Sports 101


Pitching. It's the most valuable commodity in baseball. Just glance at the American and National League standings to see who's in first, last, or somewhere in between. Teams with the best pitching (Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees) are at the top, while teams that lack solid pitching (Arizona Diamondbacks, Florida Marlins) are at the bottom. Teams without a solid pitching rotation have almost no chance of making it into postseason play. Below, some key pitching terms and phrases.

Q: When an umpire calls a balk, what does this mean?

A: A balk is called by the umpire when the pitcher does not make the pitch after initiating the normal delivery motion, or makes a throw to a base in order to throw out a runner but neglects to step directly toward the base. When a balk is called, runners get to advance one base.

Q: What is the bullpen and where is it?

A: It's the area where pitchers warm up before entering a game. In most stadiums, it is located behind the outfield fence. In other parks (such as Wrigley Field in Chicago) bullpens are located in the foul territory along the left and right field lines.

Q: What is a setup man?

A: A relief pitcher who usually arrives in the seventh or eighth inning, preferably when his team is winning. He sets up the ninth inning for the closing pitcher.

Q: When an announcer says the pitcher "struck out the side," what does he mean?

A: It's when a pitcher strikes out every batter he faces in an inning. If the pitcher allows a hitter to reach base during the inning, the phrase does not apply.

Q: What is the difference between a wild pitch and a passed ball?

A: A wild pitch is a ball that is thrown off target and gets past the catcher. If the official scorer decides the catcher should have caught the pitch, he can rule it a passed ball. Wild pitches and passed balls are charged only when they advance a runner or allow a batter to reach first base on a third strike.

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