Archive | April, 2010

Journey to Seoul

This last weekend I made the train ride up to Seoul to check out some of the baseball action up north.  There are 3 stadiums in the Seoul area, 2 in Seoul and 1 in Incheon.  The plan was to head up Friday and come back late Sunday night while taking in 1 new stadium a night.  My first stop was Mokdong Baseball Stadium in western Seoul.

Mokdong Stadium is home to the NEXEN Heroes.  The Heroes have a strong tradition in the KBO winning the championship 4 times (2nd only to Kia’s 10 titles).  However, this year NEXEN is mired at the bottom of the standings.  On Friday night, NEXEN happened to be playing the Kia Tigers, who again are near the top of the standings.

The game was a very good one.  Both starters had strong performances but came away with no decisions.  The game was tied after 9, and I thought I might see my first ever tie baseball game.  The rules here are a little different than back home.  If the game is tied after 12 innings, the game ends in a tie.  I understand why they have the rule, but I am not a big fan of it.  However, I am one of the fans who not only roots for free baseball (what I call extra innings), but I am one that wants to be at the park to witness the 18 or 20 inning game.

I would not see my first tie game, but I would see another first.  In the top of the 10th Kia would score to go ahead, but NEXEN would not quit.  They tied the game in the bottom half of the inning.  So onto the 11th we would go.  With a quiet half of the inning from Kia, NEXEN came to bat with a chance to win it, and this is where it got interesting.

With 2 outs in the inning and runners on first and second, reliever Lee Dong-hyeon would unleash a wild pitch to put runners at 2nd and 3rd.  But he wasn’t finished.  After walking the batter to load the bases, Lee Dong-hyeon then unleashed a 2nd wild pitch allowing the runner from 3rd to score the winning run.  This was my first walk-off wild pitch at a professional game.  After seeing the replays on TV a few nights later, the catcher didn’t do him any favors.  He simply tried to backhand both pitches, and they both got by him.  Anyway the damage was done and NEXEN walked away with the win.

A few notes about the game and the stadium:

  • The Kia Tigers fans traveled well.  There were a lot of them, they actually outnumbered the Heroes fans, and they were very loud.  Any hit or out was cheered in unison which was very impressive.
  • I arrived early to see batting practice, and as I stood down the left field line I almost got hit by a ball.  It was drizzling so I had my umbrella out when one of the Tigers players hits a screaming line drive home run down the line right at me.  My first instinct was to try and catch it.  Then I realized I was holding my umbrella so I thought of trying to catch it with the umbrella.  I quickly realized this was not a smart thing to do so at the last second I simply moved out of the way.  The ball landed behind me where I picked it up and gave it to one of the two young boys who came running up after it.
  • In the top of the 5th with the score tied 1-1, Kia attempted to run the squeeze play with runners at 1st and 3rd.  They just happened to run it horribly.    A new left handed pitcher had just been brought in, and the first thing he does is throw over to 1st base two straight times.  Both times the Tigers gave away they were running the squeeze.  So what does NEXEN do, pitch out and catch the squeeze play still on.  I thought it was painfully obvious what they wanted to do, and apparently so did the NEXEN manager.

All in all it was a fun night.  The crowd was into the game, and there was enough action to keep it interesting.  I can’t wait to get back and see another game there.

Next time I’ll be talking about my trip to Jamsil Stadium in Seoul, home of the LG Twins and Doosan Bears (yes they share the stadium).  ‘Till then, here are a few pictures from Mokdong Stadium.

Posted in KBO0 Comments

Seoul Searching

This weekend should be an exciting one for me.  I am leaving Colorful Daegu and heading north to Seoul for some weekend baseball action.  There are 3 stadiums in the Seoul area with 2 in Seoul and 1 in neighboring Incheon.

After a train ride north to Seoul, I’ll be heading to Mokdong Stadium to see the visiting Kia Tigers take on the NEXEN Heroes.  This is the smallest stadium of the 3 and that is the reason I wil

l hit it up on Friday.  I hope the weather holds out for the game.  Right now they are calling for rain most of Friday.

Saturday the weather should clear up.  The temps will still hover around 60 degrees which will make for a nice cool evening to see a game.  I’ll be heading to Incheon on Saturday to see Munhak Stadium, home of the SK Wyverns.  SK will be taking on the Lotte Giants.  Right now SK is atop the league with a 15-5 mark.

