While Major League Baseball may not be back until July, real live baseball games are still happening in South Korea. ESPN has reached a deal to broadcast six KBO games each week, and the network is using its top-tier announcers—including Jon Sciambi, Jessica Mendoza, Karl Ravech and Eduardo Perez.
The SK Wyverns and Samsung Dinos are playing, and while the stands are empty, it’s still baseball.
How to Watch
The KBO League features 10 teams that are full of some of Korea’s most talented baseball players. Games are played at a variety of stadiums across the country. ESPN broadcasts live KBO games in the US, and there are plenty of streaming options for fans to watch games without cable.
You can live stream KBO games on a variety of apps and streaming services, including Hulu with Live TV. The service costs $55 a month, and it includes ESPN and ESPN2 in its package of channels. It also includes cloud DVR and other features that you’d expect from a pay-TV provider.
The NC Dinos are currently leading the pack in home runs and have been dominant in the early part of the season. They are followed closely by the Doosan Bears, Kiwoom Heroes, and LG Twins. The top five teams make it into the playoffs, which work in a step ladder system. The winning team then advances to the Korean Series, a best-of-seven series against the other top seeded team.
With Major League Baseball in a state of suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic, ESPN has filled the void with early-morning games from the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO). The top level of baseball in South Korea features ten teams and a 144-game season. The NC Dinos are off to a fast start this year, with the Kiwoom Heroes and Doosan Bears not far behind. The KBO also boasts 13 former NCAA college baseball student-athletes across its ten teams.
Those in the US looking to watch Team Korea take on the Czech Republic at Tokyo Dome in their third game of the World Baseball Classic can find a live stream for this matchup on Mzgtv1. This popular site provides free streaming services for overseas sports like MLB relay, Overseas Soccer Relay and Korean Baseball Live, as well as tips and tricks for a successful streaming experience. The site is available on iOS, Android and other devices.
KBO is known for raucous atmospheres where fans cheer loudly while beating drums and singing their team’s fight songs. ESPN, in its desperation to provide live sports programming during the coronavirus pandemic, has tapped into that energy by airing six games a week.
All teams are allotted three roster spots for foreign players. The Lotte Giants have brought in former MLB pitcher Dan Straily (A’s, Cubs, Astros and Reds). Other former MLB players have made the jump to Korea this season as well including pitcher Casey Kelly of the LG Twins and first baseman Jose Miguel Fernandez of the Doosan Bears.
A key difference between KBO and American baseball is the number of innings a game is played. A regular-season game is limited to 12 innings, while a playoff game can last up to 15 innings. This allows managers to play more creative strategies with their bullpens. It also prevents extra-inning games from extending beyond the average three-hour and five-minute length.
Seeing KBO baseball in person is an experience that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. Not only does it provide an incredible sporting event, but also an opportunity to immerse oneself in Korean culture and watch an entire nation come together as one.
If you’re lucky enough to be in the country during baseball season, head over to Jamsil or Gocheok Sky Dome to see a game in person. If not, most Seoul bars and pubs will show the games on their tv screens as well.
South Korea’s passionate “cheering culture” can sometimes make a game feel more like a rock concert than a sports match, though each team puts their own spin on it. Sections are packed with fans wearing their team uniform shirts, blowing up noise-making balloon sticks, and singing fight songs. This makes for a truly memorable experience, especially when a Seoul team faces an out-of-town rival. For example, when the Nexen Heroes played the Lotte Giants in Busan, the stadium was packed to capacity with screaming fans. 한국야구실시간