Asia Minute: Baseball beats pandemic across much of the region
If you’re a baseball fan, you know the World Series starts Tuesday. But while that’s the climax of the U.S. major league season, professional baseball games are continuing across much of Asia — in what has been an unusual season rocked by the pandemic.
Back in the early days of the pandemic, an ESPN programming executive said the network was “thrilled” to televise live coverage of the Korean Baseball Organization’s pro games — in English — and with time zones sometimes challenging for Americans.
That was back in spring 2020 — months before Major League Baseball began a shortened season.
Since then, pro baseball in South Korea has had games without crowds and with crowds of different sizes.
When COVID cases spiked in July, this season was suspended — but the games are back and the season wraps up this coming weekend.
Pro baseball in Japan has also had varying crowd sizes and interruptions — including one for the Olympics this past summer.
The season-ending Nippon Series gets underway the middle of next month.
Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League was the first to allow fans back into stadiums in May 2020 — after about a month of playing without spectators.
This year, the Delta variant led to a two-month hiatus — but the season is back and will continue until late November.
The six-team Australian Baseball League was scheduled to start its 12th season next month — then pushed opening day until “mid to late December” — but last week cancelled the season.
No worries — spring training gets underway for East Asian leagues in about four months.