KBO set to open season on Saturday, schedule includes Olympic break

KBO set to open season on Saturday, schedule includes Olympic break
02/04/2021
The schedule includes a break from 19 July to 9 August to allow the reigning Olympic gold medalists -- the Korean National Baseball Team -- to participate in the Tokyo Olympics with the country's best players.

The 2021 season of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), the top professional sport league in the country and WBSC Associate Member, opens on Saturday, 3 April.

Five games are scheduled for opening day:

  • Hanwha Eagles @ KT Wiz
  • Kia Tigers @ Doosan Bears
  • LG Twins @ NC Dinos
  • Lotte Giants @ SSG Landers
  • Samsung Lions @ Kiwoom Heroes

KBO games will be open to fans, with tailored policies in place for different venues. Ballparks located in the area of Seoul and in other metropolitan areas (the homes of Doosan Bears, LG Twins, SSG Landers, KT Wiz, Kiwoom Heros) can be filled up to 10% of the maximum seating capacity. Other venues (the homes of Lotte Giants, Samsung Lions, NC Dinos, Kia Tigers, Hanwha Eagles) will be permitted to fill the stadium up to 30% of the maximum seating capacity.

KBO stated that the decision is based on the government COVID-19 guidelines and that the rules are subject to change, depending on the latest relevant protocols.

The 10 participating teams will compete in a 144-game regular season, which closes on 8 October. The schedule includes a break from 19 July to 9 August to allow the reigning Olympic gold medalists -- the Korean National Baseball Team -- to participate in the Tokyo Olympics with the country's best players.

Starting this season and ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, KBO is implementing various rule changes that correspond to WBSC's international/Olympics baseball rules.

KBO will announce their post-season at a later stage.

Defending champions NC Dinos look like the team to beat. They still rely on home run power by National Team sluggers Sung Bum Na, Yang Eui Ji and import Aaron Altherr. Koo Chang-Mo and Drew Rucinsky are the aces of the pitching staff.

The 2019 KBO champions, the Doosan Bears, who lost the 2020 Korean Series against the Dinos, will rely on the power of Cuban first baseman José Miguel Fernandez, but had to replace ace pitcher Raul Alcantara. Walter Lockett, a 26-year old right-hander who appeared in 20 Major League Baseball (MLB) games over three seasons, will take his spot on the roster. Veteran lefthander Ariel Miranda, a 32-year old Cuban who has played in MLB, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL), is another addition to their staff.

The KT Wiz are seen as another competitor, even if they lost their star hitter Mel Rojas. Zoilo Almonte, a 31-year old Dominican slugger who hit 31 home runs over three seasons with the NPB Chunichi Dragons, will have to fill his shoes.

The SK Wyverns attracted a lot of interest after they signed former MLB All-Star Shin-Soo Cho, who will make his KBO debut at the age of 38.

KBO is the most-attended sports league in Korea. Before the pandemic, the league attracted as many as 8 million paying spectators in a single season. With baseball back at the Olympics this summer and Korea out to defend their gold medal, the baseball buzz in the nation could raise to unprecedented levels.

Korea is the current No. 3 in WBSC Baseball World Rankings.


You might also be interested in:
- KBO makes changes in line with WBSC/Olympic rules
- Korean former MLB All-Star Shin-Soo Cho to make KBO debut at 38
- Chung Ji-taik elected KBO Commissioner
- Venezuela's Premier12 skipper Subero becomes first Hanwha Eagles foreign manager
- NC Dinos win 2020 Korean Series