Archive for June, 2020

Italian Baseball Will Begin July 8

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

The Italian League will begin July 8. They will play three games a week. One game on Wednesday night with a double header on Saturday or a game on Wednesday night with single games on Friday and Saturday. The top four teams will advance to the playoffs. The semifinals will be a best of five while the finals will be a best of seven. The seventh game if necessary will be played on September 26.

In an interesting twist, it was stated all games will be seven innings. There was no discussion on what would happen if the games were tied after seven. They would either accept ties as part of the standings or play extra innings using the international rule.

NC Dinos Popular with North Carolina

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

The NC Dinos are the most popular KBO team for international sales. North Carolina seems to be one of the more popular places for Dinos gear. Perhaps it is because the NC Dinos have the same initials as North Carolina (NC).

Na Sung-Bum is the most popular jersey sold. He is an outfielder for the NC Dinos, though a knee injury last year has limited him to a lot of DH duty this year. He eventually would like to play in the United States. Scott Boras is his agent, so he is off to the right start.

KBO to Begin Allowing Fans With Many No Fun Rules

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

The KBO will begin allowing fans into the stadium. This comes after pressure from some KBO teams complaining about losing money in a fanless environment. No official date has been set for when the fans will be allowed to return, but it will be sometime in early July.

To get the fans back it appears the KBO will have to take some of the fun out of the KBO experience. Fans must wear masks and keep them on throughout the game. They will also have to undergo temperature checks as they enter the stadium, with those reading greater than 37.5 C being turned away from the stadium. They will also have to sit one seat apart from each other, even if they are with a family or part of the same group. Myworld does not have too big an issue with those requirements.

What myworld has a problem with is singalongs, chanting and cheering will be limited. How much so remains unclear. This limitation appears to be associated when those type of activities that are prone to fans making contact. So no high fives, no hugging or clasping arms as you sing for your favorite player. But I’m hoping you can still cheer and sing along without making contact. That is one of the joys of being a KBO fan.

Tickets can only be purchased with credit cards. This allows the team a better opportunity to contact trace. The Box office at stadiums will be closed to limit person to person contact. Buying tickets from scalpers is discouraged. Even though it is illegal it is tough to enforce and it could put fans at a greater risk of infection.

While concession stands will be open fans will be prohibited from eating their food in their seats. While in their seats fans can only drink water or other non-alcoholic beverages. The mass consumption of beer which makes for many of the fans experience will be prohibited. Myworld has heard that beer will be completely prohibited, but there is also wording that says beer can not be consumed while in your seats. This could mean beer could be had if you drink it in the concession areas.

So it appears the new fans will have to be true baseball fans because the rules are taking out many of the fun bonding rituals fans enjoy at a KBO game. Myworld hopes it does not take away from fans having fun while watching the game. Maintain distance, wear your mask, but hopefully you can still cheer for your favorite player.

Myworld wonders what the punishment will be for being too enthusiastic at the ballpark. Ejection from the stadium?

Kang Abandons His KBO Comeback Bid

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

Kang Jung-Ho has informed the Kiwoom Heroes that he has made his decision that he will not rejoin the team. Since he was posted by the Heroes they owned the rights to him. What appears to be quirky about this whole arrangement is the Kiwoom Heroes (called Nexon when he played for them) still owned the rights to Kang even after he had been gone from the KBO since 2014. This put a severe restriction on his ability to be a free agent in the KBO.

As long as Kiwoom still held his rights he was a prisoner waiting for them to make a decision on what they would do with him. The Nexon Heroes placed him on the voluntarily retired list in 2015. Nexon went bankrupt and sold the team to Kiwoom. If Kiwoom chose to activate him from the voluntarily retired list he would then become a free agent and have the ability to sign with another team. There was really no motivation for Kiwoom to activate him to make him available to another team.

What complicated issues was the KBO suspended Kang for one year for his three drunk driving convictions in Korea. This one year suspension would not come into play until he signed a contract with a KBO team. The longer the Heroes waited to activate him the loner Kang would be required to sit out because of the one year suspension. Something does not seem to be right about this process.

It would not surprise myworld to see Kang become a free agent and possibly try playing in Japan or Taiwan. If there is no interest there he could then choose to retire. When he played in the KBO he was one of their more feared hitters. His last season in the KBO he hit .356 with 40 homeruns and 117 RBIs. Even his first season with the Pirates he showed he could play at the major league level, hitting .287 with 15 homeruns with 58 RBIs.

He could still have some juice in his container if some team outside of Korea had an interest in signing him.

Marines Sizzle to Start the Season

Sunday, June 28th, 2020

It has been close to a decade (2010) since the Chibba Lotte Marines won a Japan Series. Not a lot of people expected them to contend for the playoffs this season. They are proving those experts wrong. After losing their opener against the Softbank Hawks the Marines have nailed losses on eight straight opponents since then.

