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Korean baseball could return by early May

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Two days ago I linked a story about the precautions the Korean Baseball Organization is taking in order to bring the game back. Today we have something approaching a set date range for that return. Here’s what KBO secretary general Ryu Dae-hwan said after a meeting with club general managers in Seoul today:

“If the situation continues to improve from here and on, teams will start facing each other in preseason games beginning on April 21, and we should be able to get the regular season started in early May”

This schedule is dictated by conditions on the ground, and those conditions are trending in a positive direction. The Associated Press reports that today South Korea recorded 53 new infections, marking the third consecutive day that has seen new cases around the 50-mark. This is down from a February 29 peak of 900. If the league does get going on Ryu’s timetable, it could still play a full 144-game schedule.

The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States and the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in South Korea occurred on the same day. South Korea’s containment of the pandemic has been far more effective than the United States’ for numerous reasons, some of which are detailed here, here, and here.

Oakland Athletics reverse course, will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.