Baseball is back, just not in the U.S.
The Korean Baseball Organization kicked off its 2020 season Tuesday, a little over a month after its originally scheduled Opening Day. Although there are no fans allowed at games while the coronavirus pandemic still commands global social-distancing guidelines, live professional baseball is being played for the first time since Major League Baseball suspended spring training March 12.
In Thursday’s installment of his diary series with the Associated Press, Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman reflected on his first impressions of the excitement surrounding the KBO season.
“It does sort of show, I guess, how starved we are for sports content,” Zimmerman wrote. “And I don’t mean that in a bad way -- this is no knock on the Korean league -- but just to have live sports, of any kind at all, is really a big deal right now. If things were normal, there’s zero chance you would have people watching Korean baseball on TV here; they’d be watching us play. But there it is on ESPN, with Karl Ravech and other people who’d normally be talking about the main big league games.”
Meanwhile, MLB officials are reportedly preparing a return-to-play proposal that they hope to put in front of the union by next week. According to ESPN, the league is aiming to resume spring training June 10 before kicking off a shortened season July 1.
However, there are still plenty of issues to iron out before the first pitch is thrown—chief among them how to ensure the safety of everyone involved in putting on MLB games. For Zimmerman, the KBO offers a chance to see what kind of response would be made if a player tested positive.
“Hopefully it doesn’t happen, but what if one of the players there gets the virus? I would want to see how the league reacts and what they do for that player and for his team and the teams they played against,” Zimmerman wrote. “It is kind of nice to have someone go first.”
For now, he can sit back like the rest of baseball fans and see how things go over in Korea. There is still a long way to go before there are games being played in MLB ballparks once again.
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