Baseball returned to ESPN on Tuesday but in a non-traditional way. The World-Wide Leader in sports aired their first Korean Baseball Organization League game at 12 a.m., returning some normalcy to the sports world.
It wasn’t all terrible, either.
The NC Dinos played the Samsung Lions in the opening game, which began on a 30-minute rain delay. The Dinos won in a 4-0 win with Oklahoman Drew Rucinski getting the win for NC.
The KBO has 10 teams and all have a corporate sponsorship: Kia Tigers; Samsung Lions; LG Twins; Lotte Giants; Hanwha Eagles; SK Wyverns; Kiwoom Heroes; NC Dinos; KT Wiz; and Doosan Bears.
ESPN announced the deal the day before they went live on Tuesday morning will broadcast six KBO games per week with full-play-by-play from their baseball broadcasters from inside their homes. For ESPN, the live games are a nice pie for their viewership despite being in the middle of the night.
The KBO made some adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The largest difference is there were no fans in the stands but without the wide panned shots, you really didn’t notice it. Other differences were the umpires, base coaches and other staff wearing masks.
They also had audible fan chatter within the background of the broadcast. ESPN said it was the stadiums but you could hardly tell the difference whether it was the actual stadiums or the broadcast overlay. Either way, it worked for the first broadcast.
The KBO has been holding preseason games since April in this format and could be the blueprint for professional sports to return in America.
The fans of these teams watched as we did, either streaming online or on the television. Other fan bases, such like SK Wyverns, sat on mattresses and chairs outside of the stadium, listening to the game being played.
South Korean only had three new cases on Tuesday, their lowest increase since late February. Country officials started relaxing social distancing guidelines and the league plans maintain a 144-game regular season schedule.
This guy will be up, catching parts of the games for now. It’s a sport and I’m a sports guy. Then, the replay to finish up the game with the replay in the afternoon.