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Korea beats Japan at ‘Tokyo combat` thanks to veteran player

Korea beats Japan at ‘Tokyo combat` thanks to veteran player

Posted November. 21, 2015 11:13,   


In the Korean baseball community, there is a slogan, “Again 1982.” Korean baseball fans will never forget the final game between Korea and Japan at the World Baseball Classic, which took place at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in 1982. Korea, which was trailing Japan 0-2 through the seventh inning, managed to tie the score due to Kim Jae-bak’s "flog squeeze bunt," before Han Dae-hwa garnered a three-run homer to enable Korea to secure an upset win 5-2. Thursday’s upset win that Korea secured over Japan in the top of the ninth inning in the semifinal game of the "WBSC Premier 12 Championship" at Tokyo Dome was comparable in the level of excitement to the 1982 event.

Unlike the previous World Baseball Classic events, the "Premier 12," an international competition that takes place for the first time this year, is a championship in which 12 top-ranked national teams compete, excluding players with the U.S. Major League. Most players of the U.S. team are Minor Leaguers. Some critics say that Japan, the host to the championship, organized the event only to win the title. Tokyo Dome, the heart of Japanese baseball, however, fell into complete silence when Lee Dae-ho, the first player from Korea to win the MVP in the Japan Series this year, made a timely two-base hit.

A Korean netizen uploaded an Internet post, reading “I now know why they compare baseball to a life. Thursday’s game was a drama beyond a sport event, which gave us the lesson to never give up to the end. I hope all the people who are facing hardships will find hope after watching the game.” This writer entered a beer pub with friends at the moment the top of the ninth inning started after Korea was tracing Japan 0-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning. The pub instantly got into an extremely feverish mood like Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan during the Lotte Giants’ pro baseball games. It was the very moment that completely dispelled gloomy mood in Korean society, which young Koreans cynically call “Hell Joseon (hellish Korea)” in recent years.

The Korean national team set sail amid the worst situation this year. The pitchers group, the most critical factor in a short-term series, was the weakest ever due to, among other reasons, a gambling scandal that embroiled a couple of star players. Japan set the Korean team’s schedule in a way that forced the team to fly to Taiwan and Japan, and suddenly advanced the date for the semifinal. However, Manager Kim In-shik, who has ample experience in coaching international games, was not swayed by Japan’s plots. Korean players renewed their commitment to win the championship, even though winning the title would not grant them exemption from compulsory military service, unlike other major international sports competitions. When a veteran player, who knows through experience that a "baseball game only starts in the ninth inning" never gave up, who else would dare to throw the towel?