Nippon Pro Baseball, the Japanese major league, had been scheduled to start April 24, which is just a couple of weeks from now.
That won’t happen because of a state of emergency declared in Japan recently by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. That extends through May 6:
Shortly after Abe made the declaration official, NPB said it would close its main office, located in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, for the time being. Commissioner Atsushi Saito also released a statement saying the league would have to further delay the start of its season.
NPB’s opening day, which had already been pushed back twice from its original date, March 20, was tentatively scheduled to begin April 24. The league, however, had already begun moving on from that plan last week after consultations with a panel of medical experts. Abe’s directive was also an expected outcome.
So like Major League Baseball, NPB is likely on indefinite hold and could wind up losing a large chunk of its 2020 season or perhaps even the entire season.
Meanwhile, though, Korea’s major league (KBO) is set to begin in early May:
With new cases of the coronavirus falling in South Korea, the country’s baseball league is targeting an early May restart with teams ready to play preseason exhibition games as early as April 21.
On Wednesday, the country recorded 53 new infections, the third consecutive day that has seen new cases around the 50-mark. The downward trend from a Feb. 29 peak of 900 is increasing the chances of the 10-team Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) League, not only starting in May but playing a full 144-game season.
“If the situation continues to improve from here and on, teams will start facing each other in preseason games beginning on April 21, and we should be able to get the regular season started in early May,” KBO secretary general Ryu Dae-hwan said after a meeting with club general managers in Seoul.
As noted in the AP article link above, Korea seems to have flattened the curve enough so that they can resume many parts of normal life, including baseball. It’s not clear whether the games in Korea would include fans in attendance, but in Taiwan, they have come up with a unique solution to “no fans in the stands”:
With the 2020 #CPBL season starting on April 11 behind closed doors. The Rakuten Monkeys announced that they will have robot mannequins in the stands dressed up as fans. pic.twitter.com/miT6JkFoM0— CPBL STATS (@GOCPBL) April 7, 2020
Here in the USA, SB Nation sent out some questions to FanPulse members regarding their feelings about a 2020 MLB season. Here are the results.
The numbers above are more or less in line with the poll I posted in Wednesday’s article about playing a 2020 MLB season entirely in Arizona. I’ll repeat again, just so I’m clear: While I do think an Arizona-based season would be a way for us to have some baseball in 2020, I also believe it shouldn’t be done unless many contingencies and logistics can be addressed to everyone’s satisfaction. That might not be possible. We’ll just have to wait and see how things go as time goes by.
One final question was asked of FanPulse members:
That’s how I feel, for sure. One of the best things about baseball is its daily progression, with games for each team nearly every day from late March/early April through the end of September, the march from an 0-0 record to (hopefully) 90-plus wins and a postseason berth in October. We won’t have that in 2020; hopefully, that can return in 2021.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the FanPulse survey. Throughout 2020, SB Nation FanPulse will send out polls to plugged in fans from all 30 teams If you want to participate, sign up here to join us.