I promise this is not a trick to get anyone’s hopes up. If you have been following my Twitter account, you know I have been promoting a lot of sports video games but this is not about that.
As of Tuesday morning, ESPN is once again showing real live sporting events and baseball fans can rejoice.
The shutdown of the sports world has certainly affected all sports fans but for some, there has been an easy substitute to help out in the meantime. Football fans got to have the excitement of the NFL Draft while basketball fans have gotten to reminisce about Michael Jordan thanks to “The Last Dance.”
For baseball fans, it has been an extended offseason as the 2020 MLB season couldn’t even get started before the coronavirus pandemic canceled the remainder of spring training and postponed regular-season games indefinitely. If baseball fans want to get their fix, it had to be via one of the historic games MLB Network has shown over the last two months.
That all changed this week when ESPN struck a deal with the KBO League, a 10-team professional baseball league in South Korea. The Worldwide Leader in Sports is set to air one game per day with some of the network’s top commentators such as Karl Ravech, Eduardo Perez, Jon Sciambi and Jessica Mendoza on the call for each game.
South Korea has opened up most of its society after seeing a major decline in new COVID-19 cases over the past three weeks. According to NPR, the country reported no new domestic cases last Thursday, reaching that milestone for the first time since the main surge 10 weeks ago.
The baseball league was anxious to get started and it is taking advantage of being one of the few sports leagues worldwide to start competing again. ESPN will be the only English-language channel for the league’s games and the KBO is expected to see an unprecedented stream of revenue because of the deal. The deal will run through the end of the 2020 season, even if the MLB season begins.
“We’re thrilled to become the exclusive English-language home to the KBO League and to showcase its compelling action and high-level of competition,” ESPN executive vice president of programming Burke Magnus said in a release Monday. “We have a long-standing history of documenting the game of baseball and we’re excited to deliver these live events to sports fans.”
This may not be the exact same thing as the MLB baseball fans are missing so much but it is still the same game and there is plenty of talent to watch in the KBO. It will not be the New York Yankees or the Atlanta Braves but I do want to remind everyone that at least it won’t be the Houston Astros. (I’m never going to stop.)
As expected, there is a slight catch for those wanting to watch these games. Due to the time difference, many of these games will be in the middle of the night when most of us are sleeping but for night owls like me or for you early risers, there is a good chance you can catch some baseball even if it’s not a full game.
The league’s opening day started Tuesday morning at midnight and that is the earliest start time for any game currently on the ESPN schedule. Games will start as late as 4:30 a.m., meaning you can catch all the excitement of the final innings with a cup of coffee in the morning.
Or if you’re anything like me, you have lost track of all times and dates so staying up late or waking up early doesn’t make that much of a difference.
It’s not back to normal yet but we do have baseball to watch and sometimes you just have to be grateful for what you have. Once we start taking care of things over here like the public did in South Korea, we may have the baseball we love back again but until then, baseball fans can get their fix from the KBO.