Live From South Korea, Baseball Returns to ESPN

Opening Day is Tuesday on network
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 4, 2020 7:55 PM CDT
Live From South Korea, Baseball Returns to ESPN
First base umpire Lee Gye-sung, wearing a mask and gloves, calls the Doosan Bears' Jung Soo-bin out during a preseason baseball game in Seoul last month.   (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

ESPN's search for a sport being played during the pandemic shutdown has paid off. Starting Tuesday, the network will carry six games a week from the KBO League. South Korean baseball is the only professional league playing through the pandemic, the Wrap reports. "I hope the KBO League can bring consolation to the communities," the commissioner said, welcoming the chance to introduce the league to a wider audience. In addition to showcasing the league and continuing what the network called its "longstanding history of documenting the game of baseball," resuming live sports coverage will help placate cable and satellite distributors, per Variety. The distributors pass on relatively high monthly fees to sports channel subscribers, who haven't been getting the usual programming.

The Opening Day matchup is between the NC Dinos and the Samsung Lions, with the first pitch at 1am EDT Tuesday, 10pm Monday on the West Coast. The network will usually carry the games Tuesday through Sunday on ESPN2 and the ESPN app, using many of its MLB broadcasters, who will work from their studios at home. ESPN plans to regularly show highlights of the games during SportsCenter. Postseason coverage is part of the deal, including the league's best-of-seven championship, the Korea Series. There will be no fans in the stands for now, per USA Today. The league is starting its season late but still plans to play its entire schedule of 144 games. (In the US, NASCAR plans to be the first sport to return.)

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