A Vulcan ship docks at Deep Space Nine, and Sisko takes a meeting with its captain. In the meeting, Captain Solok makes several racist comments about Humans, unnecessarily mentions some of Sisko's recent failures, and seems to delight (as much as a Vulcan can) in Sisko's uncomfortable reaction. Sisko reveals to Kasidy that Solok's antagonism toward humans in general and Sisko in particular goes back all the way to when Solok used to routinely humiliate Sisko during their days at Starfleet Academy. Now that the Vulcans are experimenting with baseball in the holosuite, Sisko considers it a matter of pride to put Solok in his place by beating him in a game of baseball, despite the Vulcans' intellectual and physical superiority.
Sisko recruits Odo to serve as umpire and the rest of the DS9 crew as his make-shift team, the Niners - despite the fact that none of them have any experience with baseball; they don't even know the most basic rules and terms.
Sisko swears Kasidy to secrecy involving his motivation to defeat Solok, but she tells the crew anyway. They become determined to beat the Vulcans, but suffer from serious blows to morale when they don't take to the game, and again when Sisko cuts the incompetent Rom from the team.
Despite such setbacks, the Niners start the game with enthusiasm, but that enthusiasm soon wanes as the Vulcans proceed to trounce the DS9 crew. When Odo (who seems to be immensely enjoying the role of umpire) declares Worf to be struck out, Sisko confronts him and is thrown out of the game.
Eventually, the Niners (who are still losing miserably) make a lucky play, which inspires Sisko (now on the sidelines) to send in Rom. As incompetent as ever, Rom fails to understand the signal to bunt, but accidentally bunts anyway - the first time he has managed to hit the ball. The Niners thrill at this very small victory, and when Solok objects to their premature victory, Odo has him thrown out of the game on a technicality.
Back at the station, the crew celebrates what they see as a victory despite the fact that they lost the game. Solok points out that their celebration is inappropriate in light of their loss, but the crew doesn't care, because the real victory they're celebrating is that even though they were losing, they still managed to enjoy the game more than the Vulcans did. The crew points out to Solok that his actions and motivations reek of the very emotions he disdains in Humans. Though he refuses to admit it, for once Solok is the one who has been humiliated instead of Sisko, and he leaves the DS9 crew to continue to celebrate their victorious loss.