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Is Samsung the Most Prestigious “Brand-name” Team?

Posted November. 23, 2004 23:18,   


16,660,000,000 won.

This is the amount of money Samsung has spent to sign three free agents this year. This is an enormous amount that exceeds the one-year budget for a professional baseball team.

Samsung signed Kim Han-soo with a 2.8 billion won contract for four years as its key third baseman, and the team announced on November 23 four-year contracts with former Hyundai front man Shin Jung-soo for six billion won total with a down payment of two billion, a total yearly salary of three billion, and an option for one billion won) and with Park Jin-man for 3.9 billion won total with a down payment of 1.8 billion, a total yearly salary of 17 billion, and an option for 4.0 billion.

The contract with Shim is the biggest ever in baseball history, and his average yearly salary of 750 million won exceeds Hyundai Chung Min-tae’s 740 million yearly. Samsung will spend 16.66 billion won overall, including compensation money to the players’ old teams where they used to play, which is 450 percent of their previous yearly salary.

By bringing in free agents Shim and Park, the Samsung line-up is almost all star-studded.

Until November 23 at the present, the total yearly salary of the team’s nine key players is a total of 2.705 billion won (3 billion won per person). This is the similar amount to the total amount of the best salaries for each position of all the seven baseball teams except Samsung, totaling 2.85 billion won.

The making of the most prestigious “brand-name” team of all the baseball teams by Samsung reminds us of the New York Yankees. The Yankees team owner George Steinbrenner has been monopolizing superstars while spending tons of money on them.

Jason Giambi in 2002, Hideki Matsui in 2003, and Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield this year now are the members of their “All-star Dream Team.” The total yearly salary of the players is 183,330,000 dollars, No.1 among thirty major league members.

Their 100-year-rival Boston criticized this by calling Yankees the “Evil Empire”- the term derived from former U.S. president Ronald Reagan calling the U.S.S.R the same. The similar criticism is poured on Samsung.

Samsung’s team leader Kim Jae-ha says, “‘The Evil Empire is the one that I hate to hear the most.” A professional team has to produce good results and has to be popular. The reason we signed them is because of these. Any kind of organization needs a leader. From now own, we, the Samsung Lions, will be the leader of professional baseball.

Meanwhile, on the same day, the homepage of the Korea Baseball Organization (http://www.koreabaseball.or.kr) was filled with worrying remarks on Samsung’s monopoly.

The remarks mostly carried criticism toward Samsung, saying, “Sports without competitors do not mean anything (Park Gyu-jong), Since the day Samsung created a volleyball team, the volleyball world was brought to destruction.”; “In order for the baseball world to revive, there has to be co-existence. But, instead, Samsung chose the way to collective destruction (Park Tae-yong),” and “There should be a salary cap (limited total yearly salary) for professional baseball immediately, starting next year (Kim oon-joong).”

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com