Korean baseball is a pleasant diversion

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I tend to be an early riser. I’m usually up around 5 a.m. But ever since the coronavirus reared its ugly head and screwed with all our lives, my daily routine has been altered.

Normally, I’d be in bed by 10 p.m., 11 at the latest. These days, with my sheltering in place, I’m usually out by 9, sometimes as early as 8. My great-niece Ella, who’s 18 months old, probably stays up later than I do.

Wednesday, I got up earlier than usual. There was baseball being played in South Korea and my curiosity had been aroused. Never mind I couldn’t name a single player and I had to look up who was playing. But it was either that or wake up to the latest grim COVID-19 statistics on CNN.

Korean baseball league is sports betting hit

Plus, I had additional incentive to get out of bed. I actually had money riding on the outcome of the Korea Baseball Organization game between the Doosan Bears and LG Twins.

The last time I made a bet on my Circa Sports mobile app was in early March during the college basketball season. And since I had funds in my account, there was a line on the game, which was being televised on ESPN2, I figured, what the hell? Maybe I could take a little of Derek Stevens’ money.

Very little.

I made a $20 bet on Doosan, laying 1.5 runs at -105. The Bears were -161 on the money line and I’m not a big chalk player. Doosan was the defending KBO champion. It had gotten drilled 8-2 the night before. The Twins were starting a reliever. I figured maybe there’s some payback coming.

I missed the first pitch at 2:30 a.m. By the time I got up, turned on my Keurig machine for my first cup of coffee, the Bears were batting in the top of the third inning. They would bat around, score five runs and chase the Twins’ starter.

The coffee was tasting pretty good at that point. But I’ve watched enough baseball in my life to know that no lead is safe these days, whether it’s in Seoul or Seattle. Sub-standard pitching is not limited to Detroit, Baltimore or Miami.

The Twins got two back in their half of the sixth. I was hanging on. Fortunately, Doosan played just enough defense to hold the lead and the Bears’ closer came in and set down LG 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

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Final score in the “Battle of Seoul” where both teams share the same ballpark, Jamsil Stadium: Doosan 5, LG 2.

So how good is this brand of baseball? And is it worth getting up at 3 in the morning to watch?

Fundamentally, it’s not bad. Hitters go the opposite way instead of trying to pull everything. Fielders hit the cutoff man more often than not. The umpiring, at least on this night, was excellent. The home plate ump even gave it a little extra schmaltz when he called a batter out on strikes. There are no goofy infield shifts. And while it was strange not seeing fans in the stands, there were some cheerleaders and a couple of weird-looking mascots performing, which was kinda cool. I guess Mr. Met couldn’t get out of quarantine to join in the festivities.

ESPN’s announcing crew of Karl Ravech and Eduardo Perez are very good doing any kind of baseball, be it MLB, Little League, or, in this case, Korean baseball. They were informative, entertaining and I’ll assume they didn’t butcher any of the names of the predominantly Korean ballplayers.

If you’re willing to concede you’re not watching Aaron Judge, Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw, the 10-team KBO is a decent enough substitute for MLB. It’s pretty good baseball and the fact you can bet on it maybe adds to the intrigue and watchability.

A couple of friends did indeed have wagers going on KBO games Wednesday with mixed results. I’m guessing they’ll be watching in the days ahead as we all anxiously await the return of baseball here in the U.S. and Canada.

I’ll be watching as well, wager or not. If nothing else, Korean baseball is a pleasant diversion for a couple of hours and it beats the hell out of seeing the daily coronavirus death totals on the news networks.

About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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