Vendetta’s Baseball Guide To Surviving The Lockout: Foreign Leagues
Rather than rant on Twitter about how much you hate Rob Manfred (which you have every reason to do so), why not put that energy to good use? Just because Major League Baseball is indefinitely delayed, doesn’t mean baseball is gone for good. We here at Vendetta understand that, and we’re going to utilize this fact to help you through this difficult time with foreign baseball.
We are lucky enough to live in a period of time where baseball isn’t just an American (and Canadian) phenomenon. Many countries elsewhere offer great competitive leagues full of amazing talent. Today, we will highlight them, how to watch them, along with teams and players to look out for from each league.
La Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (Mexican League)
The first foreign league we will cover is La Liga Mexicana de Beisbol. Mexico has a rich baseball history dating back to the early 20th century. The Mexican League is the highest level of play and has produced some great players. The level of play is considered to be almost equal to Triple-A in America.
Currently, there are 18 teams with the most recent champion being Los Toros de Tijuana in 2021. The teams are split in half between North and South Divisions. Don’t worry about blackouts. Facebook streams every LMB game live for free.
What’s even more interesting is you’re bound to see a lot of former or Free Agent Pro Players who partook in the MLB at one point in their life. Former Brewer/Astro/Yankee Chris Carter crushed the Mexican League in 2019, hitting 49 home runs. Ex-Cub Junior Lake was a key factor toward the Toros championship slashing .293/.390/.485 last season. Fernando Rodney, a former all-star closer, posted a 1.80 ERA with Tijuana. This league deserves more recognition. Heck, if you live in San Diego, go to a game in Tijuana!
The KBO League
The Korean Baseball Organization, or KBO, is the highest level of baseball in Korea. Many excellent players have had their start there including Hyun Jin Ryu, Shin Soo-Choo, and Ji-Man Choi. There are ten teams with the KT Wiz winning the most recent championship in 2021.
It is a little more difficult to watch KBO games and I’m not talking about streaming. The time difference is anywhere from 14-17 hours, so you may be watching a game very early in the morning. To stream a game take advantage of this link. It’s not illegal to stream it either.
Like Mexico, the league contains a multitude of energy. People in the stands blow horns, while players feed off the fans performing bat flips and flashiness. Also similarly, the league has its expatriates. Players to look out for include Preston Tucker (former Astro), Jung Ho Lee, Sung-bum Na, and former Angel Jose Miguel Fernandez.
The league is a fun one to watch, and definitely deserves some attention as well. This may be a little more difficult to pay close attention to due to how foreign it is, but hey, it’s baseball.
Nippon Professional Baseball Organization
Not too far away from Korea is the NPB in Japan. They take their baseball very seriously in the land of the rising sun. It is arguably the most popular sport. The league has recently garnered a lot of attention for producing perhaps the best player in the world: Shohei Ohtani.
That’s not all. Players such as Ichiro, Kenta Maeda, Hideo Nomo, Hiroki Kuroda, and Daisuke Matsuzaka all were a part of the league at one point in their illustrious careers.
This league is absolutely a gem. The playing level is said to be almost right in between Triple-A and Major League Baseball. There are 12 teams, with the most recent champion being the Tokyo Yakult Swallows last season.
Talented Japanese players from NPB are always on the radar for MLB teams. Seiya Suzuki slashed .335/.453/.565 with 28 home runs for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. He has his eyes set on the MLB. One who is staying is Catcher Tomoya Mori, who won the Pacific League MVP for the Saitama Seibu Lions.
There are downsides, however. Not only is the time change difficult but you would have to pay in order to watch NPB. The choice is yours though. You could be seeing the next Shohei Ohtani before anyone else does.
Of course, there are more than just these three leagues. You cannot forget about the Australian Baseball League, an up-and-comer, in the sports world. MLB Network and other platforms occasionally show Caribbean Teams playing each other as well, which are super popular, but more prevalent during the Winter.
Other leagues are also difficult due to time change as well as costing a lot. Just know that there are amazing teams and talent all across the world that are foreign to us here in the states. To sum it all up, it isn’t all about MLB.