Chinese Professional Baseball League Resumes Games With Mannequin Fans

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Chinese Professional Baseball League restarted its season Sunday, and one team employed a creative program to combat the empty seats at Taiwan’s Taoyuan Baseball Stadium.

The Rakuten Monkeys unveiled a slate of robot mannequins and cardboard cutouts for their matchup against the CTBC Brothers, and some of the robot fans even banged drums in the stands, per the American Foreign Press. Rakuten's home game was reportedly canceled due to rain, but the CPBL will continue to play through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The CPBL is the lone professional baseball league currently playing amid the coronavirus outbreak. MLB suspended all operations on March 12, and it has not set a date for a potential return to play. 

Perhaps Rob Manfred and the league office could follow the CPBL's model if baseball returns in the United States in 2020. MLB is currently exploring a plan to hold all games in Arizona, and the season could begin as early as June, per ESPN's Jeff Passan. Fans are unlikely to be at the potential games, with only players, coaches and "essential personnel," allowed inside stadium gates.