I have to admit, it's been a while since I've watched any CPBL games and I haven't been following it as closely as I did when the season first started. But we return to CPBL coverage today with news that the first half of the season has been completed, and the CTBC Brothers are first half champions.
The Brothers currently sit at 36-23, three games ahead of the Rakuten Monkeys. The Brothers clinched the first half championship with a 6-1 win over the Uni Lions this morning.
It looks like those fans are having a great time. I can only hope that we'll have moments like this again soon in the U.S.
If I understand everything correctly, the Brothers have clinched a playoff spot with their first half championship. The Brothers have won seven championships in the CPBL in their time, but haven't won since 2010.
They've faced the Rakuten Monkeys in three of the last five Taiwan Series, and it certainly seems like that scenario is likely again this year.
Maybe during the second half of the season I'll do a better job of following along.
We put out a new episode of the podcast this morning, but due to the nature of podcasting, our recording schedule and the 24-hour news cycle, plenty of news has happened since we put together the episode. To get you caught up on everything you need to know, here are some morning news bullets.
MLBPA not happy with MLB's proposal
The MLB owners gave the players union their first real economic proposal yesterday, and suffice it to say the players are not happy. After weeks of rumors that the owners wanted revenue sharing, the plan they submitted includes the highest-paid players taking the most significant pay cuts.
See these tweets from ESPN's Jeff Passan for an explanation on how that would be put into effect.
Multiple reporters on Twitter have said that the players are not happy with this idea, with the New York Post's Joel Sherman saying "MLBPA sees what MLB offered today as massive paycuts on top of the half-of-year pay lost already. The union is discouraged by the offer."
Multiple reporters also mentioned that this is only the first proposal in a week full of negotiations, so fans shouldn't lost all hope yet.
Oakland A's to stop paying Minor Leaguers
As if the reduced paycuts suggested by the owners aren't bad enough, the Oakland A's have decided to completely stop paying their Minor League players, according to an email sent out by A's general manager David Forst.
In addition to the announcement that A's minor leaguers will no longer be paid, the email also says that they are still under contract with the team and are not permitted to perform baseball services for any other club. The whole thing is disgraceful, but that last part really drives it home. The A's will have a tough time coming back from this from a PR standpoint.
CPBL attendance limits to be lifted
The CPBL has been allowing fans at games for weeks now, starting with 1,000 fans per game and working up to 2,000 fans. Soon, teams will be allowed to have full attendance at games.
According to CPBL Stats on Twitter, the Taiwan CDC will lift gathering limitations on June 7. Taiwan has had 441 cases of COVID-19 with 416 recoveries and seven deaths. The country has gone 44 days with no new cases.
This is great news for the CPBL and the game of baseball, as it is another step back towards normality.
Yesterday I wrote a post about Eleven Sports discontinuing live broadcasts of the Chinese Professional Baseball League in the United States. English-speaking baseball fans had grown accustomed to the free live streams, but were now being asked to pay $2.49 per game to watch them on a service called LIVENow.
Many fans complained about the newly-implemented paywall, and Eleven Sports did something that corporations rarely do - they listened.
The sports broadcasting organization announced this morning on Twitter that they would continue streaming the games in the United States for free on LIVENow.
"Dear US baseball fans," the statement from Eleven Sports reads. "We hear you loud and clear. We appreciate that this is a special time for everyone and so we've asked our partners at LIVENow to deliver you LIVE coverage of our upcoming CPBL games for FREE."
Eleven Sports will continue to broadcast CPBL games for free to the rest of the world, but for those of us here in the United States who have started following Taiwanese baseball, LIVENow will be our platform going forward.
This development is great for everyone, as fans were threatening to stop watching when the paywall was put into place. Now fans can continue to watch the CPBL and the league will still get exposure all across the world.
Yesterday ended up being a pretty big news day, especially for these times of social distancing when there's not a whole lot going on. In case you missed anything that went down over the past 24 hours, I've got you covered here:
Hall of Fame Induction Weekend postponed
One of the best weekends of the baseball calendar has been canceled this year. The Baseball Hall of Fame's Board of Directors made the decision to cancel the 2020 induction weekend yesterday.
