Major League Baseball (MLB) is the most popular professional baseball league in the world. It consists of teams that play in the American League and the National League. For over 100 years, the two leagues were separate legal bodies that often fought with each other. In year 2000, they buried all their hostilities and merged into a single organization called the Major League Baseball.
Right now there are 30 teams in MLB – 29 in the US and one in Canada. Of all the sports leagues in the US MLB is the most popular. In 2011, 73,451,522 fans attended the league matches.
There are 14 teams in the American League and 16 teams in the National League. Each League is further divided into three sub divisions – East, Central and West.
Both Leagues have the same set of rules and regulations. However, there is one exception. The American League operates under the Designated Hitter Rule. The National League does not have such a rule.
History of the Games
The ‘New York’ style baseball became a national game during the 1860s. The National Association of Baseball Players was formed during the same decade. However, it was not all that effective in controlling the clubs or players. In 1876, the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs was established. The National League allowed clubs to enforce player contracts. In also made it mandatory for clubs to play the full schedule of games.
The early years of the National League were eventful particularly because players revolted against the “reserve clause”, which restricted their free movement between clubs.
The current Major League Baseball season begins on the first Sunday in April and ends on the first Sunday in October. Each team has to play 162 games. Teams generally play six days per week. Sometimes games are held at night. In the weeks prior to the regular season, a series of practice and exhibition games are held in the name of spring training. The spring training gives new players an opportunity to showcase their skills. Spring training has always attracted large crowds. Spring training typically starts in mid-February. It runs until the season opening day which is traditionally the first Sunday in April.
The regular season ends on the first Sunday in October (or the last Sunday in September). Of the 30 teams that played in the regular season, ten teams will enter the post-season playoffs. Of these six teams are division champions. The remaining four are ‘wild-card’ entrants. In the post-season playoffs four rounds of games are played to determine the champion.