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“ Samsung, Kia, SK…and then?”

Posted March. 30, 2005 23:20,   


Once again, Samsung has proven to be a “public enemy” in Korean League Baseball.

With the 2005 Korean baseball season only two days away, three major baseball commentators of the three broadcasting companies predicted the three first-place teams and five middle-class teams for this season.

Needless to say, Samsung, Kia and SK were the three strong teams. Park Noh-joon, a SBS commentator, even went further by saying that someone must take responsibility, if any of the three teams didn’t reach the quarterfinals.

Even among the three well-performing teams, Samsung is the strongest candidate for the championship.

Ha Il-seong, a KBS baseball commentator, said that although SK may get an advantage from its wide range of players in the regular season, Samsung is most likely to win a short series match up in the post season, followed by Kia and SK.

MBC baseball commentator Heo Gu-yeon was the only commentator who picked Samsung and Kia as most likely winners of the season, but he actually leaned more towards Samsung.

The teams’ current coaches also agreed that Samsung has best coaching staffs. Kim In-sik, a coach of Hanhwa, Kim Jae-bak, a coach of Hyundai, Kim Kyeong-moon, a coach of Doosan and Cho Beom-hyeon, a coach of SK, put Samsung on the top.

Although Yang Sang-moon, a coach of Lotte, cited a soccer example by saying that even Real Madrid doesn’t always win, he indirectly ranked Samsung first.

Lee Soon-cheol (LG) was the only coach who said that Kia was the best team heading into the season.

Regarding seasonal predictions, Sun Dong-yeol and Yoo Nam-ho, the coaches of Samsung and Kia, only stated that all the teams were likely winners.

Accordingly, the most significant thing will be which team comes in fourth place and earns the last berth in the post season.

Commentator Ha Il-seong selected Hyundai as his sole candidate, while Park Noh-joon and Heo Gu-yeon expected that Hyundai, Lotte and LG would all compete bitterly for the slot.

Ha stated that despite holes in the lineup and in the pitching staff, which are without Sim Jeong-soo, Park Jin-man and Cheong Seong-hoon (batters) and Shin Cheol-in, Lee Sang-yeol and Ma Il-yeong (pitchers), Hyundai knows how to play the game well and has exceptional experience.

Heo said, “Lotte and LG have earned higher preseason rankings with their pitching and team work, respectively.”

Though Doosan and Hanhwa were relatively ranked low, they were evaluated as dark horses that could emerge at any time.

Park predicted that Doosan’s full five-man pitching rotation and Hanhwa’s powerful lineup would give baseball fans a more interesting season, unlike the past in which there was a 22-game gap between the front-runner, Hyundai, and the last team, Lotte.

Hwan Soo Zang zangpabo@donga.com