World Watches As Korean Baseball Organization Readies To Play Ball
The Korean Baseball Organization at present serves as a "test case being watched by sports leagues around the globe," as it forges ahead with a plan to take advantage of South Korea's "thus-far-successful response" to mitigating the coronavirus pandemic, according to Passan & Gonzalez of ESPN.com. Exhibition games between KBO teams are "scheduled to begin April 21," and following six preseason games, the regular season "could begin." Meanwhile, the Chinese Basketball Association "delayed its scheduled restart," and Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan "paused its return" after three players tested positive for COVID-19. The "same level of care in Korea that allowed the KBO to find itself in this situation" also is the "greatest impediment to its return." Former MLBer and KBO Lotte Giants P Dan Straily said, "If anybody, anybody -- if the No. 1 starting pitcher to the person cleaning, security, R&D -- anybody gets sick in that time, we postpone two weeks." Still, Passan & Gonzalez noted regardless of the KBO's return date, it "might not provide much of a road map for MLB," as the U.S. has "failed to replicate almost all of Korea's institutional successes that allow the KBO to even consider playing again" (ESPN.com, 4/6).
CHANCE TO FILL THE GAP: In N.Y., Tyler Kepner notes if the KBO season were to begin with fan-less games, it would "greatly stifle the atmosphere in a league known for sustained chanting and singing by fans, no matter the score." However, former MLBer Jake Brigham, who now plays in the KBO, said that the league "would still be an appealing alternative for American fans craving baseball." He said, "I understand there’s a lot going on and it’s terrible. But the KBO has wanted to boost their exposure worldwide, and if they can do it in a safe manner, there’s a real opportunity for the Korean players to have that worldwide exposure, so people can understand there are some incredibly talented people in this league” (N.Y. TIMES, 4/7).