Yesterday they beat the Orix Buffaloes 6-5. Brandon Laird hit a solo homerun in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a 5-5 tie. Jay Jackson put an exclamation point to the win by striking out the side for his first save. The normal closer Naoya Masuda was not available since he had pitched in two consecutive games.

Brandon Laird has led this team on offense. He has hit .344 with his Pacific League leading 5 homeruns (tied with two other players). Those five homeruns have only led to 8 RBIs, but that is enough to lead the team. His eight runs scored also leads the team.

The other foreign player Leonys Martin is second on the team in runs scored (6). He has so far fallen short of expectations with a batting average of just .233. Only one of his seven hits have gone for extra bases (a double).

There are two Japanese players who are also helping with the offense. Seiya Inoue (.375, 1, 7) and Takashi Ogino (.361, 0, 2) are both in the top five in hitting. Inoue is second on the team in RBIs, despite hitting four less homeruns than Laird. Ogino is tops on the team in stolen bases (5).

The pitching, especially in the bullpen is where the team shines. Masuda is their closer with three saves and two holds. He has whiffed seven of the 19 hitters he has faced and has yet to give up a run in his five innings of work. Two foreign pitchers act as the setup men. Frank Hermann (2-0, 0.000) has two wins and three holds in his five appearances. Jackson (5.40 ERA) has one save and two holds in his five appearances. Hermann last year pitched for Rakuten while Jackson pitched for Hiroshima. Both signed with the Marines as free agents to stabilize the bullpen.

Atsuki Taneichi (0-0, 1.38) has been a pleasant surprise in the rotation. Last year was his breakout season (8-2, 3.24) in his second season in the NPB. The only runs he has given up in his two starts are two solo shots. Daiki Iwashita pitched 5.2 shutout innings in his lone start this season. Manabu Mima (1-0, 3.00) was another free agent signed out of Rakuten. Last year he won eight games for the Golden Eagles but the Marines expect him to add a veteran presence on the mound..

So far the Marines are marching in step as they lead the Pacific League. Whether they can keep their lead is up to the Hawks, Eagles and Lions, the three favorites to contend for first place in the Pacific.

Lions Power Evident Against Monkeys

Saturday, June 27th, 2020

Even though the Uni-President Lions are third in the CPBL, they are first in power. That was evident when they ripped the Rakuten Monkeys 21-5. Lin An-Ko was the big bat driving in seven runs with his two homeruns. He now has 16 homeruns on the season, second to teammate Su Chih-Chieh who has 18. Lin though is the RBI leader in the CPBL with 58.

The loss knocked the Monkeys into second place with the China Trust Brothers 6-3 win over the Fubon Guardians. The Monkeys and the Brothers have been leapfrogging each other over the last couple weeks. With only a half game separating the two, when one wins and the other loses the first place lead is exchanged.

There were 6,500 fans who saw their home team Monkeys lose to the Lions. The Brothers won in front of 9,100. S big crowds are coming out to watch baseball.

The Lions lead the CPBL in homeruns with 72. The Monkeys are second with 65. Li Lin surpassed his slumping teammate Zhu Yu-Xian, who has been stuck on 12. Zhu has also seen his batting average drop to .358. The Monkeys have had trouble winning since the bat of Zhu has gone quiet.

Heroes Rolling with Winning Streak

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

The favorite KBO team for myworld is the NC Dinos, who currently stand at the top of the standings. Breathing heavily on them is the team that myworld feels is the most talented in the KBO, the Kiwoom Heores. Yesterday they swept the LG Twins in a doubleheader 5-2 and 8-5 to extend their winning streak to eight games. The Twins are struggling now with a six game losing streak. The Heroes still find themselves three back of the Dinos, in second place in the KBO.

The Heroes are a long ways from the top winning streak in the KBO. The SK Wyverns, who are nestling near last place in the KBO hold that record with a 23 game winning streak in 2010. They just recently broke a 8 game losing streak with a 7-0 win over the Doosan Bears. The team that started the Wyverns on the losing streak was the Kiwoom Heroes.

The Heroes may have one of the best players in the game in the 21 year old Jung-Hoo Lee. In his previous three years in the KBO, most of them as a teenager he never hit below .324. Power was absent in his game and as a rightfielder that would be a prerequisite for most players not named Ichicro to survive in the major leagues. This year Lee has found the power game with seven homeruns early in the season, already passing his KBO high of six. He is also hitting .382. Last year was his first year walking more than striking out (45/40). The increase in power has not sacrificed his average nor his ability to make contact (20/13). Major league teams will pay a pretty penny to get this youngster on their team.

Next year shortstop Ha-Seong Kim may be coming to the major leagues. He replaced Jung-Ho Kang as the shortstop of the Heroes when Kang left for the Pirates. At the time he was just 19 years old. Now he is just 24. He hit 19 homeruns that first complete year to match his age and has been consistently around .290 with twenty plus homeruns for his KBO career. Last year he slugged 19 homeruns and drove in 104 runs. He got off to a slow start this year but is now rolling getting his average up to .271 with 10 homeruns and 31 RBIs. He is another player with more walks than whiffs (29/23).

