The South Side meets South Korea

The KBO League is set to scratch our baseball itch and a former White Sox infielder is one of the most prominent American players taking part

Good morning, frents …

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

To celebrate, the best 5s in Chicago sports history …

Bears — George McAfee (Only retired #5 in city)
Bulls — John Paxson  (Really wanted to go Nocioni here)
Cubs — Nomar Garciaparra (Sad but true)
Hawks — Steve Smith (Shoutout to NHL ‘94)
Sox — Ray Durham (Gene Honda voice)

Many teams. One Chicago sports newsletter.

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A nation turns its lonely eyes to … Tyler Saladino?

It’s been a week since we last talked about baseball’s possible resumption plans.

While we haven’t quite reached the idea of isolating the Cubs on Mackinac Island and the Sox down at Oliver Nazarene, we were entertaining rumors from Trevor Plouffe and Phil Hughes on Monday afternoon. What a freaking world.

Luckily, there’s actual baseball being played in the world and not only is it being broadcast on ESPN six days a week, you can also get back into the DFS game on FanDuel and DraftKings too.

Yes, this is apparently the spring we all get super into Korean baseball and Tyler Saladino’s Samsung Lions jersey becomes a must-have fashion item on the South Side.

Again, what a freaking world.

Saladino and his Lions kicked off their season against the NC Dinos just before midnight last night. You might remember him from the White Sox roster between 2015-18 and a walkoff single against the Cubs in 2016 that brought home the immortal J.B. Shuck. Saladino played for the Brewers in 2019 before landing with the KBO this spring. He was listed as the second-most expensive shortstop on FanDuel.

So how’d he do in the opener? Well, I’m honestly not sure. While I miss live sports, I don’t miss them enough to stay up past midnight after an entire day of working, at-home learning and cleaning the kitchen after preparing three meals. (I usually schedule this newsletter before I call it a day so it can reach the people who get up earlier than I do.)

Also, ESPN2 is re-airing the game at 2 PM CT and if we’re lucky, we can all avoid hearing the result and watch it like it’s live while we work this afternoon.

I gotta say, though: I don’t like our chances of making it.

That’s because Baseball Twitter has mobilized to go all-in on the KBO. Over the course of a couple of hours on Monday, I read about the former big league players now coaching in Korea (Matt Williams! Julio Franco! Hee Sop Choi!) and the awesome tradition of bat flipping that makes Tim Anderson’s toss look mundane.

I also read an interview with the Ken Rosenthal of Korean baseball and followed him on Twitter. There’s a good chance we all woke up this morning to 12 different alerts on our phones offering recaps of the game.

I’m willing to give the game a shot, though. I covered the World Baseball Classic final in 2009 between Japan and Korea and it was honestly one of the cooler events I’ve ever worked. Both sides turned out in force at Dodger Stadium and the electric atmosphere was unlike anything I’ve experienced at a baseball game.

That mood won’t be replicated in the KBO as the stands will be empty at first. It’ll be a good test run for the near-certainty we’ll be watching MLB games at empty ballparks for most, if not all of whatever season we’re able to recover.

Now, will my interest in the KBO last to tide me over until MLB comes back?

Or will Korean baseball eventually join my growing pile of discarded lockdown obsessions like Tiger King, jigsaw puzzles and reheated sports classics?

The outcome may somehow rest with Tyler Saladino.

What a freaking world.

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Woo! The NFL announced last night that its official schedule release will go down this Thursday during a three-hour show on NFL Network. Fun starts at 7 CT.

Obviously there are still so many questions about this season, but here’s a reminder on what the schedule makers are working with when it comes to the Bears.

  • Home: Lions, Packers, Vikings, Texans, Colts, Saints, Giants, Buccaneers
  • Road: Lions, Packers, Vikings, Falcons, Panthers, Jaguars, Rams, Titans

My prediction: A Sunday night date with the Packers,  a combination of Thursday/Monday dates with the Vikings, Giants and Texans.

What’s your prediction? Hit me in the comments below or on Twitter @midwayminute. I’ll send something to anyone who nails the nationally-televised games.

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My man Eric Edholm revisited his 2017 NFL draft grades to see how he did. Next beer’s on me for nailing his Trubisky eval. (Yahoo Sports)

Three free agent RBs the Bears should consider signing. (Bears Wire)

Joe Henrickson ranked every No. 1 basketball prospect in the state since 2000, from Anthony Davis to Jereme Richmond. (Sun-Times)

• I’m happy to see the late John Michael Wozniak getting some real love past the “security guard with the funny mullet” Internet chuckles he was getting from most outlets.

• If you get a chance you should read the tributes to Wozniak on his obituary page, most of which have nothing to do with Michael Jordan. (Dignity Memorial)

The story behind The Last Dance’s amazing soundtrack. Jordan’s brand and preferences rarely aligned with a lot of the artists getting play, but I’m glad they made the decision to bring them together. Also, obtaining all the licensing seems like a triumph in itself. (New York Times)

Chicago restaurants want you to skip GrubHub and order directly from them. Good advice. (Block Club Chicago)

RIP Cross Man. Rest easy. You more than earned it. (WGN TV)

• This was even better than MJ meeting Seinfeld.

• Finally, my thoughts are with all the great journalists at the Chicago Tribune as they fight off a movement by Alden Capital to furlough half of the sports and features departments. They deserve better. Chicago deserves better. (Twitter)

That’s it for today. Go have yourself a Tuesday. As always, thank you for being a #frentofthenewsletter!