“Induction Weekend is a celebration of our National Pastime and its greatest legends, and while we are disappointed to cancel this incredibly special event, the Board of Directors’ overriding concern is the health and well-being of our new inductees, our Hall of Fame members, our wonderful fans and the hundreds of staff it takes to present the weekend’s events in all of its many facets,” Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, said in a statement. “We care deeply about every single person who visits Cooperstown.”
The 2020 inductees, Derek Jeter and Larry Walker, will be celebrated in 2021 with any additional 2021 inductees.
Manny Ramirez wants to return to baseball
The 47-year-old former big leaguer announced in an interview with the Taiwan Times that he hopes to find a roster spot with a CPBL team in 2020. Ramirez played in the CPBL for the Fubon Guardians in 2013 when they were known as the EDA Rhinos.
The two-time World Series champion finished his MLB career in 2011 with 555 home runs, but has not garnered many votes in Hall of Fame balloting.
Multiple summer leagues announce delays
With the future of the COVID-19 pandemic unknown, multiple collegiate summer leagues decided to push back their Opening Days, releasing statements yesterday. The Coastal Plain League on the East Coast and the Prospect League in the Midwest have each announced that they will start their seasons on July 1st.
Four summer leagues, including the Valley Baseball League and Cape Cod Baseball League, have already canceled their entire 2020 seasons.
Rumors swirl about MiLB cancellation
Rumors floated around the internet on Wednesday evening that Major League Baseball had decided to cancel the 2020 Minor League Baseball season. This led to multiple credible reporters debunking the rumors, and eventually MiLB itself issued a statement saying that the 2020 season has not been canceled.
While it's good news that the season has not been canceled, the last sentence there isn't so comforting. We're still a long way from getting baseball back into our lives.
MLB officials "near certain" baseball will happen in 2020
According to Charles Gasparino of Fox Business, MLB officials are feeling pretty confident that baseball will happen in 2020.
While the details are not laid out completely yet and there have been multiple plans as to how exactly baseball will be played, this is a bit of good news amidst the negativity that surrounds us these days.
A few days ago I wrote a post about the Chinese Professional Baseball League beginning play in Taiwan over the weekend. As I am in desperate need of some live baseball, I decided to get on board and begin following along with the league.
I chose the Uni-Lions as my team to root for. According to CPBL Stats, they're an underdog team. On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the best at any given category, the Lions are rated a 3 in batting, starting pitching, bullpen, baserunning and defense. Not great compared to some of the more advanced teams in the league, such as the Chinatrust Brothers or Fubon Guardians, but I didn't want to be a bandwagoner, so I decided to throw my support to the Lions.
They won their first game of the season 4-1 against the Brothers and made international headlines for hitting the first home run of 2020. After Sunday's opening game, they had a few days off before resuming play against the Monkeys on Wednesday.
Since Taiwan is 12 hours ahead of the East Coast, games begin at 6:35 a.m. ET. I'm not committed enough to get up that early yet, but when I woke up yesterday, the game was still going.
Down 7-5 in the eighth inning, the Lions put two runs across the plate to tie it up. The game eventually went into extra innings, and from what I understand, the CPBL has a 12-inning limit for games.
The Lions put another run up in the top of the 10th, but the Monkeys quickly answered in the bottom of the inning.
After failing to score in the next two innings, the game went to the bottom of the 12th. Monkeys designated hitter Zhu Yuxian stepped up to the plate and promptly hit a walk-off blast to right field to win the game 9-8.
Fast-forward to today's game, I wake up and check the live stream on Twitter to see if the Lions are bouncing back this morning, only to find that they're down 15-2 in the eighth inning.
While the Lions were able to get one run across the plate in the top of the ninth, the deficit was too much for the Lions as they fell to 1-2 on the season. They'll take on the Fubon Guardians tomorrow. Fubon is 2-0 on the season
Some thoughts so far on the CPBL:
So far, I'm a fan of what I've seen in the CPBL, and until we get baseball back in the United States, and maybe even after we do, I'm going to continue to follow the CPBL and the Uni-Lions.
Matthew Atkins, Journalist and Baseball fan.