Live baseball is back on ESPN. The sports leader will broadcast a game per day from the Korean Baseball Organization. EWB’s Dan Stokes found a KBO team that New York Mets fans can get behind until the MLB returns.
When ESPN announced they would broadcast one game from the Korean Baseball Organization a day, I was genuinely excited. Not because live baseball would be played instead of a five-year-old “classic” game, but rather because of the uniqueness and different set of rules, the KBO boasts. Following the Korean league will be good for baseball fans, especially followers of the New York Mets.
There are ten teams in the KBO. With no divisions, each team plays one another 16 times during a season. This is how you cultivate real rivalries.
With ten teams to choose from, I wanted one similar to the New York Mets. I didn’t want a storied franchise with multiple championships or high caliber players. I immediately crossed off the Kia Tigers and Doosan Bears. They’ve drawn comparisons to the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees, considering they split 17 Korean Baseball Championships between them.
Additionally, I was looking to root for a reasonably new franchise and a team that had any former New York Mets players on their roster. I settled on the NC Dinos.
The Dinos joined the KBO in 2011. They made it to the Korean Series (Championship Series) in 2016, four years after their first game in 2013, but were swept by the Doosan Bears in four games.
The Dinos who play in Changwon, currently have former New York Mets outfielder Aaron Altherr on their roster. Amazins fans may remember Altherr’s brief days in the orange and blue patrolling all three outfield positions and pinch-hitting appearances. In 2019, Altherr batted .126 with one home run and two RBIs in 26 games for New York.
Altherr isn’t the only ex-Met to appear for the NC Dinos, they also have Logan Verrett. He was with the Amazins in both 2015 and 2016. In 49 games between the starting rotation and bullpen, Verrett amassed a 4-9 record with a 4.56 ERA and 102 whiffs.
Over 29 appearances during the 2018 KBO season, The Woodlands, Texas native amassed a 6-10 record with a 5.28 ERA and 144 strikeouts. He signed a minor-league deal with Oakland in 2019 but is now back with the Dinos.
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Like the Mets with Luis Rojas, the Dinos also have a manager in his first season with Dong-wook Lee. He was promoted after serving as a coach in the organization since 2013.
From my understanding, bat flipping is standard practice and accepted in the KBO. Harkening back to the news of KBO games broadcast on ESPN, I sent my group text of baseball fanatics that it was officially Bat Flipping Season!
Americans were treated to an awesome bat flip last night off the bat of NC Dinos slugging first baseman Mo Chang-min. At 34-year-old he’s still having fun.
It’s good to have some form of professional baseball back on television. While the KBO isn’t the MLB, it is a welcome break from endless “classics” currently airing. Go Dinos, and long live the bat flip.