As we all know, baseball, like all sports, has been shut down due to the coronavirus. But, in South Korea, which is further along in its recovery and did a tremendous job containing the virus, the KBO – with certain rules and provisions in place – is about to start their season.
Desperate for live sports content (like the rest of us!), ESPN has just announced that it will be broadcasting KBO games:
Hey guys. ESPN is going to have live baseball six days a week. Live. Baseball. Almost. Every. Day.
First pitch of the Korean Baseball Organization season is at 1a ET, less than 14 hours from now, and we’ll be calling the game between the NC Dinos and Samsung Lions.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 4, 2020
This is going to put “staying up late to watch West Coast baseball” to shame.
BUT. IT’S BASEBALL!!! Heck, let’s play two…
Now, I have some working knowledge of Japanese Baseball League, having lived in Japan for a few years.
But aside from knowing that they heartily embrace the bat-flip in South Korea (see above!), we’re all going to need to come up to speed fast on the KBO and its ten teams.
So, here’s a very quick primer!
Kia Tigers (Gwangju)
The Tigers are one of the league’s original teams and have won the most KBO titles (11), with their last title coming in 2017. The Tigers have a familiar face to many MLB fans in new manager and five-time MLB All-Star and former National League Manager of The Year Matt Williams.
Samsung Lions (Daegu)
Also one of the original KBO teams, the Lions have won the 2nd most KBO titles (8) to the Tigers, and have been the runner up a whopping ten times. They have a long tradition of winning baseball, but they haven’t won a title since 2014.
The Doosan Bears (Seoul)
Lions and Tigers and Bears…Oh My!
Another of the original KBO teams, as the OB (“Oriental Brewery”) Bears, the Seoul-based Bears have won the 3rd most KBO titles (6) and are the defending champions of the KBO. In 2019, they won the Korean Series, sweeping the Kiwoom Heroes. They were also the first champion of Korean professional baseball league, defeating the Samsung Lions back in 1982.
SK Wyverns (Incheon)
Founded in 2000, the Wyverns have won four WBO titles, last winning in 2018. From 2007-2012, they made the Korean Series six straight times, winning three times and losing twice to the Samsung Lions and once to the Kia Tigers. The Wyverns also hold the KBO record for consecutive games won for winning 23 straight games in 2009-2010.
What’s a wyvern, you ask? Good question! It’s a “a winged two-legged dragon with a barbed tail,” like this.
The Hanwha Eagles (Daejon)
Founded in 1985, the Daejon-based Eagles have won one KBO title, way back in 1999. They’ve had themselves quite a long draught.
From late 1990s to early 2000s, the team was renowned for their sluggers, nicknamed the Dynamite Bats after one of Hanwha’s main fields of business, explosives production.
LG Twins (Seoul)
The Seoul-based LG Twins are another of the original KBO teams, enjoying its heyday in the early 1990s when it won its two KBO titles. After a long down-turn from 2003-2013, they’ve been more competitive again of late, to the delight of their fan-base.
Lotte Giants (Busan)
Based in the southeastern city of Busan, the Lotte Giants are one of the original KBO teams. They are also one of the most popular teams in the league, and several of the KBO’s records for attendance, even though the winning has been a bit sparse lately.
The Giants have won two KBO titles, one in the early 1990s and one in the late 1980s. Often called the Busan Seagulls (Korean: 부산 갈매기), because the official bird of the city of Busan is the seagull, they’re in the midst of another down-turn in terms of competitiveness, last winning a playoff game in 2012.
KT Wiz (Suwon)
Nobody beat the Wiz, nobody beats the Wiz!
An expansion team that came on the scene in 2015.
They haven’t yet won a title.
Kiwoom Heroes (Seoul)
The Heroes have been around since 2008, and have never won a KBO title, though they did make the Korean Series last year. They are the only KBO team to play in a dome. The Heroes trace some of their lineage through the now defunct Hyundai Unicorns. They’ve been a competitive playoff team – for the most part – for the past seven years.
NC Dinos (Chagwon)
Like the Heroes, the Dinos have never won the KBO title. Unlike the heroes, they only came into existence in 2013. And they have had some nice success, making the playoffs in every season except their inaugural one.
So, who ya got?!
Photo Credit: Twitter/jaadande