Trying to figure out why in this case, to play baseball, it's jugar al beisbal but when Laura likes to play sports it's jugar deportes.
You use jugar a + name of the sport. For example, Él juega al béisbol. That explains the "a." And here is a reference.
In Le gusta al béisbol, the el (from al) is there, because the subject, baseball, is a general concept. That is, he likes baseball in general. A literal translation is Baseball (in general) is pleasing to him. In this exercise, baseball is also the subject. A literal translation is Baseball playing is pleasing to Felipe. Playing is just a modifier of baseball (the subject).
In the case of He plays sports, you are not naming a specific sport so the "a" is not used. The subject is él so a definite article is not used. Él juega deportes = He plays sports.
The case of Felipe likes to play sports is similar. You are not naming a sport and the subject is not a generalization so neither the "a" nor the definite article are used. A Felipe le gusta jugar deportes.
The grammar of this can get a little complicated. And the Spanish grammar is a little different from the English grammar.
@ronkisimo In Mexico we usually don't add al, we simply say "jugar + sport" = jugar fútbol, jugar tenis, jugar béisbol.
I really wish there was a Mexican version of Duolingo. Too many instances of things I'll never use when I move there.
Nearly all of the Spanish you'll learn here is applicable in Mexico. Even if they tried to make everything Mexican Spanish, you'd still have regional difference from one part of Mexico or another.
Still wondering the proper differences between le gusta, el gusta, and se gusta.
le gusta = to like (be pleasing to him/her. I do not believe that el gusta and se gusta are grammatically correct. However, note that "a él le gusta" = he likes it (it is pleasing to him); "a élla le gusta" = she likes it (it is pleasing to her); and "a ellos les gusta = they like it (it is pleasing to them).
The sentence translates into English as Felipe likes to play baseball. The Spanish, however, is closer to Baseball is pleasing to Jorge. The "a" in the Spanish sentence is the preposition "to."
With sports it's always a + the sport. It's been consistently used that way for me
Danielconcasco, I believe he is talking about the inconsistent use of "a" For example, Él juega al béisbol versus Él juega deportes. The difference, of course, is that "deportes" is not the name of a sport.
I am having lots of problems understanding why there needs to be an “A” before Felipe. Would it be wrong to say “Felipe se gusta jugar al béisbol”?
It is acceptable and is a better answer than what Duo has provided. In English the verb form used as a noun is the gerund. For example Swimming is fun. In this case, swimming is a gerund, it is acting as a noun, and it is the subject of the sentence. In Spanish, the verb form used as a noun is the infinitive. For example Nadar es divertido. In this case, nadar (to swim) is the infinitive, it is acting like a noun and is the subject of the sentence. For this exercise, to maintain consistence between the grammar of Spanish and the grammer of English, it is logical to tranalate jugar as playing. Many people translate jugar as to play because they are using a literal translation. It is a minor point and I will not argue with it, but I prefer grammatical consistency. For your logical translation, I am giving you a Lingot.