A spike in positive COVID-19 tests at MLB training facilities has further delayed negotiations on beginning the 2020 season. Time is running out on the commissioner’s last-ditch option of ordering a 50-game season. This leaves baseball fans with a dilemma about what sports to watch when their everyday summertime option of MLB is not available. I will break down my top five options below. Note: These options are based on what is available to viewers in Canada.
1. UFC (mixed martial arts)
After some cancellations due to lockdowns in the United States, UFC has organized fights in Florida and at its TV studio location in Las Vegas. International fights will be held at Yas Island, United Arab Emirates. The summer season is now in full swing, so there’s no time like the present to become a fight fan.
Pros: Mixed-martial arts is a fast-paced combat sport, and UFC is the most popular MMA promotion.
Cons: UFC president Dana White is a grade-A jerk who underpays fighters. Noted dirtbag Joe Rogan also calls the high-profile events that include a pay-per-view main card. I feel slimy about enjoying something they are associated with. Unfortunately, this is familiar to me as a Cubs fan thanks to the Trump-supporting Ricketts family and wifebeating shortstop Addison Russell.
How to Watch: TSN carries the ESPN coverage of UFC prelims and Fight Night main cards in Canada. You will need to choose between various cable and streaming options in order to watch PPV cards. I personally use PlayStation Network to stream PPVs.
Easing of lockdown restrictions in Las Vegas means that boxing is also back on the air. Top Rank Boxing returned to action earlier this month and has been airing at least two cards per week on ESPN.
Pros: You can watch several times per week, and the broadcast crew is much more tolerable to listen to than ESPN’s baseball broadcasters.
Cons: Boxing is not as multi-faceted as MMA.
How to Watch: TSN carries the ESPN broadcasts of Top Rank Boxing.
3. KBO Baseball
In May, ESPN struck a deal with the Korea Baseball Organization to provide English-language broadcasts of South Korea’s most popular sports league. After some delays, TSN is now carrying these broadcasts in Canada. This is the only major network option for professional baseball.
Pros: It’s professional baseball!
Cons: The ESPN broadcast crew can’t be bothered to actually call the games. In addition, the aforementioned wifebeater Russell recently agreed to a deal with the Kiwoom Heroes (you can’t make this stuff up).
Germany’s Bundesliga was the first major European soccer league to return to action following COVID-19 lockdowns. The country has been credited as being fairly successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19, unlike the United States.
Pros: Bundesliga is one of the world’s top soccer leagues and enjoys global popularity among footie fans.
Cons: The games air at 5:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. on Saturdays, which is not exactly the time most people are inclined to sit down and watch sports. If, like me, your TV subscriptions are streaming only, you’re SOL if you want to record games.
How to Watch: Bundesliga games are carried on Rogers SportsNet in Canada.
5. Australian National Rugby League
Pros: Rugby is a bruising contact sport similar to North American Football. However, it is faster-paced than the NFL and, in my opinion, more enjoyable to watch.
Cons: The league is based in Australia, so the games are also airing at 5:30 a.m. (see above).