Is Baseball Complicated? (All You Need To Know)

The Baseball rule book is full of rules you have never heard of and probably never will. Most have been formulated after an incident that the regulators are trying to prevent ever happening again, and it is these obscure rules which fans of other sporting disciplines point to when announcing that baseball is a complicated game.

The basic rules and methods of playing baseball are simple and easy to understand. Once you begin to study the finer details of the games, and the more complex and less known rules, there is an added level of complexity that starts to become more complicated.

If you are new to baseball and you start to hear terms that appear very confusing, don’t worry. Baseball is essentially a very simple game; when you eventually hear the meaning and contextualize it, you will find it easy to understand.

Baseball Can Be Complicated

While the overview of baseball is very simple and easy to understand, the finer rules can take a long time for the new fan to learn.

Examples of the more complex and lesser known rules include:

  • When base runners must attempt to advance when they must “tag up” to advance, why is one play a “force out” but another requires a “tag out” (which isn’t the same thing at all as “tagging up”),
  • Why does a foul ball with two strikes on a batter not put him out, and why does the same foul ball with two strikes put him out if he’s bunting?
  • There are very precise rules to cover a dropped third strike.
  • The fine distinction between “obstruction” and “interference.”
  •  “infield fly” rule.
  • When is a save, a save?
  • “When the ball is in play at the start of, or during a game, all fielders other than the catcher shall be on the fair territory.”
  • Runners advance one base if a pitched ball “lodges in the umpire’s or catcher’s mask or paraphernalia.”
  • “Players of opposite teams may not fraternize at any time while in uniform.”
  • “The pitcher must pitch the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives it. Every time the pitcher violates this rule, the umpire shall call it “Ball.”
  • An INFIELD FLY ball is a fair ball that an infielder can catch without an  extraordinary effort when either the first and second, or first, second and third bases are occupied; before two are out.”

While these rules may appear complex compared with other professional sports, they are not unusually long, involved, or complex.

How Is Baseball Played?

Baseball is played between two opposing teams of nine players each.

The pitcher stands on a “pitcher’s mound,” positioned in the infield’s center. The infield consists of four positions situated on the four corners of a square box which consist of.

  • The home plate
  • First Base
  • Second Base
  • Third Base

The game is split into nine innings, during which all but one of the batting team members will sit in a “dug out” behind the home plate position.

The opposing team has a pitcher who stands on the pitcher’s mound and will attempt to hurl (Pitch) the ball as accurately as possible to prevent the batter from striking it.

The pitcher will use his specialist skill to make the ball as difficult to strike as possible, some of which include.

  • Changing the way he stands.
  • Varying how he holds the ball.
  • Adding a spin to the ball.
  • Adjusting the pitching action

The results are ball pitches thrown at different speeds, varying pitch locations, and with differing ball movements, all of which the pitcher hopes will confuse the batter.

The batter stands on the home plate, holding a long, smooth rounded stick called a baseball bat, and prepares to strike the ball. The batter is allowed three attempts (called strikes) to hit the ball.

The intent of the batting team is for the batter to hit skillful batting strikes and make runs. A run consists of running between the home plate to the first base, then onto the second base, the third base, and back to the home plate.

Two lines (called foul lines) stretch out at ninety degrees from the home base through the second and third bases. 

He will run to first base if the batter hits a ball and remains within the foul lines. To earn a point, he must complete a run to first base, second base, third base, and back to home base.

If he played the ball well, it might be out of the other team’s catching positions, and he will cross all four positions either as one complete round – called a home run, or incrementally moving from one base to take their turn next as the subsequent batters and hit the ball.

If the batter manages to run across all three bases and can return to the home base, he goes into the dugout, to the back of the batting lineup, waiting his turn to try again.

He is out if the batter cannot hit the ball in the three strike attempts.

If the catcher does not catch the ball, the batter can run to first base (as long as it is open). In the more likely example of the catcher holding the ball, he will tag the batter, indicating that he is out, and the more batch will return to the dugout.

As each batter takes his turn to bat, there may be a situation where three preceding batters are occupying each base, waiting for the new batter to hit the ball and run through to the first base. At this point, each player on the individual bases will try to advance, making space at first base for the new batter.

If they do not manage to move to the next base, a term called “bases loaded” occurs. If the players cannot advance and the opposing team can return the ball in time, the batter will have no place to run and will be “run out.”

If the other team members occupying a base start to run to the next position, and the opposing team can get the ball to the destination base before the runner arrives, the runner will be out.

The team that has the most runs after nine overs (turns) is the winner.

As in any sport, the baseball community has its lexicon – which stretches to more than 300 terms.


The basic premise of baseball is that two teams of nine people take turns facing each other on a baseball field. The pitcher of the one team pitches balls at a batter from the other team, who intends to hut the ball and run across four positions called bases. If he manages to run across all four bases, that is one point for the team.

Baseball is not unduly complicated, but just as in any large sporting discipline, some obscure rules can cause uninitiated confusion.


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