Taiwan relaunches baseball season in world first — with surprise guests

Cardboard cutouts of fans and press can be seen in the stands (Photo courtesy of CNA)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, many countries have issued lockdowns and forbidden public events and unnecessary trips outside. Yet, Taiwan has recently become the first country to restart its baseball season with surprise guests in attendance. 

Events with 500 or more people are still banned because of the pandemic, leading the Rakuten Monkeys from the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) to use cardboard cutouts and mannequins of fans along with drum-playing robots to root for their players.

The ingenious method was met with praise from both local and foreign media.

In the stands, the cardboard cutouts and mannequins were all ‘wearing’ the team’s jerseys, as well as face masks to advocate for virus-prevention measures. 

The mannequins and cardboard cutouts were not only ‘cheering’ for the team, but drum-playing robots were also among the squad to help cheer on players during the unconventional game.

(Photo courtesy of CNA)

As this is the first sports game to be held this year, many countries have asked for ways to watch the broadcast LIVE. 

The general manager of Rakuten Monkeys, Justin Liu, revealed that friends from Japan also expressed their interest in watching the games.

The season’s first two games, which were scheduled between defending champions Rakuten Monkeys and the Brothers on Saturday, and the New Taipei-based Fubon Guardians on Sunday, have been pushed back to later dates as the field at Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium was rendered unplayable due to heavy rains, according to the CPBL.

 

The opening of the baseball season in Taiwan has attracted heavy international media attention, as it is being held at a time when professional sports around the world have practically come to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Richard Wang, World Baseball Softball Confederation’s Asia correspondent, told CNA that a baseball season means Taiwan is still able to have a normal way of life.

“We are very lucky that Taiwan can have a baseball season, and at the same time, it also reflects the solid achievements by the government in coronavirus prevention,” Wang said.

He said that through baseball, Taiwan can show the world how well it has done in its coronavirus prevention efforts.

The CPBL, which was founded in 1989, may not have the extensive history of the MLB of North America, but it certainly provides quality baseball for international fans, he added.

The 2020 regular season will run until Oct. 14, with a total of 240 games scheduled, according to the CPBL website. The other team in the CPBL is the Yunlin-based Wei Chuan Dragons.
The launching of the CPBL games was well-received by netizens, with many inquiring ways to follow the games, claiming that “the baseball world depends on it!”

Foreign baseball fans were also eager to watch the games (Screenshot from Twitter)