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Great Clips of the Week: Taiwan's Rakuten Monkeys the undisputed kings of baseball

By Sean Walker, KSL.com | Posted - Apr. 20, 2020 at 11:22 a.m.



MEETING AT THE MOUND — We’d like to apologize, as this hasn’t been much of a space for live sports over the past few weeks.

The situation surrounding the novel coronavirus, and government’s attempts to halt the spread of the pandemic, has brought sports to a standstill. We’ve tried to fill the void with highlights from an NBA 2K video game tournament, ESPN’s semi-successful attempt to broadcast a national H-O-R-S-E competition (won by Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley, no less), and even with Tik Tok videos.

Yes, we’ve resorted to Tik Tok. Many in our offices have even joined the Gen Y-favored social medium.

Send help.

But we have good news — this week brings back real live sports.

Or we could go back to Tik Tok, if you’d prefer.

As always, click the video above for more Great Clips of the Week.

Monkeys on the mound

The Chinese Professional Baseball League based on the island of Taiwan (or Chinese Taipei, as they are referred by the International Olympic Committee) has returned behind closed doors, playing in front of crowds of cardboard cutouts and robots.

The league has been able to function without fans based on positive results from the initial wave of infection on the island of 23 million. Only 420 cases have been confirmed, with just six deaths, according to the COVID-19 tracker at Johns Hopkins University.

So when the Rakuten Monkeys faced the Fubon Guardians on Sunday, it was business as usual.

Well, at least until the bottom of the fourth inning.

That’s when Guardians pitcher Henry Sosa, the 34-year-old right-hander who made 10 starts for the Astros in 2011, kept throwing tight against Monkeys infielder Kuo Yen-Wen.

Kuo didn’t appreciate the gesture, and as tempers flared, something rare happened: he charged the mound, and both dugouts emptied before cooler heads prevailed.

"For our international viewers, you need to understand that this never really happens in the CPBL," said the broadcast team at Eleven Sports, which is streaming each game online and on Twitter. "It’s usually a very conservative league. They don’t even argue balls and strikes or outs very often.

"For this to happen right now, can I say it’s quite exciting?"

For those still craving live sports, here are a few more examples of events that have resumed: domestic soccer leagues in Turkmenistan, as well as pro leagues in Belarus, Tajikistan, Taiwan and Nicaragua; NASCAR’s virtual iRacing series in the United States; and the eMLS FIFA 20 tournament.

Last week's Great Clips:

Walkoff Monkeys

That wasn’t the only reason Rakuten Monkeys fans were going wild this weekend. The other came when the Monkeys gave baseball its first walkoff home run of the 2020 season.

The historic blast was struck by Rakuten designated hitter Chu Yu-Hsien, and it gave the Monkeys a 9-8 win over the Uni Lions after the required 12 innings of play.

And the crowd (of robots) went wild.

Chicago’s No. 1 (P)resident

We leave you with this: If you haven’t watched the first two episodes of ESPN’s new 10-part documentary "The Last Dance" about the career of NBA legend Michael Jordan, do it now. It’s on ESPN for domestic viewers and Netflix for those outside the United States.

If nothing else, it’s worth it to know that we should all live our best life — like former U.S. President Barack Obama, whom the chyron operator referred to simply as a "former Chicago resident."

Great Clips, out.

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