The Sidepodcast community will live comment its first baseball match at 19:00 (GMT +1), 14:00 (EST) today. Other than to enjoy the game the reason for this live session is to allow Mr C to get a grasp of the game and decide whether he should buy the app, subscribe to the TV station and see if he can figure out the on screen graphics and potential to create graphs from all the stats. I know there will be people watching their first ever game but it is far easier for those with some knowledge to explain the game as it happens rather than to try to do it all in this post. It is a simple game but with lots of complication and subtleties thrown in like most sports.
The game is the 4th of a possible 5 in the American League Division Series (ALDS). The baseball season has a regular season where each team plays 162 games. The teams are split into the American League and the National League with each league split into 3 divisions. The winners of each division and the second placed team with the best record qualify for the ALDS and NLDS. These series are contested over up to 5 games with the first team to win 3 going through to the next round of playoffs.
Texas qualified by winning the American League west division by winning 96 of 162 games. Tampa qualified by finishing second to the New York Yankees in the east division with 91 victories. The first two games were played at Texas with Tampa winning the first game 9 runs to 0 and Texas winning the second 8 runs to 6. The third and fourth games are played in Tampa with the fifth, if necessary, going back to Texas. The third game was last night with Texas winning 4 runs to 3 by so if Texas win tonight they go through to the next stage but if Tampa wins the series goes to the 5th game so tonight’s result is absolutely vital.
The winner of this series will play the winner of the similar series contested by the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers. Detroit leads that series 2-1 just now and if they win one of the remaining two games the Yankees who had the best record in the American League regular season go out. Then the winner of that series will play in the World Series against the winners of the parallel serieseses in the National League.
We are used to FOM/FIA providing us with very poor live data but baseball is on a whole different planet. Every pitch that is thrown is not only shown graphically but is accompanied by all the data you could ever need including the speed of the ball, the path the ball took etc. I won’t go in to much detail but you can find all the relevant info at atmlb.com
Despite the fact that many players are involved in each game the theory is that pitching wins baseball games and each game is viewed as a contest between the starting pitchers. Tonight they are Jeremy Hellickson for Tampa and Matt Harrison for Texas. Each team starts with 9 players plus the pitcher but during the game there can be many substitutions. The only important rule here is once a player has been replaced he cannot return to the game. When a team is not batting it has a pitcher and 8 fielders. In the National League the pitchers bat but they do not in the American League. So each team has a player known as the designated hitter or DH who bats but doesn’t field.