Major League Baseball (MLB)
Major League Baseball (MLB) is the highest level of play in professional baseball in the world. More specifically, Major League Baseball refers to the entity that operates North American professional baseball's two major leagues, the National League and the American League, by means of a joint organizational structure which has existed between them since 1903. On an organizational level, MLB effectively operates as a single "league", and as such it constitutes one of the major professional sports leagues of North America.
Major League Baseball is governed by the Major League Baseball Constitution, an agreement that has undergone several incarnations since 1876 then called the NL Constitution, with the most recent revisions being made in 2005. Major League Baseball, under the direction of its Commissioner, Bud Selig, hires and maintains the sport's umpiring crews, and negotiates marketing, labor, and television contracts. As is the case for most North American sports leagues, the 'closed shop' aspect of MLB effectively prevents the yearly promotion and demotion of teams into the Major League by virtue of their performance.
MLB also maintains a unique, controlling relationship over the sport, including most aspects of minor league baseball. This is due in large part to a 1922U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Federal Baseball Club v. National League which declared baseball is not considered interstate commerce (and therefore not subject to federal antitrust law), despite baseball's own references to itself as an "industry" rather than a "sport."
The production/multimedia wing of MLB is New York-based MLB Advanced Media, which oversees MLB.com and all 30 of the individual teams' websites. Its charter states that MLB Advanced Media holds editorial independence from the League itself, but it is indeed under the same ownership group and revenue-sharing plan. MLB Productions is a similarly-structured wing of the league, focusing on video and traditional broadcast media.
Major League race and origin
At the start of the 2006 season, there were 744 players on opening rosters, of which were:
582 (78%) US-born (including Puerto Rico), 476 (64% of MLB) caucasian, 75 (10% of MLB) black, 31 (4% of MLB) Latino
162 (22%) foreign-born, 119 (24% of MLB) Latin American (76 from the Dominican Republic, 43 from Venezuela), 14 or (2% of MLB) Asian
Early July marks the midway point of the season, during which a three day break is taken when the Major League Baseball All-Star Game is staged. The All-Star game pits players from the NL, headed up by the manager of the previous NL World Series team, against players from the AL, similarly managed, in an exhibition game. The 2002 contest ended in an 11-inning tie because both teams were out of pitchers, a result which proved highly unpopular with the fans. As a result, for a two-year trial in 2003 and 2004, the league which won the game received the benefit of home-field advantage (four of the seven games of that year's World Series taking place at their home park). The 2005 contest, played in Detroit, followed this format, and it is expected that it will remain that way until the MLB says otherwise, since it has become popular with fans but has upset purists over the previous format of the two leagues alternating home-field advantage every other year. Through the 2005 season, the AL has won all three contests with this rule. The Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox took full advantage of the rule, with both teams winning the World Series in a 4-0 sweep in 2004 and 2005, respectively.
Since the 1970s, the eight position players for each team who take the field initially have been voted into the game by fans. The remaining position players and all of the pitchers on each league's roster were, for a large number of years, solely at the discretion of that team's manager. In 2004, however, MLB instituted a system where some reserves and pitchers were selected by a vote of MLB players, and some were selected by the manager after consulting with the Commissioner's Office. By MLB regulation, every team in the majors must have at least one designated all-star player, regardless of voting. This rule exists so that fans of every team have a player to watch for in the All Star Game.
When the regular season ends after the first Sunday in October, eight teams enter the post-season playoffs. The first six teams are each league's three division champions. The remaining two "wild-card" spots are filled by each league's team that has the best regular season record and is not a division champion. Three rounds of series of games are played to determine the champion:
The matchup for the first round of the playoffs is usually 1 seed vs. 4 seed, and 2 seed vs. 3 seed, unless this would result in a matchup of two teams from the same division, in which case the matchup is 1 seed vs. 3 seed and 2 seed vs. 4 seed. In the first and second round of the playoffs, the better seeded team has home-field advantage.
The team belonging to the league that won the mid-season All-Star game receives home-field advantage in the World Series. The 2006 All Star game will be played in Pittsburgh at PNC Park.
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