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MLB: Hanging It Up- Pride Intact       Share

02 June 2010

A compelling story out of the American League is that Seattle Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Junior decided to retire at the age of 40.  Griffey is fifth on baseball’s all time home run list with 630, but this year he has no home runs and is hitting well below the Mendoza line at .184.  Griffey noted in a short statement that he felt that he was not getting enough playing time to stay sharp, and he did not want to be a distraction to his teammates.  In total, Griffey played 22 major league seasons and achieved every notable award with the exception of a trip to the World Series.  He was noted as probably the best player of the 1990s, but injuries took their toll in the last decade.  Just think what he could have done if he had taken steroids like most of his peers.  I guess the shrunken testicles and being labeled a cheater weren’t worth it for him—I am glad that there are some with his sense of pride that still play the game.

One-liners: “Griffey was really good for baseball—it’s almost like he’s already been gone even though he just retired.”  (Griffey has been played sparingly over the past couple of years and played the past two seasons for the last place Mariners who do not get much media coverage).

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The Basics

Baseball Regular Season:
Major League Baseball (MLB) is divided into two leagues, the American League (AL) and the National League (NL).  Each league is further divided into three divisions, west, central, and east.  The regular season lasts from early April through early October.  While NL teams mostly play other NL teams and vice versa with the AL, there are occasional times in the regular season that NL teams will play AL teams.  During the regular season, each team plays 162 games.   These games determine who will go to the playoffs—each division winner and one “wild card” team from each league.   
Baseball is a statistics crazy game—true fans will quote batting averages, fielding percentages, slugging percentages, and just about any stat that you could think of for their favorite teams or players.  We’ll explain the ones that you need to know throughout the season. 


Win (for a pitcher):  A pitcher must complete five innings of pitching and his team must be leading when he exits for him to get a win.  A pitcher with 15 wins in a season is doing well; 20 wins is the recognized plateau of excellence.

ERA:  Earned Run Average.  A statistic which measures how many runs a pitcher averages surrendering to opposing teams based on pitching nine innings.  For instance, a pitcher with an ERA of 2.00 would on average give up 2 runs over the course of 9 innings.  ERA’s are always measured to the hundredths.  An ERA of under 3.00 is considered good.  An ERA under 2.00 is excellent and only a handful of pitchers are able to sustain an ERA under 2.00 for an entire season.

Pinch Hit:  when a player that did not start the game comes in to bat for a player that did start the game. 

Batting Average:   How often a player gets a hit.  Batting average is calculated by dividing the number of hits by total chances to hit.   If a player walks or is hit by a pitch, such actions are not counted as a chance to hit in calculating the batting average.  A .300 batting average (getting a hit 30% of the time) is considered to be above average for a MLB player.

Mendoza Line:  A euphemism for a .200 batting average.  The term came from a reference to Mario Mendoza, a light hitting infielder in the 1970s that usually batted around .200.  A player that is hitting around the Mendoza Line is lucky to still have a job in the Major Leagues.