the expansion of geography, but also by the improvement of technologies. Television, and then cable television, completely changed the world of baseball. In the sport of the river flowed new fans, players and money. Competition has grown, attention to the players, but salaries have also grown. Baseball was gradually turning into one of the spheres of business, the reverse side of which were strikes and doping scandals, which, however, attracted to the screens of new fans of the game.
The league, in its modern outlines, took shape in the 90s of the last century, when it included four new teams. Now MLB – this is 30 teams, 29 of which represent the United States, and one – “Toronto Blue Jays” – Canada. In the American and National leagues 15 teams per league, and there are also three regional zones: the West, the East and the Center, each of them has exactly five teams. It is also interesting that the historical legacy of the league is invaluable: more than half of the teams have played in MLB since its formation, that is more than 100 years, while everyone without exception recalls the past with pleasure – 22 teams of the league have the title of winners.
More than the rest in the MLB team won the “New York Yankees”, began its dominance in the American League in the 20s of the last century and received worthy competitors only in the late 60’s. During the existence of the “Yankees” 40 times they won their league and took part in the World Series. The team won in the decisive confrontation 27 times, for the first time in 1923 and for the last time in 2009. The closest pursuer, “Yankees” – “Cardinals” from St. Louis on the account only 11 triumphs in the MLB, and all the rest did not last until a dozen. However, for example, the Boston Red Sox is gradually approaching a two-digit mark: at the start of the new millennium, they had only five titles, and now eight, the last of which was earned only a few months ago.
What do you need to do to become the winner of the MLB? It’s simple: to start worthy to hold 162 matches of the regular season – more than anywhere else. In the NBA, they play half as much, and in the NFL, for example, 10 times less. However, it is difficult to name baseball, which is too energy-intensive from the physical point of view, that is why players can easily withstand almost daily meetings with rivals. Moreover, the matches are played in batches, and therefore the players are spared from constant long flights – with one team in one stadium there is a whole series of games at once. In the middle of the season, the Match of all the stars is held every year, carrying, among other things, the tournament load. The winning league team
provides the advantage of the home platform to its delegate to the main final – the World Series.
Winning inside the league is also valuable, but to defeat an opponent in the World Series is a matter of principle, so fighting to four wins always attracts a lot of interest. The fight for the triumph in MLB leads the best of the best: the winner of the American or National League is the team that finished the regular championship at least in fifth place, and after that managed to defeat all rivals in the three-stage tournament playoffs. Of course, the teams that finish in the table above get the advantage of their field, so they often go to the World Series. A striking example was last year’s tournament: “Red Sox” and “Cardinals”, who shared the main trophy, scored the most points in the round-robin tournament.
MLB is traditionally part of the “Big American Four” along with NBA, NHL and NFL. In this case, the popularity of baseball is not inferior to other sports from this quartet, and in many respects, on the contrary, it surpasses. For example, the cumulative attendance of all matches of the baseball league – in the first place. Of course, on the one hand, this is due to the large number of matches in the season, on the other – the relative cheapness of tickets. But one way or another, millions of people watch the MLB battles daily in the US alone. And not just watching, but also studying statistics, which in baseball means a lot. Dozens of different indicators, key and not very, – fans of other sports this is not even dreamed of.
And since it’s about the fans of the game, you can mention the most famous of them, those who worry about their favorite teams and repeatedly visited their matches. A complete list of famous baseball fans is perhaps worthy of a separate text, but briefly, here are the athletes (Magic Johnson, David Beckham, Michael Phelps), and the actors (Adam Sendler, Will Smith), and the singers (Jennifer Lopez and Avril Lavigne) and…. Of course the American presidents: the Bush family, by the way, supports different teams, and Barack Obama worries about the “Chicago White Sox.”
Baseball history keeps a lot of secrets inside, probably you will find some of them in my blog. Good luck!