Sunday will wrap up at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul with a contest between the visiting Hanwha Eagles against the LG Twins.

During the day I will be checking out some of the sites in Seoul that interest me, but the main part of the trip is to check out the stadiums.  I plan to see all 7 in the league, and this trip will put me at 4 if I am able to see all 3.  It should be a good weekend and I will report back here early next week with all the details.

Until then, I hope you get in some baseball as well and have a great weekend.

TBJM

Posted in KBO0 Comments

When Will Congress Stop?

Time to get up on my soapbox for a moment.

I saw this article the other day and was furious when I read it.  Congress looking into smokeless tobacco use

Let me start by saying that I do not use tobacco in any form, but since when is it Congress’ job to decide who does?  Are there not bigger issues to worry about?  Our country is headed downhill in a hurry and these boneheads are worried about what children might think if they see a MLB player using tobacco.  Shouldn’t they be more concerned about educating them?  Maybe teach them the effects of the products so they won’t use it instead of forcing professional athletes not to use it because little Jimmy might want to try it.

There is a bigger issue at stake if that is the case and it starts at home.  I can understand the steroids use and Congress wanting something to be done about it.  But there is a bigger issue there, steroids are illegal.  They are so concerned about the kids looking up to pro athletes and not so concerned that little Jimmy’s father might take him to a game and get drunk.  Should we ban beer next?  Why not educate people instead?

Tori Hunter points makes a good point.  What about the people in the homes that are using the same smokeless tobacco?  Are you going to ban them from using it?  Maybe we should concentrate on being better parents so the kids will look up to them instead of the ballplayers.  Or maybe I was just blessed with parents that truly cared about what I did and became.  There are so many problems in our country and a lot of them could be solved if we simply got in touch with the kids.  Teach them what is right and wrong and be a role model for them so they don’t have to go looking for a role model elsewhere.

I am stepping down off my soap box now.  What are your thoughts on the issue?

Congressional Seal

Posted in MLB0 Comments

Baseball Salaries vs Values

I was recently sent a story from Forbes about the value of MLB teams, and I started to wonder how that list corresponded to the salary list.  So let’s take a look at the top 10 most valuable MLB franchises according to Forbes.

Top 10 MLB Team Values

Home Plate at the Ballpark in Arlington

  1. New York Yankees
  2. Boston Red Sox
  3. New York Mets
  4. Los Angeles Dodgers
  5. Chicago Cubs
  6. Philadelphia Phillies
  7. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  8. St. Louis Cardinals
  9. San Fransisco Giants
  10. Chicago White Sox

The top 5 on the list out distance the rest of the clubs by a long shot.  The Yankees weight in at $1.6 billion with the Red Sox in 2nd at $870 million.  A big drop off is seen after #5.  The Cubs come in at $726 million, but there is nearly a 200 million drop off to #6 in Philadelphia. So how does this translate to salary levels?  Below is the top 10 MLB salaries according to cbssports.com.

Top 10 MLB Team Salaries*

*bold teams on both lists
  1. New York Yankees
  2. Boston Red Sox
  3. Chicago Cubs
  4. Philadelphia Phillies
  5. New York Mets
  6. Detroit Tigers
  7. Chicago White Sox
  8. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  9. Seattle Mariners
  10. San Francisco Giants

Only 2 teams valued in the top 10 by Forbes are not on the list of the top 10 salaries for 2010 (Los Angeles Dodgers & St. Louis Cardinals).  The Dodgers come in at #12 on the salary list, while the Cardinals come in at #13.   The Seattle Mariners (#14 on the Forbes list) and the Detroit Tigers (#22 on the Forbes list) are the only teams not in the top 10 of value that are in the top 10 in salary.

So we can see that the majority of the highest valued teams also have the highest payrolls, but it is the same with the lower valued teams?

Bottom 10 MLB Teams in Value according to Forbes

  1. Baltimore Orioles
  2. Detroit Tigers
  3. Milwaukee Brewers
  4. Kansas City Royals
  5. Cincinnati Reds
  6. Toronto Blue Jays
  7. Florida Marlins
  8. Tampa Bay Rays
  9. Oakland Athletics
  10. Pittsburgh Pirates

This really isn’t too surprising a list.  Most of these teams have not won for many years.  Despite a few having new stadiums, more are playing in older parks built at least 15 years ago.  But how does it translate to salaries.

