Tag Archive | "2010"

Incheon – SK Wyverns and Munhak Baseball Stadium


Last week during my summer vacation, I got the chance to make a trip up to Seoul/Incheon and see the home of the SK Wyverns.  I was glad I made the trip.  Munhak Baseball Stadium is the best stadium I’ve seen in so far in Korea.  I have been to 5 of the 7 used by the KBO, and this one really stands out as the gem of the league.

The stadium was built in 2001 and holds 28,500 people.  Maybe a little small for MLB standards, but this one is nice no matter what league you play in.  The stadium has all the amenities you would normally find in a professional stadium, plus a few extras.  Above the left field stands is a small grassy area where families can spread a blanket and have picnics. In the right field stands there is an area where you can have BBQs.  Both areas were full of patrons on the Friday night I was there.  Two large video boards sit in above the outfield seats and bring you all the information and highlights you need.  The hitters background in center field is a tree lined area where a fountain will go off when a Wyverns player hits a home run.

I was treated to a pitching duel that included former major leaguer Roman Colon of the Kia Tigers. Colon pitched great but in the end would be saddled with the loss.  An error in the first inning would lead to an unearned run, and that would be the difference in the end as SK would beat Kia 2-1.

The SK fans were awesome.  Cheering and screaming the entire game.  The one thing that stood out from the cheerleading was hearing what sounded like the music to New Kids On the Block’s Hanging Tough.   Repeatedly they would play this music while cheering on their team.  Each time it came on I would crack a little smile and think about the little league games I played in.  There was a team I played against and for that would play hanging tough between innings.  Thankfully the league finally banned them from playing music.

One thing I really enjoyed about Munhak Stadium was that with 1 ticket you could walk around just about anywhere in the stadium to sit.  The general admission seats run 8,000 won and run from dugout through the outfield to the opposite dugout.  There isn’t a bad seat in the house.  I watch some of the game from the outfield, to the infield, to the seats high up above home plate.  All were great places to see the game.

There was one fan that stood out.  Anytime there was music, he was waving his hands around in a circular motion like a madman.  It was quite funny to see this guy do this EVERYTIME there was music.  No matter if it was a short 10 second clip of music or for almost 2 minutes between innings, he was going at it and going hard.  Below you will see a picture of him.  I have dubbed him the Wyverns #1 fan.  I took a video of him (I was in the upper deck so he is a little small), but it’s worth a look.  Enjoy.

I highly recommend taking in a game in Incheon if you are ever in Seoul.  It’s just a subway ride away, and you won’t be disappointed.  Take a look at some of the photos I took while at the game.  If you’d like to see more of Munhak Stadium, please check out my Flickr page.

Munhak Baseball Stadium

View from CF Munhak Baseball Stadium

With the SK Wyverns Mascot

SK Wyverns #1 Fan

Posted in KBO, StadiumsComments (1)

Busan – Sajik Stadium and the Lotte Giants


My planned trip to Taiwan fell through, but in the end it opened up a few more opportunities to see some baseball here in Korea.  One of my goals for this year was to see each stadium in the KBO.  Before this past weekend, I had only been able to make it to 3 of the 7 stadiums.  I go to knock two more off the list this past week.

I started off in Busan, home of the Lotte Giants.  The Giants have won the title 2 years but not since 1992.  They are one of the more popular teams in Korea, and inevitably when I ask a student who their favorite team is about half the time it is the Giants.  The Giants dominated the All-Star team this year placing 8 on the starting team for the East.

The Giants play their home games in Sajik Baseball Stadium.  Built in 1985, Sajik holds 28,500 people and is a nice stadium by KBO standards.  I was anxious to finally visit what I have heard is the “Mecca for Baseball” in Korea.  It didn’t disappoint.

The Giants are fighting with the LG Twins for the 4th and final playoff spot this year.  They have a potent offense filled with power hitters, but their pitching is a little susceptible which was on display Thursday night.

The game got out of hand early for Lotte when starting pitcher Lee Jae-gon gave up 7 runs on 3 HRs all in the 2nd inning. Two of the HRs were hit by the Kia Tigers leadoff man Lee Yong-gyu (who had 0 homers heading into the game). Lee Yong-gyu hit a 3-run homer in his first at bat and then a grand slam in his second at bat of the inning.  From there, Kia cruised to a 12-5 victory.

The stadium is very nice for Korean standards, but lacking by western standards.  It was still a nice experience and the weather couldn’t have been any nicer.  The best part of watching games in Busan is the cool nights.  With it being on the coast, it is usually cooler than other parts of the country.  The night I was there a nice breeze was blowing (and judging by the Kia bats it was blowing out).

I highly recommend anyone in Busan to take in a game.  The excitement was electrifying.  Even down 10 runs early, the Giants fans never stopped cheering on their team.  This seems to be pretty standard for the Korean fan, and honestly this is really endearing to me.  Any game back home would be dead silent after the visiting team goes up 10-0 in the 2nd inning, but to the Giant’s fans credit they never gave up.

Stay tuned – next up I will be writing about a trip I made to Incheon to see the league leading SK Wyverns.

‘Till then enjoy a few pictures from Busan.  If you would like to see more, feel free to check out my Flickr page.

Also don’t forget to check out the new video posted on the homepage.  It’s a great manager meltdown from the minors.

Sajik Baseball Stadium Busan, South Korea

Me and the Lotte Giants Mascot

Sajik Baseball Stadium Busan, South Korea

Rally Bags?

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Rangers Fans – Party Like It’s 1999?


