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"Also Invited" to the ML `Autumn Festival`

Posted September. 09, 2003 21:12,   


`Who will be the ultimate winner`

One hundred and sixty two games played per team, the regular season of Major League ends on the 29th, while evoking interest among fans with `wild card` melee.

Wild card` is the ticket to the playoffs to one of the 2nd ranked team in both American and National leagues, (Western, Central, Eastern) that marks the highest winning percentage. Korean Major Leaguers will also depend on this wild card to advance to the post season.

The first team to concern about is Boston Redsox with Kim Byeong-hyeon (24). Boston was defeated by New York Yankees in the American Championship Series in 1999 and failed to advance to the playoffs 3 consecutive years thereafter. Now the team has gathered the finest pitchers, making the hardest efforts to take part in the `Autumn Festival`.

Boston (83–60) marks 2nd in the Eastern division of the America League, 3 and a half games behind the Yankees (86-56) at present. (September 9th) There is still chance to catch up with the Yankees and take the 1st place since 19 games are left. If this becomes difficult, the team has to go for the wild card ticket.

The wild card ranking until the 9th, Boston is marked in the 1st and Seattle (82-61) with the Japanese batter Ichiro is running after Boston closely, behind by only 1 game.

Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals are behind Boston by 7 and 9 1/2 games respectively, practically falling off in the competition.

The ticket competition will be between Boson and Seattle. If Boston wins in the wild card race, Kim Byeong-hyeon will be advancing to the post season for the 2nd time after winning the World Series in 2001, which means he is also a very lucky player since no other Korean ever participated in the playoffs.

The wild card competition in the National League is becoming the fiercest battlefield ever. Florida Marlines and Philadelphia are both marking 1st place with 79 wins and 65 losses. LA Dodgers, Chicago Cubs with Choi Hee-seop, Huston Astros, and Saint Louis Cardinals are running after the 2 teams. They are all behind by less than 5 games, thus nobody knows when the rank may change.

Choi Hee-seop returned to the extended entrée in September, thus is unable to participate in the playoffs since he is not included in the major league entrée dated up to August 31st. There is exception, though, and that is when there is an injured player in the team. However, the chances are low since Choi isn`t being appointed as designated hitter regularly.

Atlanta Braves with Bong Jung-geun virtually confirmed the 1st rank in the Eastern division of National League. Bong has the qualification to take part in the playoffs since he returned to Big League on August 28th, but reliever competition within the team is too intense, and the post season this year is expected to become `party for others` for the Koreans.

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com