Baseball is back! In South Korea that is…
The Korean Baseball Organization opened their season on Monday, giving fans of the sport an opportunity to see what the return of the game could look like later this summer in the United States.
The game was played without fans, with social distancing, and with umpires wearing masks and gloves. Other than that, it was the same old national pastime that we've loved for over a century.
Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was one of the players watching the return of baseball in South Korea astutely, as he himself is eager to get back on the field.
Last week, Turner sat down to talk with NBC LA about how his life has changed since the cancellation of spring training and the postponement of the MLB season, what he thinks of the various proposals for baseball to begin again, and what he's doing to help feed thousands of students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How is life different since MLB cancelled spring training and postponed the start of the season?
"Everything [is different]. It's tough. I haven't quite figured out how to turn these notifications off on my phone. I get an alarm every day that says who we're [the Dodgers] playing. I think we were supposed to play the [Minnesota] Twins today or yesterday. So I get an alert every day right before the game, and it's just like a little twist of the knife right now."
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What do you miss the most about baseball?
"I miss that every day banter that you have in the clubhouse. Whether its down in the cage, or playing a game of cards, travelling on the plane, going to the team dinners on the road, there's so much stuff you're just missing out on. Just giving a guy a high-five for making a nice play, or driving in a run, or scoring a run, you just miss those little things."
What do you think of the many proposals MLB has been considering to play the season out?
"I think everyone is aware of the first one, where all 30 teams were going to be in Arizona and we were going to be quarantined and everyone had to stay in a hotel or what not. As horrible as that sounds, I was excited, and I would have been all for it. I would have quarantined myself in a hotel for six months to get a baseball season in."
We heard you and your wife have been helping out during the pandemic. Tell us what the Justin Turner Foundation has been doing to help feed students and families during this time.
"The Dream Center, when this whole thing happened, they hit the ground running with a food program. LAUSD shut down all 260 something schools. With school comes a lunch program that a lot of families depend on for their kids, and when the schools got shut down, they were left without those meals. Originally, the Dream Center decided to open a meal program for LAUSD students and their families. They basically turned it into a big drive-thru and Kort [Kourtney Turner] and I got on board through our foundation. We started reaching out to local restaurants to order meals at places like Baby Blues BBQ, TORO Grillhouse, and Pink's Hot Dogs. So many restaurants in the area that are in need; We're trying to supply them business so that they can keep their doors open, as well as send food out to the Dream Center to feed the kids and the families in need. They've served over 5,000 meals already and it's going great."
Turner and his wife Kourtney will help host the 4th annual Walk and Play L.A. event on Saturday, May 16 at 8:30AM PT. Donations for the event will support Children's Hospital Los Angeles.