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Ongoing conflict between Choo Shin-soo and Banister

Posted July. 24, 2015 07:25,   


There are as many as 362,880 different cases that a baseball manager appoints players from number one to nine after selecting nine batters. Agonizing over the cases, the manager picks a single option, which has decisive influence on the victory. Even a seasoned coach with more than 10 years of experience says, “I want someone to make a decision for me,” a telling sign that shows how difficult it would be.

Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister has recently come up with a lot more, at least more than twice because of Choo Shin-soo. Having tried to organize the lineup in a way that excludes Choo as much as possible, he has more options to consider such as replacement players. The primary cause is disappointing performance of Choo. Analyzing the lineup of Banister, however, some experts offer different perspectives. They say “the hint of revenge” can be read from his lineup plan.

Banister and Choo had a big argument last month. When Banister openly criticized the defense of the veteran outfielder, Choo reacted against him, by saying “You do it for yourself.” Although they have professionally displayed the scenes of reconciliation, it seems that grudges have not easily gone away.

As second-half of the year began, the manager organized the lineup in a way that excludes Choo when a left-handed pitcher was selected. His reason was that Choo has relatively lower batting average against left-handed pitchers. Even knowing that Choo was ready to go for the replacement, Banister selected other player. Choo is said to have expressed his complaint later. He selected Choo as a defender and replaced him at the same inning but no one could raise objection as the manager was an expert in defense, which deeply insulted Choo. This is why Kim Gyeong-mun of the NC Dinos said, “It’s strange to see Banister appoints Choo at all.”

It would be awful for Texas Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels to see Choo whom he scouted for 130 million U.S. dollars fails to live up to the expectation. The problem is that it is he who brought Banister as the head of the Texas Rangers as well. Not able to be sided with anyone, Daniels must be suffering very badly.

Long-neglected conflict makes someone to leave at the end of the day. Japanese baseball legend Ichiro Suzuki had stood against manager Mike Hargrove in 2005 when he was playing for the Seattle Mariners. It was because of different style of playing baseball. Ichiro made fierce criticism against Hargrove’s leadership through the media. The manager demanded the club that Ichiro be traded, while he made a request to the management (Nintendo that owns the Seattle Mariners) that Hargrove be replaced. In the end, Hargrove left the team in two years.

The same applies to Hanley Ramírez who played for the same team with Ryu Hyun-jin until last year. Having not made tight defense for the Florida Marlins in 2009, he lost his manager’s confidence. When Fredi González who was not renowned coach back then made public criticism about lazy performance, then-superstar Ramírez bristled at him. The team sided with Ramírez, and González was fired at the end of the season.

Choo is not the only baseball star in his team and can’t expect the halo effect that Ichiro used to enjoy with Nintendo. Still, he commands high paycheck of 130 million dollars each year. If Choo wins the battle with Banister, the team would fall apart. If Banister wins, Choo would be branded as “a player who dined and dashed.” Either way, their club will be inflicted with damage.

It appears that Banister has recently adjusted his management based on the performance of Choo. The conflict still remains. There is only one verified answer. It is the victory of neither Choo nor Banister. It is the victory of the “Texas Rangers.” That is the reason the two have joined the club in the first place and that is the only way the two can survive down the road. The two may already know this as well.

touch @donga.com