Baseball season was supposed to start on March 26. And the three months that have since passed haven’t just felt long because of a lack of games. They've been made infinitely more frustrating because of seemingly endless squabbles between MLB owners and players.
On Tuesday, after weeks of disagreement around both compensation and length of season, progress finally came with an agreement to re-do Spring training starting July 1, and begin a 60-game season on July 24. (The postseason will, as usual, feature 10 teams and be wrapped up by the end of October.)
One crucial, and as yet undecided factor is what health and safety protocols will look like once the 2020 season begins. Given the fact that 40 MLB players and staff—from teams including the Philadelphia Phillies and the Toronto Blue Jays—just tested positive for COVID-19, this might prove even trickier than all the recent salary negotiations.
While the long-awaited start date for the season is great news for fans, it’s safe to say that Giants and A’s supporters won’t be getting inside Oracle Park or the Coliseum anytime soon. But take heart. Because for teams overseas, filling the stands has become a sport all of its own—especially in South Korea.
The KBO League’s opening game between the SK Wyverns and the Hanwha Eagles set a reasonably sedate standard. The teams battled it out in front of row upon row of banners picturing mask- and baseball hat-wearing “fans.” Heartwarmingly, a message board of real fans watching at home was also projected on the jumbotron.
Later in the month, the Hanwha Eagles took a much more fun (though probably less sanitary) approach to filling the stands at their Daejeon Hanbat Baseball Stadium—a large gathering of stuffed animals. Famous toys in attendance included SpongeBob SquarePants, Ted (of Ted and Ted 2), Mickey Mouse, Stitch (of Lilo & Stitch) and Winnie the Pooh and Piglet. Pokémon had a whole crew there, including the likes of Squirtle, Snorlax and several Pikachus.