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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.

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Major League Baseball (MLB) is the highest level of play in North American professional baseball. Specifically, Major League Baseball refers to the organization that operates the National League and the American League, by means of a joint organizational structure that has developed gradually between them since 1903 (the National League having been in existence since 1876). In 2000, the two leagues were officially disbanded as separate legal entities with all their rights and functions consolidated in the commissioner's office. MLB effectively operates as a single league and as such it constitutes one of the major professional sports leagues of the United States. It is currently composed of 30 teams—29 in the United States and 1 in Canada (the Toronto Blue Jays). In conjunction with the International Baseball Federation, the MLB also manages the World Baseball Classic.

Each season consists of 162 games (with an additional game, or games, if a tie breaker is needed to determine postseason participation), which generally begins on the first Sunday in April and ends on the first Sunday in October, with the postseason played in October and sometimes into early November. The same rules and regulations are played between the two leagues with one exception: the American League operates under the Designated Hitter Rule, while the National League does not. Utilization of the DH Rule in interleague play, the All-Star and World Series games is determined by the home team's league rules. MLB is controlled by the Major League Baseball Constitution that has undergone several incarnations since 1876 with the most recent revisions being made in 2005. Under the direction of Commissioner of Baseball (currently Bud Selig), Major League Baseball hires and maintains the sport's umpiring crews, and negotiates marketing, labor, and television contracts. As is the case for most of the sports leagues in the United States and Canada, the "closed shop" aspect of MLB effectively prevents the yearly promotion and relegation of teams into and out of Major League Baseball by virtue of their performance. Major League Baseball maintains a unique, controlling relationship over the sport, including most aspects of minor league baseball. This is due in large part to a 1922 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Federal Baseball Club v. National League, which held that baseball is not interstate commerce and therefore not subject to federal antitrust law. This ruling has been weakened only slightly in subsequent years.

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Walter Francis O'Malley (October 9, 1903 – August 9, 1979) was an American sports executive who owned the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers team in Major League Baseball from 1950 to 1979 and who was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He served as Brooklyn Dodger chief legal counsel when Jackie Robinson broke the racial color barrier in 1947. In 1958, as owner of the Dodgers, he brought major league baseball to the West Coast, moving the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and coordinating the move of the New York Giants to San Francisco at a time when there were no teams west of Missouri. For this, he was long vilified by Brooklyn Dodger fans.

O'Malley was mentioned several times in Danny Kaye's 1962 song tribute, "The D-O-D-G-E-R-S Song (Oh, Really? No, O'Malley!)", which spins a tale of a fantasy game between the Dodgers and the Giants. At one point, the umpire's call goes against the home team:

Down in the dugout, Alston glowers
Up in the booth, Vin Scully frowns;
Out in the stands, O'Malley grins...
Attendance 50,000!
So ....what does O'Malley do? CHARGE!!

On March 17, 1970, Walter turned over the presidency of the team to his son Peter, remaining as Chairman until his death in 1979. Peter O'Malley held the position until 1998 when the team was sold to Rupert Murdoch. The team remained successful on the field under Peter and won the World Series in both 1981 and 1988. They remained successful at the box office as well: by the end of the 1980s, they had not only became the first franchise to draw three million fans, but also they had done it more times than all other franchises combined.

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People say I don't have great tools. They say that I can't throw like Ellis Valentine or run like Tim Raines or hit with power like Mike Schmidt. Who can? I make up for it in other ways, by putting out a little bit more. That's my theory, to go through life hustling. In the big leagues, hustle usually means being in the right place at the right time. It means backing up a base. It means backing up your teammate. It means taking that headfirst slide. It means doing everything you can do to win a baseball game.
Pete Rose, Cincinnati Reds second baseman, on his explanation for his professional] success


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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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