Bottom 10 MLB Teams in Salary*

*bold teams on both lists
  1. Tampa Bay Rays
  2. Toronto Blue Jays
  3. Washington Nationals
  4. Cleveland Indians
  5. Arizona Diamondbacks
  6. Florida Marlins
  7. Texas Rangers
  8. Oakland Atletics
  9. San Diego Padres
  10. Pittsburgh Pirates

Most of the teams down at the bottom of Forbes list in terms of value are on the list of the lowest payrolls.  I find it interesting to see how the two list compare with one another.  For the most part a team with low value has low payroll and vice-versa.  There are however exceptions to the rule.  Detroit is a lower valued team but is spending.  The Texas Rangers are a higher valued team (#12) but are not spending much on payroll.  Of course, they are going through an ownership change that can’t come quick enough.  There will always be exceptions, but as a general rule it looks as though the higher the value team, the more spent on payroll.

Perhaps the most telling sign is the difference between the Yankees at #1 and the Pirates at #30.  The Yankees payroll comes in at just over $206 million, while the Pirates top out at just under $35 million.  When you break it down per player that is $8.2 million to $1.2 million.  There are all sorts of stats that simply blow you away like how the top 4 individual player salaries are all Yankees.  Their salary added up for this year is more than 21 teams.  I really can’t think of how that is good for baseball.

So, does this money spent translate into wins?

The biggest favorites for a World Series title this year come from the teams that are on the list of the higher payrolls.  Looking at possible playoff teams from the lower third of the payroll, you can still find one or two possible playoff teams, but none that you would expect to contend for a World Series title.   This has got me thinking about what teams have won in the playoffs being in the bottom third of league salary levels.  I am going to do some research and get back to you on that.

What are your thoughts on these lists?  I have some more thoughts on salaries, but I will save that for later.

The two lists that I used.

The Forbes.com List of Baseball Team Values

CBSsports.com MLB Salaries List

20. Kansas City Royals $72,267,710 $2,491,990
21. Tampa Bay Rays $71,923,471 $2,663,832
22. Toronto Blue Jays $62,689,357 $2,089,645
23. Washington Nationals $61,425,000 $2,047,500
24. Cleveland Indians $61,203,967 $2,110,482
25. Arizona Diamondbacks $60,718,167 $2,335,314
26. Florida Marlins $55,641,500 $2,060,796
27. Texas Rangers $55,250,545 $1,905,191
28. Oakland Athletics $51,654,900 $1,666,287
29. San Diego Padres $37,799,300 $1,453,819
30. Pittsburgh Pirates

Posted in MLB0 Comments

Daegu Baseball Stadium

Daegu Baseball Stadium

Home of the Samsung Lions

Located near downtown Daegu, Daegu Baseball Stadium has the feel of a small town stadium.  I have really enjoyed my trips to the stadium but it has nothing to do with the stadium itself.

The atmosphere is what makes this stadium great.  The fans are passionate and they seem to be fairly knowledgeable.  The cheering is frantic and often.  The chants from behind the home team dugout are amazing.  The energy the fans have here is simply amazing.

There are some downsides though.  The Lions are playing well right now, so the games I have attended have been packed with fans.  The seating is the biggest flaw.  The majority of seats are general admission and are first-come first-served.  A lot of the fans get there early to get seats and generally take up more than needed.  They will use the extra seats to set their food down leaving the rest of the fans to either stand, which many do, or sit on the ground somewhere.  The stadium holds 13,941, but I think they sell standing room only tickets as well.  The games are really packed with fans which makes for an electric environment.

The food selection is nothing like what you would find back home in the States, but it really isn’t the same anywhere here in Asia.  Instead of hot dogs you will find cup of noodles, mandu (dumplings), and other assorted goodies.  Food and beverages can be brought in which is always nice as well.  Chicken is a favorite it seems at games.  There is a row of stands outside the stadium that sell fried chicken and other goodies.

I purchased some chicken strips from a vendor before the game.  The quality was quite nice and it was enough to feed 2 people for 5,000 won or around $5.  It’s definitely worth bringing in some of your favorite foods since the selection at the games are thin.   I have seen many people bringing in pizzas and other goodies from outside restaurants so anything goes.

The ballpark itself is old.  It was built in 1981 and is typical for a stadium built in that time.  A lot of concrete and not a lot else.  The seats are old and do not have the extras you will find in the states such as cup holders and arm rests.  Some of the seats have tables in front of them making it easier for people to eat/drink during the game.  These are not the majority however and the few that exist for the general admission crowd I would assume go rather quick after the gates open.

