Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) has resumed its 2020 season with cardboard cutouts in the stands to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“I definitely think it’s worth it, just to give people something to watch, something to look forward to right now,” Donn Roach, a pitcher for the Uni-President Lions, told The Wall Street Journal. “There’s nothing better than giving people hope, which I think baseball would do.”
Despite its close proximity to China, where the virus is believed to have originated in the city of Wuhan, Taiwan has seen fewer than 450 confirmed cases. Like other institutions, the CPBL has kept precautions in place, such as temperature checks for all players entering the parking lot and quarantining all players recently arrived from abroad for two weeks.
“Hopefully a lot of people can see it and get that little glimmer of hope that things can be back to normal and this can be beaten,” Lions pitcher Josh Roenicke, who was quarantined upon his return to Taiwan after he traveled to Florida last month for the birth of his child, told the newspaper.
“For those three hours, they get to forget about life,” Rakuten Monkeys pitcher Justin Nicolino said. “They get to forget about all the bull—, all the stuff negatively affecting them and dive into watching what they love.”
Major League Baseball’s 2020 season, which has already been delayed, remains in doubt as the U.S. works to contain the pandemic. League officials and the players’ union have previously discussed playing the entire season in the Arizona Diamondbacks’s empty stadium.
“It allows for immediacy of a schedule, where you might be able to begin it and televise it, provide Major League Baseball to America,” Scott Boras, president of the Boras Corporation, told The Associated Press of the plan earlier in April.
“I think players are willing to do what’s necessary because I think they understand the importance of baseball for their own livelihoods and for the interest of our country and providing a necessary product that gives all the people that are isolated enjoyment," he said.