While US Major League baseball can only dream about starting the 2020 season, it’s Opening Day on the other side of the world…in Taiwan.
The defending champions, the Rakuten Monkeys play the Fubon Guardians in what baseball fans worldwide hope signals a return of a number of leagues across the globe.
Tonight’s game, which starts at 7pm AEST, will be played without fans. Well, at least fans who can move around and order beer.
— CPBL STATS (@GOCPBL) April 7, 2020
This is the 31st season of what is four-team (soon to be five) league based entirely in Chinese Taipei. Baseball was brought to the island by the Japanese and boomed in popularity during the 1970’s and 1980’s when Taiwan’s Little League team regularly dominated the Americans.
The majority of players are homegrown, though each team is allowed four foreigners – usually from the Japanese or American minor leagues, with the occasional big leaguer like Manny Ramirez showing up.
Like most Asian baseball leagues, the clubs are owned and named after businesses. Teams competing in 2020 are:
Chinatrust Brothers (Brothers or Brothers Elephants): Formerly named Brother Elephants after the Brother hotel group that owned them. When Chinatrust took over, they renamed the team ‘Brothers’ and kept the well-known Elephant name and branding. Arguably the most popular team in the league, they’ve won seven titles and aren’t afraid to spend money on key players.
– Windmill ✅
– Fancy footwork ✅
– Sidearm eephus pitch ✅ pic.twitter.com/tyYQnaQI7p
— CPBL STATS (@GOCPBL) February 26, 2020
Fubon Guardians: Formerly nicknamed Bears, Bulls and Rhinos, the team – which has won three championships – was renamed the Guardians when the Fubon Financial Holding Company bought them in 2016. Former MLB superstar Manny Ramirez played for the franchise in 2013 when they were the Rhinos.
Rakuten Monkeys: Known as the Lamigo Monkeys up until December of 2019, when Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten added their name as well as the colours of their Japanese professional team the Rakuten Golden Eagles. They are the defending champions and have won six overall titles.
Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions (Uni Lions): The league’s most successful team with nine titles. Owned by Uni-President, a conglomerate whose holdings in Chinese Taipei include, among other things, 7-Eleven.
*Wei Chuan Dragons: Next season marks the return of the Dragons, who won four championships between 1990 and 1999 before disbanding for a number of financial reasons. Owned by the Wei Chuan food corporation.
Rules and Playing Style
-The CPBL uses the Designated Hitter rule.
-Games are declared a draw if tied after 12 innings.
-The CPBL is a hitter-friendly league with teams often putting up 10-run scores. This is due primarily to a lack of top-tier pitchers, a smaller strike zone and hitter/pitcher familiarity since there are only four teams.
-Although there will be no fans at these games initially, normal CPBL crowds are much like Japanese baseball crowds, with organised chanting, cheerleaders and thundersticks.
Today’s Scheduled Games (Sunday, 7pm AEST)
Brothers Elephants at Uni Lions
$1.53 Brothers Elephants
$2.37 Uni Lions
$1.57 Uni Lions +1.5
$2.25 Brothers Elephants -1.5
$1.72 Under 9.5 runs
$2.00 Over 9.5 runs
Rakuten Monkeys at Fubon Guardians
$1.57 Rakuten Monkeys
$2.25 Fubon Guardians
$1.66 Fubon Guardians +1.5
$2.10 Rakuten Monkeys -1.5
$1.80 Under 11.5 runs
$1.90 Over 11.5 runs