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KBO referees embroiled in controversy over ABS decision concealment

KBO referees embroiled in controversy over ABS decision concealment

Posted April. 16, 2024 07:57,   

Updated April. 16, 2024 07:57


Before Sunday's game against Kiwoom, professional baseball coach Lotte Kim Tae-hyung strongly criticized the Automatic Ball and Strike System (ABS) introduced this season. Indeed, during professional baseball games this year, pitchers or batters questioned the calls several times.

Just hours after Manager Kim voiced his concerns, an incident related to ABS came to light. It was revealed that during the NC-Samsung match in Daegu, the umpires made a different call from ABS and attempted to conceal this fact.

The controversial situation arose in the bottom of the third inning with NC leading 1-0. When NC's Lee Jae-hak threw the second pitch to Samsung's Lee Jae-hyun, first-base runner Kim Ji-chan attempted to steal second base and was called out. However, this pitch was ruled a ball. Later, when Lee Jae-hak threw three more balls, making the count full, NC coach Kang In-kwon protested to referee Moon Seung-hoon about the initial ball call. The tablet PC provided by the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) indicated that the second pitch was actually called a strike.

However, a controversial scene unfolded during the 4th inning break, captured on the TV broadcast. First-base umpire Lee Min-ho, who heads the umpire team, was heard saying to umpire Moon, "Make sure you were told that it was called a ball. Understood?" A moment showing him saying, "That's the only way for us to get out," was exposed on air. KBO has requested a report from the relevant umpire. If the suspicion that the referees attempted to cover up their mistakes proves true, it seems heavy disciplinary action will be unavoidable.

Heon-Jae Lee uni@donga.com