Choi Ji-man of the Tampa Bay Rays will play in the World Series, a dream of any baseball player, becoming the first South Korean fielder to do so.
The Rays defeated the Houston Astros 4-2 in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS) on Sunday in Petco Park in San Diego, California. Despite losing the three straight games that followed three consecutive wins, The Rays are going to the World Series for the first time in 12 years after winning the series 4-3. The Rays will play either the Atlanta Braves or the Los Angeles Dodgers, depending on the result of a decisive Game 7 on Monday, to clinch its first ever win of the World Series.
In a decisive game where a loss would end the season for the Rays, Choi started as the fifth hitter and the first baseman and recorded three at-bats, two hits, one walk and one run. He scored after hitting the ball towards the center fielder and out of the field in the sixth inning when his team was leading the game 3-0, which was critical as the Astros quickly caught up by scoring two runs in the 8th inning.
The 29-year-old Korean who has drawn much attention for his leg split at first base showed his flexibility again on Sunday. He snagged a high throw from the third baseman Joey Wendle in the fifth inning with his foot not leaving the first base.
Choi, who is in the heart of the order, is the fourth South Korean baseball player who plays in the World Series following Kim Byung-hyun, Park Chan-ho and Ryu Hyun-jin. If Tampa Bay wins the series, he will become the second South Korean major leaguer who wears a World Series ring after Kim Byung-hyun who won in Arizona and Boston in 2001 and 2004, respectively.
Choi signed with the Seattle Mariners at the age of 18 after graduating Dongsan High School in Incheon in 2009. He played in Minor League Baseball for five years and signed with Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees and Milwaukee Brewers before he settled with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2018. He has proven his value during the postseason this year despite the criticism that he only does well when the pitcher is right-handed. He showed his commitment by crushing a bin before the game with the Astros and recorded the batting average of 0.385, one homerun and three walks. Will Choi, who has become indispensable in his team, be able to smile on the last day of the Major League Baseball?
Bae-Jung Kim firstname.lastname@example.org