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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Where professional baseball started last night

While MLB remains on hold, the Korea Baseball Organization began its 2020 season last night, with a slew of former Orioles on their rosters.

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MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays
Na na! Hyun! Soo!
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Professional baseball is back, baby! It may be half a world away, but it’s back.

Last night, the Korea Baseball Organization kicked off its regular season, becoming the first professional baseball league (other than the five-team Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan) to begin playing real games in 2020.

The league is taking precautions to deal with the ongoing threat of coronavirus, including playing in empty ballparks and having non-players wear masks and gloves. But still — it’s really happening! Actual baseball! And thanks to an agreement between the KBO and ESPN, you can actually see some of their games on TV — if you don’t mind watching the live broadcast in the middle of the night or in the wee hours of the morning. Last night’s season-opening matchup between the NC Dinos and the Samsung Lions was televised at 1 a.m. East Coast time. I will confess that I didn’t stay up to watch it.

Other games will air live at 5:30 a.m. our time, so you early risers out there should be able to catch some of those. And all of the games will be re-aired at more reasonable hours later in the day, if you’re okay with watching sporting events on a delay. Avoid spoilers!

If you’ve been an Orioles fan for the past few years, you’ll probably recognize several of the names on KBO rosters. The most prominent, of course, is Hyun Soo Kim, who starred for the KBO’s Doosan Bears from 2006-2015 before signing with the Orioles, then overcame a terrible spring training to emerge as a key hitter on the Orioles’ 2016 wild card team. He returned to the KBO in 2018, this time with the LG Twins, and is continuing to rake.

Kim is joined by his former O’s teammate Tyler Wilson, the Birds’ 10th-round pick in 2011 who spent parts of three years with the big club from 2015-17. The right-hander is entering his third season in Korea, where he’s become a mainstay in the Twins’ rotation.

Kim and Wilson are two of six former Orioles in the KBO this season. The others include three washouts from the 2019 O’s pitching staff — Mike Wright (NC Dinos), Aaron Brooks (Kia Tigers), and Dan Straily (Lotte Giants) — and 2016 righty Odrisamer Despaigne (KT Wiz).

You can find some good primers on KBO baseball on ESPN and The Athletic, among others. Who else is kind of getting into this? It may be a bit different from usual, but perhaps the KBO can help us fill that MLB-sized hole in our hearts until baseball is able to return stateside.

Meanwhile, in a parallel universe...

In a universe where COVID-19 doesn’t exist, the Orioles toppled the Blue Jays in the opener of a three-game series last night, 6-5, to improve their season record to an incredible 28-7. There’s nothing like an .800 winning percentage to get fans buzzing.

The game featured another 1-2-3 ninth inning from Hunter Harvey, who struck out the side to nail down his 10th save. Harvey has been a revelation since taking over the closer’s role in early April, inspiring Mullet Mania all around Baltimore, as thousands of fans have changed their hairstyle to match Hunter’s signature ‘do.

Simulation brought to you by the PWAG (Paul’s Wild-Ass Guesses) system.


Former Oriole Tyler Wilson ready to go as baseball returns in Korea (with video) - Steve Melewski
As the KBO season begins, Melewski interviews Tyler Wilson about how he and the league have been adapting to life in a coronavirus world. Has it been mentioned yet that Wilson, who plays for the Twins, actually has twins? I wonder what he’d do if he played for the Dinos?

Orioles’ Top 5 center fielders: Trezza’s take -
Joe Trezza continues his position-by-position all-time O’s rankings with the extremely difficult choice between Paul Blair and Adam Jones for the top CF spot. He ultimately decides on...well, click the link and find out! (That's what we call a teaser, folks.)

The Orioles’ all-underrated team -
Rich Dubroff compiles his all-underrated Orioles team, and I’m surprised not to see Bobby Grich — who had a HOF-caliber career but fell off the ballot on the first vote — on the list. Or has Grich gotten so much attention for being underrated that now he’s properly rated, and thus ineligible for an all-underrated team?

60 Moments: No. 55, The final day of the 2011 season – The Athletic
Joe Posnanski is following up his wonderful Top 100 Players series with a series of 60 great baseball moments. This one focuses on the last day of the 2011 season, in which, as you may recall, the Orioles were prominently involved. What a night that was. I don’t think I got any sleep.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You have just one Orioles birthday buddy: Chuck Locke (b. 1932, d. 2015), a right-hander who appeared in two games for the 1955 Birds. He worked three hitless innings and never made it back to the bigs.

On this day in 1962, the Orioles were the victims of a no-hitter for the first time in club history, with Angels left-hander Bo Belinsky doing the honors in just his fourth major league game. The O’s have since been no-hit six more times.

And on this date in 2016, the Orioles won a 1-0 walkoff over the Yankees in 10 innings. Starters Kevin Gausman and Masahiro Tanaka each pitched eight scoreless innings, with Gausman allowing only three hits, and the Birds won on a Pedro Alvarez sac fly in extras. The winning rally was set up by none other than Hyun Soo Kim, who led off the 10th with a single.