May. 19, 2020
KBO; It's not the league we asked for but it is the league we deserve… AND NEED
On May 5th, we finally ended the long drought of no live sports (unless you count the NFL Draft). Since March 11th, all leagues in the United States postponed their seasons until further Covid-19 in under control. After what has seemed like years we finally have sports to watch and follow and it looks like the Korean Baseball Organization will be the prominent league to focus on for now.
The Korean league is of course not ideal, as we would wish to see our leagues return, with the players and teams that we know. Even with the league returning, we see that there is nothing emptier than an empty stadium. With no fans allowed we not only see the economic impact fans have on sports but also the emotional impact fans have. That being said, live baseball is a sign of hope and something that we might want to start to follow with the global pandemic taking it's toll on our country (and the world).
The analogy I thought of when thinking of the excitement surrounding the KBO start of their season was a bag of chips. Is a bag of chips a meal? No. But if you've been on a Greyhound bus or a flight for six hours and didn't bring food and finally receive a bag of chips, will that bag of chips be perceived as a meal?
We are starving for live sports. The country of South Korea now gets the opportunity to display to the world how the beautiful game of baseball is played under their rules and their league. The rest of us now have something to turn to in a time where we are scrambling for thing to be optimistic about. South Korea is the pioneer in the return to live sports, the rest of the world will watch and wait and if the KBO is successful and most importantly able to continue safely then we might be able to see more leagues across the globe return.
I understand that calling baseball and sports for that matter a need is a excessive and a lie. Sports are entertainment and a non-essential, humanity can and has survived without it. I will say that through this pandemic, we have seen the symbolism of sports in a society. Like many forms of entertainment, sports aren't needed for survival but they are a sign that we as people have done more in this world than survived, we thrived, we created, we accomplished. Our most advanced societies throughout history had sports, a display in many ways of the greatness of the society. To see sports back in South Korea is a sign that we are not only surviving, we are once again creating and advancing.
We currently are looking to South Korea to learn a lot from them. In baseball, we will see if a tie is better method to ending a game rather then going to extra innings until a winner is decided. In health, we see how testing, tracking and tracing those that had the virus can lead to preventing the spread and ultimately diminishing the threat altogether. In baseball, we will see if bat flips are an acceptable form of celebrating a home run (something that is looked down upon by many players in the MLB) and how creative a bat flip can become. In technology, we saw how South Korea was able to create apps that were able to input patients symptoms and contact them with a doctor if they needed.
The Olympics are a great opportunity to display the host country to the rest of the world in a positive light. In 2018, South Korea hosted the Winter Olympics and showed the world how they are one of the leading innovators. With the steps that South Korea took during the spread of this Coronavirus, in 2020 the rest of the world now gets to see the innovation in ironically a more effective way. Baseball is America's national pastime but the game is now South Korea's and frankly, they deserve it until we can bring back our league.
If you are joining me as a follower in the KBO, I recommend looking out for a few things that I personally will be taking note of. The most important is how their unique rules effect the game, evaluate the positives and negatives since the MLB can adapt one of them in the future. The second thing I will be looking out for are the young Korean ballplayers, the KBO is a minor pipeline to the MLB and the young players are the ones that can potentially make a major splash in the major leagues years down the line. The final thing to keep in mind are the American players or more accurately, the former MLB players. The non-Korean players are generally good but weren't able to make it in the MLB, they were missing only a few things but that was enough to prevent them from going to the majors (a fair comparison is watching soccer in the MLS, some of the players are stars well past their prime or American players that aren't good enough to for the European leagues A.K.A. not Christian Pulisic).