Play Ball!

It's spring, and spring means baseball.They call it "the national pastime," and for millions of people it represents the end of winter and the beginning of outdoor fun. Spring training is over, the games that count have started, and there are a bunch of special developments for the 2014 season.

Baseball in Australia

The first new development involved our own Los Angeles Dodgers, who opened the season on March 22 and 23 in Sydney, Australia against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 160-year-old Sydney Cricket Ground was transformed into a big league baseball field, with an infield, pitcher's mound, dugouts, and everything else you'd expect. It was the first time baseball was played on the Cricket Ground since 1914, when the Giants and the White Sox came to town.

If you're like most people, you'll find lots of spare coins or bills lying around in unexpected places. Good places to look include pockets, drawers, or chair cushions.

After the Dodgers returned to the U.S., they picked up play on March 30, in San Diego against the Padres.

Our other local team, the Angels (officially the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) opened at home on March 31 vs. the Seattle Mariners.

A Changing Game

Another new baseball development: Reviewing umpires' calls will happen a lot more this year. Up until now, video review (popularly known as instant replay) was only used to check if home runs really went out of the park, and only the umpires could ask for them.

Now, almost all plays can be challenged, including things like whether runners are safe or out and whether a runner touches a base or not. Each team manager starts the game with one challenge. If it's upheld, he gets one more. Once your challenges are used up, you're stuck until the seventh inning, and then only the umpires can ask for a review, which will happen at the Replay Command Center in New York.