The Heroes are expecting Kim to depart for the major leagues next year so they have been playing 21 year old Hye-Sung Kim at shortstop a lot and moving Ha-Seong Kim to third. It is ironic that both Kims in their rookie year in the KBO hit .188. Hye-Sung does not seem to show the power as Ha-Seong but he is solid defensively and is hitting .287 with 4 homeruns and 20 RBIs. He plays second base when the other Kim plays shortstop. The Heroes made him their first round pick in 2017.

The Heroes have been doing all this winning after releasing their foreign player Taylor Motter, who only hit .114 when he was playing. They have replaced him with former Chicago Cub infielder Addison Russell. Russell will probably need to move over to third base where the Heroes have a hole in their offense after he fulfills his 14 days in quarantine.

The Heroes are also do all this winning without the normal production from Byung-Ho Park, who played briefly for the Minnesota Twins in the major and minor leagues. Park averages about 40 to 50 homeruns in the KBO. Last year he only hit 33 which was a down year for him. It also ended a KBO streak of five straight seasons of 100 or more RBIs when he finished two short of 100. The power is still there with his 11 homeruns this year, but his average is down at .231. His career KBO average is .286 but he has had an inability to make contact.

The Heroes standout pitcher this year is foreigner Eric Jokisch. This is his second year in the KBO after going 13-9 with a 3.13 ERA last year. This year he has roared out of the gate with a 6-2, 1.63 ERA. He did start out the season with five straight wins, then suffered two losses in a row before recovering again with a win in his last outing.

The 25 year old Sang-Woo Jo has been dynamite out of the pen. Last year Jo earned a career high 20 saves with a 2.66 ERA. This year he has been difficult to hit, with a 2-0 record, 9 saves and a 0.59 ERA. He has only given up one earned run all season in 15.1 innings, limiting the opposition to 10 hits. Jo seems to be coming into his own. He did miss two weeks because of a stiff neck but the Heroes had enough confidence in him to put him back in the closers spot for two saves on Thursday against the Twins.

The Heroes also hope to get improved production from Jake Brigham. Last year Jake finished 13-5 with a 2.96 ERA in his third KBO season. He has had three years of 10 or more wins. He missed the start of this season because of injury and has gotten off to a slow start (0-1, 5.00) in his first four starts. He has yet to survive into the sixth inning. The Heroes hope he gets it together.

The Heroes also have signing rights to Jung-Ho Kang. If they sign him Kang will have to serve a suspension after his three DUI convictions in Korea. The Heroes this year do not seem to have room for Kang in their infield but next year they could use him if Kim departs for the major leagues. When Kang was in the KBO he averaged over 20 homeruns per year with 40 homeruns in his last season before departing for free agency to the Pirates in the major leagues.

The Heroes will next play the Kia Tigers. The Matt Williams managed team is 23-19, sitting in fifth place. That would be enough to make the playoffs in a wild card scenario, but the higher up you finish in the standings the better off you are.

Parra Starts Hot for the Giants

Monday, June 22nd, 2020

Gerado Parra is one of the hottest hitters in the NPB. The Yomiuri Giants were the only team to sweep their opponent (Hanshin Tigers) in the weekend series openers for all the teams and a big reason for that sweep was the bat of Parra. He batted .556, slugged two homeruns and drove in six in the three games. He also walked three times to put his OBA at .667.

When Parra made his first plate appearance of the NPB he walked up to the “Baby Shark” song. Since there are no fans in attendance it could only be appreciated by those watching the game on television. Myworld will be curious about the response once the fans can hear the music live.

Mexico Still Struggling with Start of Summer Season

Monday, June 22nd, 2020

The summer Mexican League is still struggling with the start of the season. The teams do not want to begin the season with no fans since like the minor leagues in the United States the fans are their major source of revenue. They also can not extend the season because it would then run into the more popular winter season. Many of the players who play in the summer league also play in the winter league.

They do have a tentative date to open on August 7, but that is dependent on the status of the corona virus and their ability to allow fans. The league president has mandated that the season will not start if fans are not allowed in the stadium. The current plan is to end on November 7, for a 48 game season. If they have to postpone beyond August 7 there may be no point in having a summer season.

Japan Hopes to Allow Fans by July 10

Monday, June 22nd, 2020

Japan has opened their season this past weekend to no fans. They hope that will change by July 10 when 5,000 fans will be allowed in the stadium. The Japanese parks tend to be larger than the parks in Taiwan so they can space out more people. They are then hoping that by August 1 the stadium can be filled to half capacity.

Some of conditions that may need to exist before they allow fans are 1) ability to do temperature checks, 2) masks must be worn, 3) prohibiting fans from countries with high corona virus rates - which could limit United States fans from attending 4) and limiting the fun at the stadium by not allowing any jumping or rocking back and forth, even waving towels will be discouraged.

Korea has yet to have a date for when they will start allowing fans. The major leagues continue to stumble with their money grab and threaten even the start of the season.