Thursday, January 19, 2012

What to Know About Baseball Dugout?

The dugout is a part of baseball that goes largely unnoticed. Most popular American sports feature a bench on the sidelines for players and coaches who are not out on the playing surface. A major league dugout is unique in that it is below ground level and has several features that the others sports do not have. Dugouts actually can play a role in the outcome of the game.
Dugouts started as a way to avoid obstructing the fans' view during a game. They were originally on the field level and served as a typical team bench. As the game's popularity grew, the need for more spectator seating became apparent. Lowering the dugout below field level allowed stadium builders to bring the seating closer to the game and not having anything in the line of the fans' view.
Dugout Selection
Not all stadiums feature the home team's dugout on the same side of the field. Home teams are allowed to choose which dugout they'd prefer. The decision often comes down to where the sun shines, which dugout or adjacent clubhouse is nicer, or which side of the field a manager prefers to be on. Most teams prefer to be on the first base side because that is where the majority of close plays occur, allowing the manager to have a closer point of view. The San Francisco Giants are one of 11 major league teams that currently choose the third base side for its home dugout.
Modern Features
Most of today's dugouts at all competition levels have some form of a fence in front of it to protect the teams from hard-hit foul balls. Though most major league stadiums feature this safety feature, the danger remains. According to "USA Today," in March of 2011, an Atlanta Braves coach was hit in the face while standing on the top step of the dugout. Despite recent incidents, major league teams in Oakland, Toronto and Florida still play in stadiums with traditional open dugouts.
Impact On the Game
A dugout can factor into game play. A foul ball is still in play over a dugout. A player has the ability to reach in to make a play, as long as his feet are in play before making the catch. In other sports, the bench is clearly on the other side of an out-of-bounds line. At times, a home team selects the dugout with the most shade to create a home field advantage by ensuring that players stay cooler in the summer.

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