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Untouchable BK

Posted July. 14, 2002 22:24,   


It would be fair to name him a man of horror.

Kim Byung-Hyun (23, Arizona Diamondbacks), the Korean Nuclear Submarine, assumed the mound in the 9th bottom in July 14, 2002. It was an away for him and against the LA Dodgers. His team was leading 7-5. Kim successfully ended the game, contributing to the three consecutive wins of his team. Due to Kim’s perfect pitching, Diamondbacks recorded 54th wins (34 losses), while the Dodgers got 54 wins and 37 losses. As a result, Diamondbacks’ standing topped the National League West, pushing the Dodgers below by 0.5 game. By this game, Kim has earned 25 saves. At this pace, Kim could possibly record 45-50 saves this season.

Kim is now the acknowledged “winning-keeper” of Arizona. He has terrified big sluggers. What’s the secret behind it?

Kim’s fast ball comes on top, which is faster than a nuclear missile. Even though Kim is an underhand, he throws 153 km at best. Translating into regular pitchers, it is equivalent to 160 km. Not easy at all even for sluggers. More unique for an underhand pitcher, Kim’s various curve balls. Curve balls also record between 130 km to 140 km, leading to lots of strikeouts. Also in the 14th game, his 150 km fast balls and 142 km sinkers cooked up the hitters. He has struck out 67 hitters in the 53 innings at 44 games this season,

Next comes Kim’s strong physical fitness. Kim does not feel tired even after pitching in 5 straight games, at least one inning per game. This asset of Kim has contributed most to marking him as untouchable pitcher.

Third is Kim’s calmness and persistence. Kim sometimes sleeps in the middle of a game with a blanket over him. Even in big games, he kills time with a computer game player. In today’s game too, Kim was sleeping, which was caught on Fox TV. But once he stands on the mound, he aggressively throws balls. He never caves in or gives up. His calmness is a way he uses to concentrate on games.

Last year, he allowed homers to Yankees players in the 4th and 5th game of the World Series. But he did not give up. In this year’s All-Star game, he also gave 3 hits and 2 points during one third of an inning. But it did not affect him at all. He just keeps adding saves. Behind all of these lies his calmness and persistence.

Of course, Randy Johnson and Curt Shilling should be counted in. They have been pitching well, giving more opportunities to Kim.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com