The Day in (No) Sports
ESPN will air six games a week to its sports-deprived audience, at least those who are night owls or early risers. Plus World’s Strongest Man at home, and bumps in the road for Australian rugby.
Yang Eui-ji of the NC Dinos in action against the Lotte Giants during a Korea Baseball Organization exhibition match. The season-opening game will be broadcast on ESPN. Credit…Jeon Heon-Kyun/EPA, via Shutterstock
May 4, 2020Updated 3:16 p.m. ET
ESPN, in its desperate search for sports programming during the coronavirus pandemic, has been showing a wide range of events, from the acclaimed Michael Jordan documentary “The Last Dance” to “classic” basketball games, to, well, cup stacking and cherry-pit spitting.
The network finally has a live sports savior. On Tuesday, nearly 7,000 miles from ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., headquarters, the Samsung Lions will host the NC Dinos as the Korean Baseball Organization, delayed since March 28, gets underway. ESPN will air six games a week to its sports-deprived audience, at least those who are night owls or early risers.
“We have a longstanding history of documenting the game of baseball,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN’s executive vice president for programming, “and we’re excited to deliver these live events to sports fans.”
The season-opening game between the NC Dinos and the Samsung Lions will be broadcast on ESPN at 1 a.m. Eastern on Tuesday. The regular schedule will include games at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday to Friday, 4 a.m. on Saturday and 1 a.m. on Sunday.
The defending champions are the Doosan Bears, who swept the Kiwoom Heroes in last year’s Korean series. Or you could root for the Eagles, Tigers, Twins, Giants, Wiz or Wyverns.
The strongmen each day will be faced with a general challenge — lifting or carrying, for example. They then will have to devise their own shows of strength: Carrying a sofa? Lifting a bookcase? Curling the family dog?
Eddie Hall, the 2017 World’s Strongest Man winner, will host the at-home edition. Hall was in the news over the weekend when he lost the world dead lift record. The new record-holder is Hafthor Bjornsson, the actor known for playing the Mountain on “Game of Thrones,” who broke the record on Saturday in Iceland. He lifted 501 kilograms (1,104 pounds), besting Hall’s mark by one kilo.
The winners will be determined by the viewers, who will be asked to judge the competitors on both strength and creativity.
An ESPN staple, the strongman competition dates to 1977. The actual event this year was rescheduled from May to November in Bradenton, Fla.
As some European soccer and Asian baseball leagues ease back toward action, the National Rugby League in Australia — which is aiming to return on May 28 — has faced a few too many bumps in the road.
On Monday, four players from the South Sydney Rabbitohs were told to stay home from training because of flulike symptoms. And the coach of the Sydney Roosters, Trent Robinson, also has symptoms and will be tested.
And while league players will be asked to follow rules on hygiene and social distancing, some have shown they have trouble with such strictures. Last week, three players were pictured camping with about a dozen people, drawing fines from the police and the league. And another player was fined after being seen in TikTok videos dancing with a group of women.
Leagues around the world are wrestling with the choice of trying to finish their seasons or canceling them. While ending a season may seem like a cleaner, simpler choice, it can bring complications as well.
The soccer season in France came to a halt because of the coronavirus outbreak and will not be resumed. The team in first, Paris St.-Germain, was declared the champion. And hard luck to the teams in 19th and 20th, Amiens S.C. and Toulouse. Even though there were still 10 games to play when the season was halted, they will be relegated.
That’s not sitting well with Amiens. The team calls the decision “unfair” and is demanding that the league expand to 22 teams from 20, so that the two relegated teams can stay up and the two promoted teams, Lorient and Lens, can still join.