By Julie Glass
Major League baseball in America shut down seven weeks ago, just as spring training was entering its last two weeks, as a result of the coronavirus.
And we’ve had to make do with re-runs of World Series games and other high-profile games of the past.
Well, ESPN has come up with something live to watch:
South Korean baseball. The Korea Baseball Organization season began today, and ESPN has announced plans for live broadcasts of its games.
Baseball on the other side of the world is still baseball — even if spitting on the field has been temporarily banned. But American fans will notice subtle differences and quirks in the South Korean game.
There is, for example, a ton of variability in talent on KBO lineups. A team might field a player who could be a star in Major League Baseball but also play someone who would just barely make an MLB bench and others who would fit best in the minor leagues.
“There’s 65 or 70 high schools that play baseball in Korea, so they’re drawing from a much smaller talent pool,” said Aaron Tassano, an international scout for the Samsung Lions, whose season-opening game against the NC Dinos aired on ESPN this morning.
The KBO is regarded as an offense-centric league, with cozy ballparks. But the league has taken steps in recent years to shift the advantage away from its hitters, including “de-juicing” the ball and expanding the notoriously small strike zone.