Overall Daegu Baseball Stadium is a fun place to see a game but that has nothing to do with stadium itself.  The fans make this a place worth stopping in to catch a game.

Posted in Stadiums0 Comments

Do You Remember Your First Baseball Game?

I recently found out that a fellow English teacher here in South Korea had never been to a baseball game.  So I did what any baseball fan would do.  I drug him down to a game.  Thomas is from Scotland so he has never had a lot of exposure to the game.  After the game he was then kind enough to answer some questions for me regarding his experience.  So I will let Thomas take it from here.

1. What was your initial reaction when you arrived at the park and saw all the fans?

I was expecting there to be a lot of people at the park, and there were. What I wasn’t expecting was the atmosphere. The mood of the people there was so happy and carefree, like all inhibitions had been lifted and they could all be kids again. It’s something I’ve never really experienced in Korea before.

2. What did you think of the pace of the game?

Honestly, I thought the game was very slow. Having never been to a baseball game before, I don’t know if the pace was normal or slower than usual, but it seemed that there was a lot of milling around and wasted time between turns.

3. Was it an easy game to follow?

For the most part, yes. It took me a little while (and some explaining from yourself) for me to figure out the scoring system and how to read the scoreboard, but the actual play on the field was very easy to follow after that.

4. Korean fans are some of the more passionate, did you feel this was the case? (I should have specified passionate for baseball fans)

Having never been to another baseball game, I don’t can’t compare them to other baseball fans. However, I can say that the fans, compared to UK soccer and rugby fans (which is where my only other sport crowd experience lies) were very sedate, quiet and peaceful.

5. What did you think of the atmosphere inside the stadium?

The atmosphere inside the stadium was relaxed, fun and friendly. I thought it was awesome that there were kids playing ball all around the stadium, people of all ages chilling out on the seats, chanting and cheering. I liked that there fathers and sons together at the ga me, something that’s seen so rarely in this country.

6. What did you think of the ballpark?  (seats, food, etc..)

On this point, I was not happy. The stadium was small, the fans many and the seats few. There were hardly any facilities inside the stadium itself. I was expecting guys walking round with hot dogs and snacks, drinks all round and seats. Honestly, the reason I left the game early was that I was hungry and my legs were hurting. If I’d had a chair and some snacks, the experience would have been greatly enriched.

7. Would you like to see any changes to the game?

As a newcomer to baseball, I don’t really feel I have the right to suggest changes, but I do think it would be a little better with less time wasted between turns and innings.

8. would you return for another game?

Yes, most definitely.

9. Any additional thoughts/concerns?

I think it would be a good idea, if I go again, to bring some snacks and maybe a folding chair (like a little fishing stool), so I don’t have to stand. Alternatively, getting there early enough to grab a couple of seats would be a good idea.

I’d like to thank Thomas for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions.  I would also like to point out he was gracious enough to trade his brand new Samsung Lions hat he bought before the game, to a young boy.  In return Thomas got a hat made out o f paper.  It absolutely made that young boys day.

Do you remember your first baseball game?  If you do, I’d like to hear about what you thought.

Posted in KBO, Interviews2 Comments

Opening Day Disappointment

When I first got to South Korea I was very excited to find out that a 7 pm MLB game back home would be a late morning start here.  I thought this was great.  I don’t go to work till 2pm, so that would mean I could catch a game before work.  After doing a little digging, it turns out that South Korea is one of 3 countries where live games on mlb.tv are blacked out until 90 minutes after the game ends.  Okay so that means I just have to stay off the baseball sites during work and watch a game after work.  I am usually up until 3 or 4am anyway.

Well this all started well last night.  After work on Monday, I picked up some dinner and came home to catch the Red Sox/Yankees game.  It was nice to see the opening game and even nicer to see the Yankees lose.  It’s always a good day when the Yankees are in last place, even if it is after only 1 game.  It was a good game too.  The Yankees start of strong but the Red Sox come back late to take game 1.

With many of the games played on Monday during the day, it meant I could catch a game before work on Tuesday since they would finish in time for me to watch the archived game.  I was excited this morning when my alarm went off.  I knew I would soon be watching the Braves game, but that was not to be.  Opening day is a big deal to me.  I am like a kid at Christmas.  I used to take the day off every year so I could either go to the Rangers game, or watch as much as I could on TV.  They should not only get rid of the DH, but they should also make Opening Day a national holiday.

