Last night, I did something I had not done in over a month. I set an alarm. Today, I awoke before 6 am, long before the sunrise here in Johnson City, Tennessee. I wanted to be fully caffeinated and in mid-morning form before a 6:30 am Eastern time first pitch between the Uni Lions and the visiting Rakuten Monkeys at Tanain stadium in Tainan City, Tawain. It sounds a little crazy, but I had heard alot of the buzz of the CPBL's English language broadcasts and am, frankly, starved for live baseball.
The league has expanded their English broadcast schedule, and I decided to give it a go and become a Rakuten Monkeys fan. I mean, let's be real. Why wouldn't I cheer on a baseball team called the Monkeys? I was delighted to learn that the Monkeys are the CPBL's version of the 90's Yankees, dominating the league over the last 8 years. That was perhaps never more evident than today, as the Monkeys defeated the Uni Lions by a score of 14-4.
The Eleven Sports broadcast was well done and easily accessible via their Twitter. The visuals were very professional, and I thoroughly enjoyed the commentary of Rod Chen and Keith Chiang. I especially appreciated Keith's expert analysis and the duo's conversations about Tawianese food and culture. They did a superb job of relating the CPBL game to that of Major League Baseball in the States.
The CPBL is currently playing games with no fans in the stands, but you wouldn't know it from the exuberant cheerleaders, colorful mascots, and upbeat music. To me, it was reminiscent of the US minor league experience. That was my initial impression. It was fun! It was a different cultural affair than American baseball, but that is in no way negative. It was still baseball. It was good baseball, and again, it was FUN baseball.
I am planning on making these early mornings a part of my quarantine regimen. The CPBL understands that they are the only league offering live professional baseball in the world, and they are doing what they can to reach as much of a global audience as possible. Kudos to the league, Eleven Sports, and everyone involved in bringing the greatest game in the world to us all!
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @baseballsmymuse to join the conversation as I follow my new favorite ball club, the Rakuten Monkeys!