Baseball is one of those games that Americans identify themselves with. I had always heard about it. But did not have any idea of what the game is all about and how much it matters for Americans. Courtesy of my local colleagues, we went for a baseball game couple of weeks back. The game was between Houston’s Astros and Pittsburg Pirates. While our colleagues were explaining the rules of the game, I could draw a lot of parallels with Cricket. A game that we breathe I guess. So I am going to describe it with reference to cricket.
What is Baseball?
To begin with, there is a bat and a ball. The bat does not look like the cricket bat at all, it is circular after the handle unlike the flat one in cricket. The ball looks very familiar. The scores are called runs like cricket. But the way they are scored is different. And three times more difficult than cricket. And that is why the scorecard of a baseball game looks more like football scores than our cricket. Just like we have two wickets between which the two batsmen run, there are four bases arranged in a diamond shape. One of which is called home base. The batting person is at the home base (not sure if it is the same as a home plate).
And after he hits the ball, he has to run and touch all the three other bases and come back to the home base to score a run. If the ball is touched before he reaches the home base, no runs are scored. Bowler is called the pitcher. The batsman can get out in multiple ways just like cricket. There is a wicketkeeper kind of position and role, but am not sure what it is called. The ground looks like a quarter pie cut out of a cricket ground, with a home base at the corner of the pie. There are 9 or 10 players instead of our 11. The turn for each team to bat is called ‘Innings’. And there are 9 innings played by each side. Three batsmen out on each side comprise an innings.
Just like any other thing in America, this sport is a big opportunity for marketers. There are sponsored games for the audience in between. Watching a game on the ground is more than just the game, the whole environment is charged up. There is a whole lot of effort to keep the audience engaged. Songs are displayed on the screens and the whole audience gets up and sings. There are camera games, which are supposed to be played by the people on whom the camera focuses. And of course, there are incentives for participating in some. The home team has a big advantage in terms of audience support.
Not that I became a fan of the game, but it was an amazing experience to watch the game and the environment that it dictates. The simple madness of people, the fan following of leading players, and the whole packaging of the game for the audience…