Go to contents

A Surprising Pro Baseball Season to Date

Posted July. 15, 2004 22:13,   


Pro baseball is entering a dormant period of all-star games for five days starting from Thursday. Unexpected results and ups and downs were the hot topics surrounding the first half of the season. Although Hyundai, last year’s championship team, barely made the top, it is sharing its lead with Doosan, who surprised everybody with its outstanding performance. Let’s start with the stories of ten stars who have been in the news frequently.

--Kim Kyung-moon vs. Yang Sang-moon

There is no presumption in history. Still, I cannot help but think what would have happened if coach Kim Kyung-moon accepted Lotte coach Yang Sang-moon’s offer of the chief coach position. In all likelihood, the kind surprise Doosan has made this year may not have happened.

Under the flag of harmony among members and endurance, Coach Kim, whose name was new to us, applied his theory of the so-called “baseball of management” and surprised us with its successful results.

On the other hand, Coach Yang successfully created a baseball boom in Busan, leading a short-lived rise, but was not able to escape the danger of being last on the list for four consecutive years.

LG Coach Lee Soon-chul, another new commander in the control tower, received a midterm grade of “ B.” Samsung chief coach Sun Dong-ryol received an “A”.

Park Kyung-wan vs. Broomba

Park Kyung-wan of Hyundai started the season well and ended well, while Broomba, a mercenary soldier of Hyundai who once was a candidate for seven batting crowns, displayed his superhuman power.

Park Kyung-wan hit homeruns in the four consecutive opening games, a first in league history. He also hit 13 homeruns in April, an all-time record for homeruns in one single month. He slowed down in May and June. Still, he hit five homeruns in July to record a tie with Broomba. He won back the best position in deep hits.

--Park Myung-hwan vs Chung Min-tae

There was a generation change of ace players in Korea. Hyundai Chung Min-tae, the “king of annual salary,” with his yearly salary of 740 million won, was the best both in the number of wins and in winning percentage after he set a record of 18 consecutive victories last year. However, he has suffered from a slump and misfortune which brought him the dishonor of the league’s losingest pitcher (four wins and nine defeats).

On the other hand, Park Myung-hwan, a pitcher with five wins and ten defeats last year, made a surprising transformation. His fast ball that reaches 155 kilometers per hour at its best, and his slider that sometimes reaches 140 kilometers per hour are seen as superior to Sun Dong-ryol’s pitches in his best days at Haetae.

--Yang Jun-hyuk vs Shim Jung-soo

Nobody made an argument against the assumption that after the “Lion King” Lee Seung-yup left, Shim Jung-soo, the “all-time second,” would take his position to become the best.

There was seen a surprising result, however. Samsung Yang Jun-hyuk (39), who has been aging backwards, is the hero. He has put his name on the top list in all categories, including the best batting average and third best in homeruns, and has contributed to the team even more than Park Kyung-wan and Broomba, the sluggers. On the other hand, Shim Jung-soo has suffered from the side-effects of his lasek eye operation and frequent injuries.

--Seo Seung-hwa vs Lee Sang-hoon

LG player Seo Seung-hwa is in the highlights. Known for his pushing incident with Lee Seung-yup last year, he became a star again this year for his base stealing in the first half of the season.

Lee Sang-hoon, who was traded from LG to SK due to the “Guitar Scandal,” announced his sudden retirement, citing his poor performance in a game on June 2. His fans could not close their open mouths in shock to see him throw away 360 million won, the unpaid amount of his annual salary, like an old shoe.

Hwan Soo Zang zangpabo@donga.com