Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Korea

Hey look, there’s baseball!

Welcome to the KBO:

Those craving live baseball can soon get a fix.

ESPN announced Monday an agreement with Eclat Media Group to televise six live Korean Baseball Organization games per week. KBO Opening Day [was] Tuesday and ESPN [began] its telecasts then, with a midnight game between the NC Dinos and Samsung Lions.

Former Astros outfielder Preston Tucker is among the handful of American-born players set to start his season. Tucker’s Kia Tigers will play at 4:30 a.m. Friday against the Samsung Lions on ESPN. KBO games will not have fans.

ESPN’s deal includes the KBO postseason and best-of-seven championship series. ESPN’s familiar crew of broadcasters and analysts — Jon Sciambi, Karl Ravech, Eduardo Perez, Jessica Mendoza and Kyle Peterson — will call the games remotely from their home offices.

[…]

In an interview last month, Tucker detailed the many steps taken by the KBO to get its season back. Tucker must take his temperature in the morning, at night and before he enters the ballpark. Any player or staff member with an elevated temperature is not allowed to enter the facility.

The KBO issued new regulations and guidelines that included a ban on spitting and cautioned against high-fiving or handshakes. Tucker said players have been advised not to go to malls or movie theaters, but are permitted to go out to dinner or take walks around their home city.

“If you’re on the field, they’ve checked you out 100 percent that you’re at least not sick and not running a fever,” Tucker said. “If you make it into the stadium, they’ve pretty much cleared you if you’re healthy.”

FanGraphs has the first week’s schedule and a bunch of links to acquaint yourself with the league. The times are not great for an American audience, but that’s why God gave us DVRs. You’ll want to check out My KBO and its Twitter feed for English-language stats, history, highlights and more. The one thing my wife and I didn’t get to do that I wanted to do when we were in Seoul about 20 years ago was see a baseball game there. (We did get to see a game in Tokyo on that same trip, which was a phenomenal experience.) It’s been a wish list item for me for awhile now. I’ll probably tune into some games on ESPN, which among other things will help me see how weird this experience will be without a live crowd, since that will probably be what we get when one of the crazy plans being floated gets adopted.

I should note that the KBO is not the only game going on – the Chinese Professional Baseball League, from Taiwan, is also playing games. There are no English language broadcasts of the CPBL that I am aware of, but they will soon have live fans at the games. I’m glad for them, and also super jealous. I’m so ready for baseball here as well.

The difference a week makes

Imposing a stay-at-home order sooner rather than later ha a profound effect on how many people come down with coronavirus.

The person-to-person spread of the coronavirus in the Houston region would peak in two weeks and burn out by mid-May if the stay-at-home order invoked Tuesday is continued until then, according to modeling by local scientists.

The modeling, which informed Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s order, considered the effect on the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, if she’d taken the stringent intervention immediately or waited a week or two weeks to act. Spread would increase exponentially had she waited, it found.

“From our modeling, it was clear that waiting is not a good thing,” said Eric Boerwinkle, dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health, who conducted the study with a biostatistician at that Houston institution. “The numbers are sobering, but the message is clear: early intervention is better than late intervention and more stringent intervention is better than less stringent.”

UTHealth released the modeling data as the city of Houston began gearing up — scouting sites that easily can be converted into medical centers, looking for hotel rooms for COVID-19 patients who cannot isolate at home or in a hospital — for what’s expected to be the next, worse phase of the pandemic: the exponential increase in disease numbers.

[…]

The UTHealth modeling, shared with city and county officials Monday, provided data backing the warnings. It found that intervening immediately would limit the number of cases in the region to a peak at about 150 a day around April 7 and stop the spread around May 12. In that time, the cumulative total of cases would reach nearly 3,500, it found.

Cases would peak at more than 1,000 a day on April 15 if Hidalgo had waited a week and more than 6,600 a day on April 22 if she’d waited two weeks. Transmission would last until May 29 under the first scenario and June 16 under the second.

All three of the scenarios are based on the premise the restrictions would continue until mid-May. Hidalgo’s order is scheduled to expire April 3.

This is what “exponential growth” means. The basic idea is that if everyone is out there living their normal lives, anyone who has coronavirus – remember, it takes about a week for people to become symptomatic, so you can be walking around for quite some time not knowing you have it, infecting people wherever you go – will be spreading the disease to a larger number of people, who will then do the same thing, than if everyone were at home where they will encounter far fewer people. This is one of the reasons why South Korea was as successful as it was at stopping the spread in that country – they jumped on this kind of action right away. (They also did a crapload of testing and were able to aggressively track people’s movements, but never mind that for now.) For that matter, look at the difference between Kentucky and Tennessee. Which outcome would you prefer?

