Quick check-in on the KBO (and a possible MLB season plan)

The Korea Baseball Organization season is underway. It is nearly a week old and began without any fans in the stands. For now, it will stay that way and we’ll see if that changes at some point.

I haven’t watched a lot of KBO action yet, but I’ve enjoyed what I have seen. I admire the ESPN announcers for calling games at 1 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. from their homes and doing such a good job.

As for games without crowds, let me first say I want the fans back. All of them, when it becomes safe to do so. So far, while it’s a bit strange, it seems you can get used to watching games without fans for now. I do think we can get used to that at least for a short time when and if Major League Baseball returns this year.

My guess is we won’t miss the fan noise that much initially. However, I can see it really feeling strange when, let’s say, the Orioles or any team at home produces a walk-off win and all we hear is the cheering from the players themselves. Or when a reliever gets out of a huge jam in the seventh or eighth inning to keep a lead. Silence will be strange. Or if someone hits a go-ahead homer in the late innings. Same thing.

As for KBO play so far, former Oriole Tyler Wilson, who I interviewed for this entry, had a rough first game on Friday. Starting his third year for the LG Twins, Wilson allowed seven runs and seven hits over 4 1/3 innings and took a loss.

Not making excuses for him, but he was under quarantine and limited to his apartment for two weeks, with only a mattress to throw into to keep his right arm loose. After that, he did pitch twice in exhibitions, so I’m pretty sure Wilson would not make any excuses. In two years in the KBO, he went a combined 23-11 with a 2.99 ERA.

Brooks-Delivers-Front-at-DET-Black-Sidebar.jpgFormer Oriole Mike Wright did get a start and win for the NC Dinos in his KBO debut on Thursday. Wright allowed four hits and two runs over five innings with seven strikeouts. Right-hander Aaron Brooks made a strong debut outing for the Kia Tigers. Over 5 2/3 innings, he allowed just one run with no walks and six strikeouts. Dan Straily, pitching for the Lotte Giants, gave up three hits and two runs in 5 2/3 innings in his first game. One-time Oriole Odrisamer Despaigne of the KT Wiz allowed just one run with eight strikeouts over six innings in his season debut. Former Oriole Hyun-Soo Kim went 6-for-16 (.375) with a double, homer and three RBIs in his first four games.

Looking at strikeout rates: During the baseball shutdown, from time to time, we’ve taken a look at some O’s career leaders. Here are the pitchers with the top 15 strikeout rates in club history. And we’re working with a minimum of 500 innings pitched in an Orioles uniform.

18.7 - Mike Mussina
18.4 - Hoyt Wilhelm
17.0 - Tom Phoebus
16.7 - Connie Johnson
16.3 - Ben McDonald
15.8 - Pat Dobson
15.6 - Mike Boddicker
15.3 - Steve Barber
14.1 - Jim Hardin
14.0 - Milt Pappas
13.9 - Billy O’Dell
13.7 - Jim Palmer
13.6 - Dave McNally
13.3 - Mike Flanagan
12.8 - Robin Roberts and Jack Fisher

The potential for a July return: Both this story in The Athletic (subscription required) and this story detail a potential plan for the return of MLB in July. I say return since spring training had already started, but these plans detail the start of what would be a much shortened 2020 regular season.

The games would be played at home parks, or as many as it would be possible to play in. Games would start with no fans in attendance.

This proposes a season of possibly 78 games with expanded playoffs to include seven teams from each league. Teams would stay in geographic regions and the American League East clubs would only play within the division and against the five National League East teams. One proposal reportedly calls for four series of three games each within the division for 48 total games. And two three-game series against the NL East clubs for 30 more games.

It appears that MLB officials will take a proposal to team owners tomorrow and then possibly present the proposal to the MLB Players Association on Tuesday.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms!

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