Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of nine players each who take turns batting and fielding. The batting team attempts to score runs by hitting a ball (that is thrown by the opposing team's pitcher) with a bat swung by the batter, and then running counter-clockwise around a series of four bases: first, second, third, and home plate. A run is scored when a player advances around the bases and touches home plate.
Players on the batting team take turns hitting against the pitcher of the fielding team, which tries to prevent runs by getting hitters out in any of several ways. A player on the batting team who reaches a base safely can later attempt to advance to subsequent bases during teammates' turns batting, such as on a hit or by other means. The teams switch between batting and fielding whenever the fielding team records three outs. One turn batting for both teams, beginning with the visiting team, constitutes an inning. A game is composed of nine innings, and the team with the greater number of runs at the end of the game wins. If scores are tied at the end of nine innings, extra innings are usually played. Baseball has no game clock, although most games end in the ninth inning.
By the late 19th century, baseball was widely recognized as the national sport of the United States.
Major League Baseball (MLB) is the oldest of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. The other professional major sports leagues are in Football, Basketball and Ice Hockey. A total of 30 teams play in the MLB, and they are divided between the National League (NL) and the American League (AL), with 15 teams in each league.
Professional baseball has a hierarchy of leagues below the top 30 teams that provide opportunities for player development and a way to prepare for an MLB team. Triple-A (or Class AAA) is the highest level of play, and teams are typically located in large metropolitan areas that do not have a MLB team, such as Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, New York. The next level is Double-A (Class AA), followed by Single-A baseball (Class A). Players move up from A to AA to AAA to the Major League. All Minor League teams are affiliated with an MLB franchise. There are ten minor league teams in New York State, providing fans and travelers with an array of opportunities for experiencing the sport.