DETROIT – As Major League Baseball owners and players continue to haggle over money and details, the chances for a 2020 season are dwindling. Meanwhile, the Korean baseball League is up and running and playing games.
Jamie Romak was drafted by the Atlanta Braves out of high school. He spent years in the major and minor leagues, then he settled on guaranteed contracts overseas. The Canadian has played in South Korea for the SK Wyverns since 2017.
“The years I’ve been here, we’ve been really good,” Romak Said. “We won the Korean series in 2018.”
This year are certainly been unique. Instead of starting the season on time, the league was shut down for a month due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
“There are ten teams in the league and they pretty much kept players and staff together,” Romak said. “There was one entrance coming and going. They moved non-married Korean guys to a dorm complex. It was all about keeping our exposure limited to general public.”
Romak said they continued to practice and play games against each other. Then, at the beginning of May, the league returned with precautions.
“I’ve never been tested once,” Romak said. “Everyone asks me that, but I’ve never been tested once. They have thermal temperature checks at the entrance every day. That’s not uncommon with a lot of places here. They want you to wear masks coming and going.”
Romak said so far, it’s working. No player has gotten the virus. They currently play games without fans, with the hope of fans returning at some point. Romak said it’s been fun to have all eyes on the KBO recently.
“Everyone is desperate,” he said. “Sports fans want sports. Baseball fans are getting their fix on Korean baseball. The exposure on ESPN and TSN. I have old friends messaging me. Guys I’ve played with in States are following along.”
The only thing that would make this season better is if Romak’s wife and two young boys could join him. So far, they’re stuck in quarantine in Canada. He can’t wait for them to join him soon.
Romak believes if they can play baseball there, then they can figure out how to play baseball here. The Korean league plans to play a full 144-game season, with playoffs beginning in November.