As Major League Baseball remains on hold in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, many MLB fans are eager to watch competitive baseball, while the opening day of the league is still yet to be determined.
Some good news for baseball fans is that ESPN decided to televise the Korea Baseball Organization games starting May 5, 2020. The season opener between the NC Dinos and Samsung Lions was aired on Tuesday, and many MLB fans have been watching KBO since, despite the time difference.
Korea Baseball Organization
There is a total of 10 teams in the league: The Doosan Bears, Kia Tigers, LG Twins, Lotte Giants, Samsung Lions, KT Wiz, NC Dinos, Kiwoom Heroes, Hanwa Eagles, and SK Wyverns.
Since there are only 10 teams, KBO has a balanced schedule and each team plays a 144-game season, playing the other nine teams 16 times.
How Does It Compare to MLB?
The playoff structure is different from that of MLB. There is greater emphasis placed on the regular season stats. Top five teams qualify for the playoffs, and the top overall squad gets a pass to the best-of-seven championship series.
The No. 4 and No. 5 teams play in order to advance to the next round to play the No. 3 team. Then the winner plays the No. 2 team, with that winner then playing the No. 1 team in the championship series.
In Major League Baseball, bat-flipping is regarded as disrespectful and has a negative connotation. On the other hand, KBO widely accepts the action as just part of the game and considers it as a joyous celebration.
Each team in KBO has its own cheerleaders and songs. They even have cheer songs for individual players.
Why Do MLB Fans Watch KBO?
Simply for the love of the game, fans are watching KBO even though most of them are unfamiliar with the organizations, and even the country. Also, the high level of competitiveness and skill from the players make it more intriguing and fun to watch.
KBO has some friendly faces for MLB fans. Veteran pitchers like Dan Starily, Adrian Sampson, and Mike Wright are currently playing in KBO. Former MLB hitters Aaron Altherr and Preston Tucker are present in the organization as well.
One of the greatest advantages of KBO is fan engagement and excitement. Korean fans cheer while chanting their team’s songs, and cheerleaders help pump up the crowd.
Fans are more loyal to their teams since there are not many teams in the league. Although fans are absent during this time of the pandemic, cheerleaders are in the crowd and cheering on their team.
What Can KBO Gain from This?
While there is a lot that MLB can learn from KBO, the Korean league can also gain lots from this experience.
It is the first time KBO has been broadcasted outside of Korea, and as it is attaining worldwide fame, so the reputation of the organization will increase.
It is an opportunity for players to show off their talents and skills and be recruited to foreign teams. Currently, there are only three Korean players in MLB, and eventually, MLB teams are bound to discover more untapped potential in this talent pool.
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