Baseball is one sporting event that is not governed by a clock. Baseball games have nine innings with a top and bottom half.
While there are a finite number of innings, baseball games can last a long time because the inning ends when both teams have had a turn at bat and have each gotten three outs no matter how long it takes.
There are many interesting baseball facts about innings starting with the fact that nine-innings was not always the rule. They used to play until the first team scored 21 times. As more teams formed, there was a need to add a certain number of innings.
Do you find baseball games exciting but kind of confusing with rules that may take a little bit to learn? Keep reading to learn three things you need to know about baseball innings.
Table of Contents
1. Top and Bottom of the Inning
Innings have a top and bottom half. The visiting team always bats first in the top of the inning. While one team is at bat, the other team is fielding. When the team at bat gets three outs, the teams switch positions and go into the other half of the inning. A team can only score when they’re at bat.
For example, Team A is at bat at the top of the first inning. One player hits a pop fly for one out, another hits a grounder and gets out at first base, and another strikes out. That’s the end of the top half of the inning so the teams switch positions. Team B is now at bat and Team A is on the field.
2. Middle of the Inning
The middle of the inning is the time between the top and bottom of the inning. Following baseball rules, the teams have a little bit of time to grab their gear and switch places.
For locally televised games, there’s a two-minute and 25-second break. For a nationally televised game, it’s two minutes and 45 seconds.
3. Ninth Inning
The ninth inning does not always have a bottom half. If the home team is ahead at the end of the top of the ninth inning, there’s no reason for them to bat for their last turn.
Sometimes the bottom of the ninth inning will end if the home team goes ahead even if they haven’t had their three outs.
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The Ins and Outs of Baseball Innings
While professional baseball games have nine innings, youth baseball games have six or seven depending on the league. In reality, baseball games can go on and on in extra innings if there’s a tie at the end of regulation. The longest Major League Baseball game ever played went 26 innings!
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