When I got an invitation to a World Series party recently, I immediately RSVPed an enthusiastic "yes!" because I love a good party! It was only afterward that I realized I don't know very much about baseball, let alone the World Series. So it's time to cram because I'm determined to not be clueless as usual for this year's series. If you're sports-challenged like I am, I hope this info will help you get in on the conversation when the big games arrive instead of just commenting on the delicious nachos and how cute the players are. Which is OK too, if you ask me.
The World Series, also known as the Fall Classic because it's always played in October, began in 1903 and is Major League Baseball's annual post-season championship series. To really bring it back to the basics, Major League Baseball, the highest-level professional baseball league in North America, consists of 30 teams divided between the American and National Leagues. The winner of each league goes on to play the World Series. When the Fall Classic first began, the format was best five out of nine games. It quickly changed to best four out of seven, which is what it still is today.
Know the Lingo
The truth is that every industry has its own lingo, and baseball is no exception. If you don't know it, of course, following the game can get tricky pretty fast. There's an endless amount of jargon to learn but here are a few essentials that will get you through the World Series without feeling completely lost...
Ball: when the pitcher throws the ball but it doesn't cross the plate and the hitter doesn't swing at it
Bases loaded: when there is a player on every base
Fastball: a ball that usually has a top speed of over 100mph
Home run: when a batter hits a ball into the stands or out of the park and is able to run to first, second, third, and home base to score a run
Meatball: an easy pitch to hit
Runs: points scored by a team when a player crosses home plate; one point per run
Southpaw: a left-handed pitcher
Strike: when the hitter misses a pitch that goes over the plate
Switch-hitter: someone who hits both left handed and right handed
Top/bottom of the inning: the top or first half of the inning is always batted by the visiting team, and the bottom or second half of the inning is always batted by the home team.
twin killing: a double play
whiff: strikeout, or when the player has 3 strikes
Learning to read the scoreboard is a valuable skill to add to your baseball résumé. A scoreboard has three lines. The top line is for the innings, the second for the runs of the visiting team per inning and its total runs for the game, and the third is the same as the second but for the home team. Something else that's important to know is that there is never a tie game in baseball. There are a standard of 9 innings in a game, but if there's a tie, they will continue playing overtime innings until the tie is broken. Over-time innings must allow both teams to be at bat so it's easy for the tie to continue for several innings. I've been to games where they went to 13 innings!
While there's always more to learn, these basics will at least allow you to know if the team you're rooting for is winning or not. Is there something that you want to know or that you want to share that could make watching the series more fun for the clueless? Share it in the comments! Happy 109th World Series!
Dana Holmes is a lifestyle, gift and etiquette expert who acts as Editor in Chief of Gifts.com and the Gift Rap Blog. She has been working in trend forecasting and gift recommendations for the past decade. Dana loves making occasions special with her unique gift ideas, tips and touches. She has been interviewed by the New York Times, Associated Press, Fox & Friends, TODAY in NY and many more.