So, I get up this morning ready to watch the Braves start the season off.  This is the best I have felt about the team in years.  I really think they can compete for a playoff spot, and they have the chance to do some damage once they get there.  My excitement was quickly foiled.  MLB.tv is down this morning.  Nobody is able to watch live or archived games.  Meaning thousands of fans overseas and at home cannot watch games like they planned.  Of all the days not to have the site working, Opening Day has to be the worst.

I am still holding off to watch the Braves game till after work tonight.  I broke down and saw the Ranger highlights and that looked like a great game.  The Rangers were no-hit for 6 1/3 innings and then pulled off a 9th inning comeback to win the game with a bases loaded walk off single from Salty.  That’s a great way to start the year off.  I hope they continue winning and make their way into the playoffs for the first time since in over a decade.

Get your act together MLB.tv.  I am really going to be hot if I get home from work in 9+ hours and still can’t watch the Braves game.  The hardest part will be going the 9+ hours without seeing the score.

Posted in MLB0 Comments

Greatest Manager Meltdown?

In June of 2007, Phillip Wellman had enough.  The manager of the Mississippi Braves simply exploded, and with it he gave us one of the greatest manager meltdowns of all-time.  I for one think this might be the greatest.  You be the judge.  Is there a better one out there?  I’d like to hear your favorites.

Posted in Videos2 Comments

First Game of 2010

I am sitting on a bus with an older man standing behind me, and all I can think about is how bad he needs a shower.  This was not the way I wanted to start such an important day.

I get up at 11 am and immediately check to see if my camera batteries are charged.  I hear the day going by outside my window, but all I can think about is a hot shower.  I need to get moving because today is a big day.  It’s the first weekend of baseball, and today I am going to see my first game for the year.  First things first though, I look for breakfast.

I head for the bus stop after I stop at Dunkin Donuts for my customary weekend blueberry bagel.  I have my iPod blaring some Jimmy Buffett, and I wait for the bus to take me to the park for the days festivities.  I have been looking forward to this for a few months now, and the excitement continues to build.

As I make the 30 minute trip downtown to the stadium, I can’t help but notice the smell of the gentleman behind me.  I tune it out as best I can.  The anticipation of seeing my first Korean baseball game overrides even the bad B.O. that waifs through the bus.  I arrive near the stadium, and I walk toward the park so giddy I feel like I am skipping.  A young boy walks up next to me and smiles.  I ask him if he likes baseball, and he just smiles.  I doubt he speaks any English.  Today I feel like I am a little boy again going to his first game.  I walk along the road with the sun beating down on my neck, and I can’t help but think about how far I have come in a year.

I remember arriving at the ballpark hoping and praying the rain would stay away.  The weather was not looking good for baseball that day.  I was very excited about finally getting to see Opening Day in Atlanta, home of the Braves.  The weather held off for several hours, and our seats were just under the edge of the overhang in the upper deck.  So there was a slight chance that even with some rain, we might not get too wet.

As the game wore on, the weather slowly turned.  A light rain began to fall, but in the distance the black sky was moving closer.  Then suddenly the sky opened and the downpour began.  Everyone started running for cover as the rain got harder.  We made our way down underneath the stands and started walking around getting a better look at Turner Field. I was a little saddened that I had finally made it to Opening Day in Atlanta, only to have it storm.  The game was postponed in the 4th inning, and would be for just over 2 hours.  By the time they resumed play, my friends and I had made it back to the house to finish watching the Braves win in extra innings on TV.

Today there is no TV, just a beautiful spring day.  We watch the game from behind a section down the right field line, and I boo and cheer with every crack of the bat.  Spring is a beautiful time of year.  It’s a time of rebirth, and a time for baseball.  I realize today that while I am still a stranger in a strange land, for a  few hours we are all cheering for the same team.  I feel the game of baseball brings me a little bit closer to the Koreans I am cheering with.  We may cheer in a foreign language to the other, but I have a feeling we are saying the same things.  A home run is hit, and I give a little nod to a man nearby.  Baseball helps bridge our language gap for this one day.  I really enjoy the experience of today as I walk away from the park.  Thomas and I call over a cab.  It carries us toward our dinner destination, and I can’t help but think of where I might be next year on Opening Day.

Posted in MLB, KBO2 Comments


New Era (eFashion Solutions)

Quote of the Month

There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem - once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit. ~Al Gallagher, 1971

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