My prayer for some type of baseball has been answered – eh sort of – it’s just in South Korea.
If you haven’t heard the news yet, ESPN will begin airing the Korea Baseball Organization’s games. ESPN will play six live games a week, the only catch is that it’ll be early in the morning. Games will be broadcasted at either 12 a.m. or 4:30 a.m. Central Standard Time.
I would say that doesn’t really matter since our sleep schedules are already messed up from this quarantine lifestyle.
Games will be reaired during the day in case you can’t make that game time. I don’t mind the idea of getting up early, drinking some coffee and watching baseball to start my morning off. It would be kind of like the London NFL game that starts at 9 a.m.
The KBO is made up of 10 teams that play a 144-game season. The organization is similar to that of American baseball leagues except all teams use designated hitters. More importantly, teams can end games in a tie after 12 innings and in the playoffs its after 15 innings, in which the higher playoff seed is deemed the winner. Also bat flips and player reactions are encouraged.
Sure, it’s not exactly what we wished for, but it’s better than nothing. Plus, there are several reasons to pay attention to it.
For starters, whatever happens with the KBO is likely how the MLB season will unfold. South Korea has been used as a model on how to battle the coronavirus pandemic and that’s the exact same case for the American sports world. If the KBO can play games without any infections than it will help pave the way for sports in the fall.
KBO games will be played with no fans to start the season and anyone who is not wearing a baseball uniform will be required to wear a mask. All players have their temperatures checked twice a day. Any player that shows symptoms is quarantined and the league will close the stadium he last played in. Oh, and spitting is banned.
But there are also several American players in the league. Notably, each KBO team is allowed to have up to three foreign players on a roster and every KBO roster features several MLB prospects.
From here, I’ll give a small breakdown of each team to help you pick your team.
My team will be the Kia Tigers. The Tigers are considered the New York Yankees and while I hate the Yankees, they feature the most American ties. Their manager is Matt Williams who was a former National League Manger of the Year and is now the highest paid manager in KBO history. This has raised the stakes for them to win this season. The team also features former MLB pitcher Aaron Brooks who will be a regular starter. For you Braves fans, Preston Tucker is also on the roster and will be a starting outfielder.
The reigning champs are the Doosan Bears who are considered to be the Los Angeles Dodgers of the league. They return the 2018 MVP outfielder of the league.
The Hanwha Eagles are the Cubs before their 2016 World Series win. They are the loveable losers and are considered the most poorly run team in the league, but they supposedly have the most passionate fan base of all the teams.
The SK Wyverns are considered one of the league’s contenders and, in my opinion, has the most exciting storyline entering the season. The team has a big chip on their shoulder as the Wyverns held a seven-game lead in first place, but fell apart at the end of the season. In the last game of the season, the Wyverns lost the regular season title to the Bears.
The Kiwoom Heroes are the unorthodox team of the league and play aggressive baseball and that is most similar to American style baseball. Unfortunately, the team’s owner was convicted of embezzlement, which has given them an Astros scandal type of feel.
The KT Wiz are statistically the youngest team in terms of roster in the league while the organization just joined the league in 2013. So maybe help expand their fan base?
The LG Twins are like the Red Sox to an extent. They have a big rivalry with the Bears as the two teams share a stadium. They have had incredible teams fall short in the big moments and are expected to be a contender for this year’s title. Former Red Sox pitcher Casey Kelley is expected to have a big year on the mound for them. You are darn right that I’ll be tuning in to watch the Twins and Bears go at it.
The Lotte Giants are the worst team in the league. They spent the most money last year and finished in last place. Sounds like they are in for another painful year, but I would say that makes them the biggest underdog entering the season.
The NC Dinos’ claim to fame is their development of Washington Nationals star Eric Thames. They finished in fifth place last year.
The Samsung Lions are more like the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys in terms of franchise history. They won four straight championships from 2011 to 2014. They have since been quite bad and have yet to make a real run. I wonder if their fan base is as tortured as the Cowboys’ fan base? Probably not.
I know this isn’t perfect baseball circumstances. For me, at least it’s something to put on while I work my late nights putting this paper together.
Maybe we can learn some Korean from this league or more importantly it’ll scratch that sports itch.
Don’t get me wrong I would much prefer to be watching games in Pete Taylor Park, but beggars can’t be choosers.