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Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting and fielding. The game proceeds when a player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball which a player on the batting team tries to hit with a bat. The objectives of the offensive team (batting team) are to hit the ball into the field of play, and to run the bases—having its runners advance counter-clockwise around four bases to score what are called "runs". The objective of the defensive team (fielding team) is to prevent batters from becoming runners, and to prevent runners' advance around the bases. A run is scored when a runner legally advances around the bases in order and touches home plate (the place where the player started as a batter). The team that scores the most runs by the end of the game is the winner.

The first objective of the batting team is to have a player reach first base safely. A player on the batting team who reaches first base without being called "out" can attempt to advance to subsequent bases as a runner, either immediately or during teammates' turns batting. The fielding team tries to prevent runs by getting batters or runners "out", which forces them out of the field of play. Both the pitcher and fielders have methods of getting the batting team's players out. The opposing teams switch back and forth between batting and fielding; the batting team's turn to bat is over once the fielding team records three outs. One turn batting for each team constitutes an inning. A game is usually composed of nine innings, and the team with the greater number of runs at the end of the game wins. If scores are tied at the end of nine innings, extra innings are usually played. Baseball has no game clock, although most games end in the ninth inning.

Baseball evolved from older bat-and-ball games already being played in England by the mid-18th century. This game was brought by immigrants to North America, where the modern version developed. By the late 19th century, baseball was widely recognized as the national sport of the United States. Baseball is popular in North America and parts of Central and South America, the Caribbean, and East Asia, particularly in Japan and South Korea.

In the United States and Canada, professional Major League Baseball (MLB) teams are divided into the National League (NL) and American League (AL), each with three divisions: East, West, and Central. The MLB champion is determined by playoffs that culminate in the World Series. The top level of play is similarly split in Japan between the Central and Pacific Leagues and in Cuba between the West League and East League. The World Baseball Classic, organized by the World Baseball Softball Confederation, is the major international competition of the sport and attracts the top national teams from around the world.

Selected article

Curse of the Colonel (カーネルサンダースの呪い, Kāneru Sandāsu no noroi) refers to an urban legend regarding a reputed curse placed on the Japanese Kansai-based Hanshin Tigers baseball team by deceased KFC founder and mascot Colonel Harland Sanders. The curse was said to be placed on the team because of the Colonel's anger over treatment of one of his store-front statues. The Hanshin Tigers are located in Kansai, the second largest metropolitan area in Japan. They are considered the eternal underdogs of Nippon Professional Baseball, in opposition to the Yomiuri Giants of Tokyo, who are considered the kings of Japanese baseball. The devoted fans flock to the stadium no matter how badly the Tigers play in the league. As is common with sports-related curses, the Curse of the Colonel is used to explain the Japan Championship Series drought that the Hanshin Tigers have had to endure since their first and only victory in the 1985 Japan Championship. The curse is said to have happened when Hanshin fans, excited over winning the 1985 championship series, tossed the statue of Colonel Sanders into the Dōtonbori River. Since then, fans have said they would never win another Japan Series until the statue was recovered. Comparisons are often made between the Hanshin Tigers and the Boston Red Sox, who were also said to be under a curse, the Curse of the Bambino, until they won the World Series in 2004. The "Curse of the Colonel" has also been used as a boogeyman threat to those who would divulge the secret recipe of eleven herbs and spices that makes the unique taste of KFC chicken.

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Selected biography

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Osborne Earl "Ozzie" Smith (born December 26, 1954) is a retired American professional baseball player who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002. Nicknamed "The Wizard," Smith played shortstop for the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals in Major League Baseball, winning the National League Gold Glove Award for defensive play at shortstop for 13 consecutive seasons. A 15-time All-Star, Smith accumulated 2,460 hits and 580 stolen bases during his career, and won the National League Silver Slugger Award as the best hitter at shortstop in 1987. Smith was born in Mobile, Alabama, but his family moved to the Watts section of Los Angeles when he was six years old. Developing quick reflexes via childhood athletic activities, Smith played baseball in high school and college. Drafted as an amateur player by the San Diego Padres, Smith made his Major League Baseball debut in 1978. Smith quickly established himself as an outstanding defensive player, who later became known for performing backflips on special occasions while running out to the shortstop position. Smith won his first Gold Glove award in 1980 and made his first All Star Game appearance in 1981. When conflict with Padres' ownership developed, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for shortstop Garry Templeton in 1982. Upon joining the Cardinals, Smith helped the team win the 1982 World Series. Three years later his game-winning home run during Game 5 of the 1985 National League Championship Series prompted broadcaster Jack Buck's "Go crazy, folks!" play-by-play call. Despite a rotator cuff injury during the 1985 season, Smith posted career highs in multiple offensive categories in 1987. Smith continued to earn Gold Gloves and All Star appearances on an annual basis until 1993, and later missed nearly three months of the 1995 season after undergoing shoulder surgery. After tension between Smith and his new manager Tony La Russa developed in 1996, Smith decided to retire at season's end, and subsequently had his uniform number (# 1) retired by the Cardinals. Smith served as host of the television show This Week in Baseball from 1997 to 1999, and continues to be an entrepreneur in a variety of business ventures.

Quotes

Pudge is so old, they didn't have history class when he went to school.
Steve Lyons, referring to his 42-year-old teammate Carlton "Pudge" Fisk in 1990.


Selected list

Trevor Hoffman, two time winner
The Rolaids Relief Man Award is an annual Major League Baseball (MLB) award given since the 1976 MLB season to the top relief pitchers of the regular season, one in the American League (AL) and one in the National League (NL). Relief pitchers are the pitchers who enter the game after the starting pitcher is removed. The award is sponsored by Rolaids, whose slogan is "R-O-L-A-I-D-S spells relief." Because the first closers were nicknamed "firemen," a reference to "putting out the fire" of another team's rally, the trophy is a gold-plated firefighter's helmet. Unlike other awards, such as the Cy Young Award or the MLB Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award, the Relief Man of the Year is based on statistical performance, rather than votes. Each save is worth three points; each win is worth two points; and each loss is worth negative two points. Beginning with the 1987 MLB season, negative two points have been given for blown saves. In the 2000 MLB season, the term "tough save", which is worth an additional point, was introduced by Rolaids. A "tough save" happens when a relief pitcher enters the game already having a tying run on base, and gets the save. The player with the highest point total wins the award. The inaugural award winners were Bill Campbell (AL) and Rawly Eastwick (NL); Campbell also won in the following season. Dan Quisenberry has won the award five times, while Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter and Mariano Rivera have won the award four times. Lee Smith has won the award on three occasions; Campbell, Dennis Eckersley, Dave Righetti, John Franco, Éric Gagné, Randy Myers, Trevor Hoffman, and Francisco Rodriguez have won the award twice. Fingers (AL 1981) and Eckersley (AL 1992) have won the Relief Man of the Year, the Cy Young Award, and the MLB MVP Award in the same season. Sutter (NL 1979), Steve Bedrosian (NL 1987), Mark Davis (NL 1989), and Éric Gagné (NL 2003) have won the Relief Man of the Year and the Cy Young Award in the same season. Todd Worrell won both the Relief Man of the Year and the MLB Rookie of the Year Award in the 1986 MLB season. Goose Gossage, Fingers, Eckersley, and Sutter have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The most recent award winners are Rodriguez (AL) and Brad Lidge (NL).

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