The offense attempts to score more runs than its opponents by hitting a ball thrown by the pitcher with a bat and moving counter-clockwise around a series of four bases: first, second, third and home plate. A run is scored when the runner advances around the bases and returns to home plate.
The teams switch between batting and fielding whenever the fielding team records three outs. One turn at bat for both teams, beginning with the visiting team, constitutes an inning, and nine innings a game. The team with the most runs at the end of the game wins.
Evolving from older bat-and-ball games, an early form of baseball was being played in England by the mid-18th century. This game was brought by immigrants to North America, where the modern version developed. By the late 19th century, baseball was widely recognized as the national sport of the United States.
In the United States and Canada, professional Major League Baseball (MLB) teams are divided into the National League (NL) and American League (AL), each with three divisions: East, West, and Central. The major league champion is determined by playoffs that culminate in the World Series. The top level of play is similarly split in Japan between the Central League and Pacific Leagues and in Cuba between the West League and East League.