For months now people have been crying about baseball coming back. We all know that they really meant Major League Baseball and not baseball in general. Well, it’s time for people to admit that MLB is in the middle of a justifiable labor dispute and there may not be an MLB season this year. Even if MLB does come back it’s likely the entirety of Minor League Baseball will be canceled for 2020. That will leave plenty of gaps that baseball fans will need to fill in their viewing schedules.
Baseball has been back, but even more of it is coming. No, not MLB, I find myself not caring very much for MLB these days. If it comes back, great, if it doesn’t I won’t care much at all. What I’m talking about are the various professional leagues that are about to start up around the globe. Still, baseball all over the world has been affected by COVID-19 and the resumption of professional baseball is no different. I’m not expecting anyone to watch all of these leagues, but you owe it to yourself to check out some of them.
The Chinese Professional Baseball League and Korea Baseball Organization have been playing games for close to two months now. While the KBO isn’t allowing fans and can only be viewed on ESPN, legally at least, the CPBL van be viewed via a multitude of methods and has allowed fans back into ballparks with zero restrictions. Both leagues also have farm leagues whose games are also available to watch via various free and legal methods.
Nippon Professional Baseball is about to begin play. While it is at a higher level than either the KBO or CPBL it’s not as accessible viewing wise. The NPB farm leagues are hard to find, and though Pacific League games can be viewed through a service that service is a tad on the pricey side. The Central League is, well, the JPCL and thus it’s very hard to find and watch legally. The NPB is still coming though, and that is a great thing. It’s unclear as of right now whether any of the other Asian leagues will play baseball this year, but hopefully one or two more will take the field.
Liga Mexicana de Béisbol has plans to start up in August and their games are always easy to find and stream online. Unfortunately, the rest of the Mexcian summer pro leagues have been hit hard by the COVID-19 shutdown and have gone virtually silent as to whether they will start up at all in 2020. The only other professional Latin American league that is close to coming back is Serie Nacional de Béisbol out of Cuba. They are traditionally a winter league, but this year the CNS had planned on starting very early and playing through into the winter. Even if that doesn’t take place the CNS as well as all the other winter leagues appear to be on track to actually play come wintertime.
In North America MLB has never been the only show around, but this year that should be more apparent than ever before. The American Association has announced a July 3rd start date, while the United Shore Professional Baseball League, Pacific Association, Pecos League, and a few others are all hoping to get going in the next few weeks. The Frontier League has remained without any plans and their 2020 season is in jeopardy. The same is true of the Atlantic League where it seems like they may not be able to implement a plan to safely play this season. The Sugar Land Skeeters have taken this into account and announced their intention to run a four-team professional league in Texas beginning sometime in July.
Baseball has been back and more of it is on the way. Be patient because the crowds will be small in some places and nonexistent in others. Leagues will play fewer games, teams may not be able to play in their home cities, and new rules will definitely be in place. Stop crying for baseball to come back and take the time to actually watch the baseball already being played or the baseball that is to come. I can guarantee you will enjoy the baseball you are watching far more than the MLB owners showing absolute contempt for the sport we all know and love.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Unknown