Point is, putting the stay-at-home restrictions in place now, or even later, after the disease has had time to spread even if the known number of infections is still low, would mean we’ve given it an unfettered head start. That’s the scenario we need to avoid, and it’s the reason why the death wish cultists aren’t just wrong, they’re deeply dangerous. Listen to the experts. The fondest hope we have right now is that in a few weeks, when we can think about beginning to go back to normal, we can say it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. We have a chance for that now.

UPDATE: Read this. Look at the chart. Consider this excerpt: “It means that on average, every infected person infects three other people, not 2.5 other people—which makes the spread of the virus much wider and faster. Without any control measures, for example, it means that after ten generations a single person will be responsible for 80,000 infections instead of 10,000 infections.” That’s what we’re talking about here.

How do you say “J’accuse!” in Korean?

Here we go again with the Korea kerfuffle.

CM Helena Brown

City Councilwoman Helena Brown on Tuesday accused Mayor Annise Parker of sabotaging her recent taxpayer-funded trip to Asia to promote direct air service between Seoul and Houston.

Brown joined Houston Airport Director Mario Diaz in visits to Beijing and Taipei early this month but did not meet with Korean airline officials. The itinerary originally included meetings in Seoul, but those were canceled shortly before the trip because Korean airline executives would not be available, according to a spokeswoman for the mayor.

According to a statement issued by Brown’s office on Tuesday, “the mayor did everything possible to undermine and sabotage the planned trip. Mayor Parker had no intention to cooperate in any capacity with CM Brown’s efforts to serve the constituents, as Mayor Parker continues to place political expediency above the responsibilities of public office to the great disservice of the Asian community and the Houston community as a whole.”

Parker spokeswoman Janice Evans responded, “Council Member Brown’s trip to Asia was handled the same as any other trip. The mayor’s assistant for international trade and development was assigned to help and provide support. The mayor even offered to help the council member in rescheduling the trip once Asiana Airlines sent notice it would be unable to accommodate a meeting.”

Emails obtained by the Chronicle indicate that members of the mayor’s administration provided Brown with an itinerary, assisted her with a visa application, selected and wrapped gifts to present to Asian dignitaries, made travel arrangements and prepared a briefing binder. The mayor also personally approved Brown’s travel authorization that estimated more than $16,000 for expenses.

Here’s the full statement from CM Brown. I have not seen any further response from the Mayor to this, nor have I seen any statement from others singled out by CM Brown, namely Andy Icken and Mario Diaz, so you’ll have to judge the allegations by your own evaluation of Brown’s veracity and reliability. (Turns out Mayor Parker is out of town, so well played on the timing.) One could attempt to be charitable to all involved and chalk this up as a series of miscommunications, but then one would have to note the irony of CM Brown, who dodges meetings with Mayor Parker and whose preferred means of expression is the written statement, complaining about other people not adequately communicating with her.

More on CM Brown’s trip to Korea

Hair Balls recently noted that CM Helena Brown recently submitted an expense report for nearly $11,000 for a plane ticket to Korea; they raised issues about her soliciting donations outside the allowed fundraising period to cover that expense. The Chron picks up the story.

CM Helena Brown

A statement released by Brown’s office Tuesday states that her adviser William Park – who is not a paid member of her staff – sent an email to Korean community leaders saying that if they wanted to sponsor a businessman on the trip they could do so via Brown’s office.

“That statement was sent in error. While CM (council member) Brown could be the vehicle by which private financial assistance of non-city employees could be handled, CM Brown understood full well that this type of situation might be misconstrued as a campaign contribution during the “black-out” period and therefore instructed all potential contributors who communicated to her to deal privately with potential delegation participants instead,” the statement reads.

Brown was in Asia from June 30 through July 7 seeking to increase the number of direct flights from Asia to Houston, according to the statement.

Brown’s statement says she was invited on the trip by Houston Airport System Director Mario Diaz, but an email from a spokeswoman for Mayor Annise Parker states that Brown asked to accompany Diaz, who visited Asia in a bid to lay the groundwork for more nonstop flights from Asia to Houston.

Establishing a direct flight from Houston to Incheon is “one of her many priorities of public office,” according to the statement.

[…]

According to records obtained by the Houston Chronicle, Brown charged $10,883.57 to a city purchasing card for flights to Tokyo, Taipei, Beijing and Seoul. The money comes from her council office budget. The charges do not include a return trip fare to Houston, though Brown still can file for reimbursements. It is not apparent from the report whether she covered the expenses of any other travelers.

Diaz was apparently originally scheduled to go to Korea as well, but that wound up getting canceled. Brown went on her own and met with officials there. One can only imagine how those conversations went.

This all raises as many questions as it answers. I guess I’m just stunned that Brown has “priorities of public office” that include spending money on anything. I don’t know how one would square all her anti-government anti-spending rhetoric that we’ve been subjected to with this revelation, but then I think all of that rhetoric is so much palaver. I’m glad it’s not my job to try to make it all tie together. What will the people who support her and actually buy into that baloney think of this?