You may have noticed we have baseball on TV again. The live games begin at 2:30 AM, there are no fans, and they are being played in Korea, but it’s baseball nonetheless.
ESPN decided to start carrying KBO games because, why not? There is nothing else on. It’s good programming.
You can catch some former Rainiers in action, too.
Pitcher Mike Wright was with both Tacoma and Seattle last year, and he signed to pitch for the NC Dinos in 2020. He made his first start on Wednesday morning (our time), getting a win against the Samsung Lions. His team is off to a 3-0 start.
Ex-Rainiers and Mariners utility man Taylor Motter is the Kiwoom Heroes, getting his first KBO hit earlier this week. Motter is in his first season playing in Asia after spending time in the independent Atlantic League last year.
Skyline High School graduate Adrian Sampson pitched for Tacoma in 2016, and spent nearly all of 2019 in the major leagues with the Texas Rangers. He signed to pitch for the Lotte Giants this year, but left the team before opening day to deal with a family matter at home. Should he return to Korea, he’ll have to go into a two week quarantine before being allowed to join his team.
Each KBO team is allowed three foreign players, and most of them played in Triple-A or the Majors. Notably, Albuquerque first baseman and natural born Rainiers killer Roberto Ramos signed to play in Korea this year – in 14 games against Tacoma in 2019 he hit .389 with four homers and had 21 RBI. Former PCL star Jamie Romak (Memphis, Albuquerque, Reno) is one of the top sluggers in Korea, as is Round Rock’s career home run leader Jared Hoying.
The best place to go for English language KBO standings, schedule, and stats is the MyKBO website.
You can also find a former Rainiers and Mariners pitcher playing in the professional league in Taiwan, which is called the CPBL. Left-hander Ariel Miranda is with the CTB Brothers franchise, and he gained a moment of infamy when he allowed the first home run in 2020 pro baseball last month.
The CPBL does not have an American TV deal, but they do stream some of the games online. The CPBL has one terrific team name: the Rakuten Monkeys. But another team is called the 7-Eleven Lions, so you win some and you lose some.
English language reports from the CPBL with links to live streams are right here.
- There are increasing reports that MLB players are going to try to return to spring training camps in mid-June with the hope of starting play in early July.
- PCL president Branch Rickey told the Austin Statesman the league will not play without fans. This is a good story on the state of the league.
- How good are the leagues in Korea and Taiwan? Baseball America ranks them compared to the US minor leagues.
- In Taiwan they are about to start letting fans into the games.
- Seattle Times baseball writer Ryan Divish has a Mariners Mailbag (note that it took a pandemic for him to stay on topic).
- The loss of the high school baseball season was felt by players all around the country, including Curtis High School senior Kyle Russell who is considered the top prep draft prospect in the state.
- Dodgers teenage catching prospect Diego Cartaya couldn’t return to Venezuela, so he moved in with Oklahoma City manager Travis Barbary and his kids.
- The Omaha Storm Chasers have found a hit: drive-in fireworks.
- It’s been tough in Sacramento, where the River Cats have laid off much of the front office staff.