The KBO just started and for the St. Louis Cardinals, the success or failure of their league could play a big role in the MLB’s outlook.
If you’re like me, your Cinco de Mayo started early. Real early. In fact, you could say it started day before. Why? Because this St. Louis Cardinals‘ fan was watching live baseball.
If you missed it, it was announced yesterday morning by ESPN insider Jeff Passan that ESPN would once again have live baseball. It just wouldn’t be the MLB—yet.
Starting at midnight (central time) on Monday, the ESPN began showing Korean Baseball Organization games. There will games will be shown six times a week, all at very odd hours, but with replays the following day. All day Monday, Passan was doing a great job hyping up the start of the KBO, highlighting how different the league is.
The biggest difference? Bat flips. What kind? Disgustingly flamboyant and seemingly disrespectful one, whenever it’s even remotely possible.
It’s not looked at the way we look at bat flips though. In the MLB, you would be plunked immediately for these types of reactions to outs. It’s normal and just part of the fun there though.
The first game didn’t disappoint as the NC Dinos beat the Samsung Lions 4-0. That may seem mundane, but it was not. There were lawnmower umps, bat flips, and a rain delay. What more could you want?
It may not have been the MLB, but it was something. Even better though, it could be a great litmus test for plans for the MLB to return.
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These games are being played without fans, everyone not in a baseball uniform is wearing a mask, and there are strict rules players have to follow. Players’ temperatures are checked twice a day and if one player gets sick and is confirmed to have COVID-19, that player along with everyone who has had contact with him has to be quarantined. Along with that, the stadium they played at is closed.
One big difference between the KBO and the MLB is travel. Even if the stadiums in the KBO were put at the edges of Korea, as far away from each other as possible, it would still be within Korea’s 99,720 square kilometer size. For reference, the USA is a whopping 9,833,517 square kilometers. It would be like the MLB played only in the state of West Virginia. One point for the Arizona plan.
Either way, it’s a viable test case to see what things would be like for the MLB, should they adopt a similar plan to begin the 2020 season.
Victoria Kim is an LA Times reporter who works in Korea and covered the game. She had some interesting observations.
It would certainly be weird to not have fans in stadiums, but as we have said time and time again: if it gets baseball back, roll with it.
If the KBO has to shut down at any point, it could be very bad news for the MLB in 2020. However, it went well through Game 1. It was just nice to have live sports back on TV. Go Dinos.