Understanding baseball: A crash course guide to America’s favorite pastime

The Wildcats play baseball against Baylor in Tointon Family Stadium on April 17, 2014. Baseball is a sport that many seem to either love or hate, but learning the rules can go a long way. (Archive photo by Parker Robb | Collegian Media Group)

They say baseball is an all-American sport, but a lot of Americans don’t care for it, if they even know how to play it at all. If you’re someone who doesn’t know the “innings and outs” of baseball yet, this guide is for you.

For starters, the absolute basics. The core of baseball is a competition between two teams made up of nine players each. The objective is to take turns playing offense and defense for up to nine innings, with the team that scores the most runs declared the winner.

The offense scores by hitting a ball thrown by the opposing team with a bat and getting players to run past four plates in a square formation while the ball is in the air. Meanwhile, the defense simply tries to stop the offense by catching baseballs and tagging players on the run.

Each player has a chance to bat, but in some leagues, there is a designated hitter that bats in place of a team’s designated pitcher.

Baseball is played in many different styles and variants: standard baseball, softball and even wiffle ball all have their fans. The differences usually come from the size of the ball and how it is pitched to the batter.

There is a lot of equipment involved with the sport, from bats, balls and gloves to cleats and baseball caps, which makes getting a game together rather difficult.

Still, if you can get a game together, you’ll likely be playing many roles on a team. Here is what each position should be focused on in a match.

The primary goal of a batter is to hit the ball as far as they can without it being caught or thrown to a base. The most effective hits are home runs, letting a batter travel through all the bases to score a run. If you can’t manage that, the batter can also try to run to first, second or third base so their next teammate can hit them home.

On defense, the pitcher wants to collect three outs in each inning and keep batters off the bases. To get an out, pitchers can either strike a batter out, preventing them from hitting the ball three times, or get a batter to hit a less-than-ideal ball and hope a teammate can catch it or tag the runner at a base.

The Recreation Complex at Kansas State University offers intramural softball leagues for players who want to get a taste of what it’s like to play baseball, and the K-State baseball team is in the middle of its season if you want to catch a game to watch.

Many people have memories of playing catch with their family, or summer nights playing baseball. If you are looking for an activity on a warm summer’s day, but don’t feel like exerting a ton of energy, head to the ballpark and catch some sun — and maybe a foul ball.