The Korea Baseball Organization announced plans this week to begin its regular season on May 5, according to Jee-ho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency. Should KBO succeed with its plans, it would become the second baseball league to launch its 2020 season since the spread of the novel coronavirus, joining Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League. The league began preseason games on Tuesday, and KBO still wants to play its usual 144 games in a season that will run through November.
The KBO and CPBL should provide more than hope and entertainment to American fans yearning for baseball. They could provide blueprints for Major League Baseball to enact.
What could that entail? Let's hit on four aspects of the KBO's plan that MLB should co-opt.
1. No fans, at least for a while
The CPBL has been playing its games without fans, and the same will be true of the KBO. The general public will not be admitted to any preseason games, and is expected to be barred from early season games as well. The possibility of the public attending games deeper into the season is to be determined. At present, the odds wouldn't seem good, but things can change.
2. Proactive measures
Any sports league hoping to play on before the development of a coronavirus vaccine will have to be proactive in preventing infection. KBO intends to implement a multi-pronged approach in that regard. Every player's temperature will be taken twice before games, and those same players will be required to fill out a health questionnaire issued by the league, per Yoo.
3. Improving hygiene
KBO will prohibit players from spitting, and will ban barehanded high fives and handshaking. Oh, and players will be "strongly" encouraged to wear masks in the clubhouse and elsewhere in the ballpark, save for on the field and in the dugout. Umpires and other non-playing personnel -- be it execs, bat boys, whomever -- will also be forced to wear masks and gloves.
4. Planning for a positive test
If and when a player does show symptoms of having contracted COVID-19, that player will be quarantined. If a player tests positive for COVID-19 during the season, the league will shut down for three weeks and games during that time will not be made up.
It should be noted that South Korea is farther along in the process than the United States, with Sunday marking the first time in nearly two months the country recorded a single-digit amount of new cases. The U.S., for comparison, added at least 25,995 new cases on Sunday, according to data from the CDC.