Passan/Gonzalez: Can the U.S. return to sports soon? South Korea might offer clues

From Jeff Passan and Alden Gonzalez at on April 6, 2020:

Halfway across the world, in the country that thus far has stifled the coronavirus better than any, they’re playing baseball again. The games are intrasquad scrimmages. The players sometimes wear masks on the field. It is sports with a dystopian twist. And yet South Korea has pitchers throwing pitches and hitters swinging bats and fielders gloving balls, and the rest of the world doesn’t.

The fragility of it all isn’t lost on Dan Straily. He is 31 years old, a right-hander who for eight seasons pitched in Major League Baseball. In December, he signed a one-year contract with the Lotte Giants of the Korean Baseball Organization, a 10-team league that has served as an incubator for young talent and a proving ground for veterans seeking an alternative path back to the major leagues.

Today, the KBO is much more: a test case being watched by sports leagues around the globe. As seasons in almost all sports are postponed indefinitely, and as increasing numbers of people lock down to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Korean baseball is forging ahead with a plan to take advantage of its country’s thus-far-successful response. Exhibition games between KBO teams are scheduled to begin April 21. Following six preseason games, the regular season could begin.

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Originally published: April 7, 2020. Last Updated: April 7, 2020.