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Most prestigious baseball clubs in Korea, Japan fall from grace

Most prestigious baseball clubs in Korea, Japan fall from grace

Posted June. 08, 2017 07:13,   

Updated June. 08, 2017 07:19


The Samsung Lions and the Yomiuri Giants -- once one of the most prestigious professional baseball teams in South Korea and Japan, respectively -- are in a free fall from grace.

Samsung swept the season championship and the Korean Series title for four consecutive years from 2011. It plummeted to the ninth of 10 teams in the Korean professional baseball league ranking last year, before falling further to the bottom this year. With 19 wins, 35 losses and two ties, Samsung is the only team whose winning rate is below 0.4. It is behind the league-leading Kia Tigers by 16 games.

In Japan, the Yomiuri Giants, one of most popular baseball clubs with 22 Japan Series titles, is disgraced this season. The team lost its 11th straight game, matching a franchise record, in an 8-5 interleague defeat to the Seibu Lions on Tuesday. The Giants equaled the mark set on Sept.11, 1975 under then-manager Shigeo Nagashima. The Giants's Central League ranking fell to the fifth among six teams. If the team loses its Wednesday match as well, it will have to endure the humiliation of setting a new franchise record for a losing streak. Observers attribute the Giant's poor performance to their loss of self-confidence due to a collapse in the offense-defense balance.

The Samsung Lions is showing signs of a rebound by winning four games and losing just one for the first six days of June, whereas the Yomiuri Giants sees no light at the end of the tunnel. If the trend continues, the Giants will soon sink to the bottom of the league. Since its founding in 1934, the Giants have ranked last just once -- in 1975. Korean baseballs fans are familiar to Giants manager Yoshinobu Takahashi, as he competed with Korean slugger Lee Seung-yeop for the team's cleanup batter position in the mid-2000s.

Heon-Jae Lee uni@donga.com