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Coach Kim Kyung-moon Leads Doosan To First Place

Posted June. 28, 2004 22:39,   


“The last card always turns out to be a ‘made’ one.”

When playing cards, there are times when the last card is the long awaited card and your hand becomes the highest. Then that day is “jackpot” day. Coach Kim Kyung-moon of Doosan expressed his team’s recent hot streak by saying, “The hidden card always works.” In other words, he thinks his team is lucky.

In reality, however, Doosan’s first place standing this season cannot be attributed to luck alone. As of June 28, Doosan has 38 wins, one draw, and 30 losses, and is leading in the standings. How can a team, that before the season all the experts did not hesitate to point out as the candidate for last place, have such good numbers? At the center of the team’s great record is Doosan’s new coach, Kim.

--No squeeze bunts

During this season’s 70 games, Kim has not sent the sign for a squeeze bunt one single time. “There were many chances but strangely, he did not like them. Don’t you think the fans want to see the batter hit? Players will also gain more confidence when they hit, rather than forcefully squeezing in a run.”

Put differently, he orders aggressive baseball, the type than fans desire. When asked the question, “Suppose, you are tied 0-0 at the bottom of the ninth, with one out, and the runner on third, will you ask for a game winning squeeze bunt?” Kim firmly answered, “No, I don’t want to play that type of baseball.” A game winning squeeze bunt in the bottom of the ninth is, in reality, the most ‘un-thrilling’ play.

--No draws

Doosan only has a single draw this year. Kim hates draws. “I think drawing a game is worse than losing. When you go extra innings the pitchers are overworked and the fielders are also tired, affecting the next game, so you end up losing whether you win or lose. That is why I don’t order plays to draw the game.”

--Trusting his players

On June 24, playing against SK, Doosan was behind 1-2 in the ninth and earned a chance with runners on first and second and no outs. The batter in the box was the key batter Hong Seung-heun. Ten out of ten, it is a situation for a sacrifice bunt. Nevertheless, Kim chose to be aggressive and gave the hitter the green light. Why? “Hong is the player with the highest number of RBIs on our team. Who else can you trust if you don’t trust him?” Hong struck out, but the next batter produced a hit and Doosan came from behind to win 5-2.

--Not attached to names

During the season, many newcomers became starters for the Doosan lineup. Sohn Shi-hyun, Kang Bong-kyu, Yoo Jae-woong, and Lee Seung-joon just to name a few. These are players that Kim personally picked out during last year’s rigorous finish and winter training. He selected nameless, potential players as starters and they are all playing their share of baseball.

On June 27 against Hanwha, Lee Seung-joon, who is strong against lefties, was the fifth batter. Lee responded to Kim’s expectations with a game winning solo homerun.

This year’s Doosan baseball is just like this. The coach trusts the players and in turn, the players pay back.

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com