Spring has come and Opening Day baseball is nowhere to be seen. Spring Training was canceled and Major League Baseball postponed the start of the season as the United States battles the coronavirus pandemic.
But there’s new hope for fans sorely missing America’s past-time. They merely need to look across the world to Taiwan, where the island’s Chinese Professional Baseball League played the first Opening Day ballgame of the 2020 season on April 11.
In an attempt to raise the profile of Taiwanese baseball, Eleven Sports network is streaming home games for one Taiwanese team, the Rakuten Monkeys, live on Twitter with English commentary—for free. Simply visit the Eleven Sports on Twitter.
Fans in the U.S. may need to set their alarms. With the 12-hour time difference, games start between 5 and 6:30 a.m. Eastern Time. The full schedule of Taiwan’s baseball league, including start times, can be viewed here.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Professional Baseball League said it’s not yet clear whether English broadcasts will continue for the entire season.
Taiwan, which China considers a breakaway province, managed to stop coronavirus from gaining a foothold by quickly locking down its borders and requiring 14-day quarantines for all travelers. It also has ambitious testing and monitoring regimes. So far, the island of 24 million has fewer than 400 cases of coronavirus and six deaths.
Large gatherings, however, are still banned, which means games have been played in front of robots and cardboard cutouts, instead of the usual noisy, chanting crowds.
Taiwanese baseball, which has just five teams, may be the only major professional baseball league playing after nearly every other major sports league canceled or delayed their seasons amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Korean baseball is not set to begin its regular season until May. In Japan, where a state of emergency was recently declared in seven prefectures including Tokyo, Nippon Professional Baseball announced it had abandoned plans to begin its season in late April.
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