Last year was only the 2nd season since 1999 that the Texas Rangers finished a season above .500.  Even with a 2nd place finish in 2009, the Rangers finished 10 games back of Anaheim.  Ranger fans have seen a lot of great players since the last division winner in 1999, but the one thing they haven’t seen is a playoff victory.  The Rangers have only made the playoffs 3 times in franchise history with only 1 win in the postseason to show for it (that came in 1996).

So what is different about this team?  I will give you one word, pitching.  Through 97 games the Rangers have an ERA of 3.81.  The last time Texas has had an ERA under 4 was 1990.  That team had the likes of Nolan Ryan, Charlie Hough, Bobby Witt, Kevin Brown, and Kenny Rogers (who led the team in saves).  The pitching staff even included a young 27 year-old named Jamie Moyer who is still going strong 20 years later.

Surprisingly they are doing this with Rich Harden (3-3 5.68 era) and Scott Feldman (5-8 5.48 era) having horrible years. Instead it has been the likes of Colby Lewis (9-6 3.52 era), C J Wilson (9-5 3.03 era), and Tommy Hunter (7-0 2.09 era) anchoring the rotation.  And this year the big addition was not a mediocre end of the rotation starter but one of the best pitchers in baseball, Cliff Lee.  For the first time in years, the Rangers have a legit ace on the staff.  Not only an ace, but one with solid playoff experience and success.

Throw in the success of the bullpen this year, and the staff has been solid all year long.  Neftali Feliz has been lights out in the 9th closing down games converting 27 of 29 save chances.  But a closer is only as good as his setup men.  If you can’t get the ball to your closer with the lead, he won’t be effective.  The Rangers have done that well all year long.  The ageless wonder Darren Oliver (42 IP, 1.29 era) has returned to Texas in a big way.  Anchoring down the pen with Feliz and Oliver is Darren O’Day and Frank Francisco.  Throw in Matt Harrison who has been in the pen and in the rotation along with youngster Alexi Ogando and the Rangers are poised to make a run at the playoffs.

The only concern I have about the pitching staff is the work load some of them will face.  C J Wilson has been in the bullpen for 93.5% of his MLB career and has already pitched 50 innings more than last year.  So how he will hold up come late August and September is anyone’s guess.  Colby Lewis pitched in Japan last year where they throw every 6 days.  Nobody is sure how that will effect him come late in the season.  They are also relying on Tommy Hunter who is young.  The good thing is Cliff Lee.  He is a work horse who will eat up innings which will help the bullpen as well.  That is the last worry point, the bullpen.  They have been well used so far this year with the struggles of Harden and Feldman.  Will they get enough rest to pitch well down the stretch remains to be seen.

As the Offense goes, it has been impressive.  Josh Hamilton (23/71/.354) is hitting out of his mind right now.  He has been unbelievable so far this year, and he has protection.  Hitting in front of him is Bad Vlad Guerrero (20/76/.313) and behind him Nelson Cruz (12/52/.329).  Not to mention the solid seasons that Micheal Young (14/57/.302) and Elvis Andrus are having.  There are two spots of worry for the offense, firstbase and catcher.  These areas really need an upgrade before the postseason, but it looks like that will depend on what happens with the ownership situation.

Any Ranger fan has to be excited about the prospects in the postseason this year.  With a solid offense, a new ace in Cliff Lee, and 3 solid #2 starters for playoff series in Wilson, Hunter, and Lewis, the Rangers are poised to make a run at their first World Series appearance.  The question remains how will they deal with the dog days of summer.

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High School Baseball in Korea


I had the opportunity to see a few games this weekend in the Daebung Flag Championship here in Daegu.  It was an interesting experience to take in high school baseball in Korea for the first time.  So I thought I would share my observations from the games.

I was able to take in the quarterfinals and semifinals, so I got to see some good baseball.  The first thing that stood out to me was how fundamentally sound they were.  Sure there were errors, but overall they were very sound defensively for this age group.  They did the little things quite well: pitcher covering first, hitting cut-off men, and always knowing where to throw the ball in a given situation.   Granted these teams were the better ones in the tournament, but I was still impressed.

The pitching was solid.  Most threw between 110 to 125 kph (68-77 mph).  One pitcher late in the day Saturday got it up to 137 kph (about 85 mph), but the majority of them threw in the mid to high 70s.  There were also a lot of sidearmers pitching.  Each team seemed to have a few of them.  I was also impressed with the depth of pitching.  I didn’t see a drop off until late Saturday.  By this time each team had played 4-5 games.  That takes a lot of depth to play that many games over the course of 4 days.

The hitters were good as well, and they hit with wooden bats.  I don’t know if this is what they use during non-tournament games, but I would assume so.  They hit well with them, so I know this wasn’t something completely new to them.

The one thing that bothered me about the hitters was the body armor most of them wore.  I am not a big fan of this at any level.  There were several hit batters that was clearly due to the fact they had on the elbow pad.  I don’t like the fact the hitter isn’t afraid to get hit.  That’s fine if he isn’t wearing any padding, but when he is I don’t like it.  Getting hit is part of the game, and so is the inside pitch which is far less effective when the hitter leans in with his elbow pad to take first base.

There were a lot of triples.  The outfield played pretty shallow.  I assume due to the use of wooden bats.  This did allow them to take away what would normally be hits, but when someone would put one in the gap it turned into a triple because they could not cut it off.

The managers get away with murder and aren’t tossed.  I don’t know if it has to do with how much they respect their elders here, but if you did half of what some of these guys did back home, you would be tossed so quick you wouldn’t know what hit you.  I found it interesting too at how they would argue sometimes.  One coach made a point to pull his team off the field when he was arguing a call.  That was something I had never seen before.

There is a lot of respect for the other team and umpires shown by the players.  Before their first at bat, players would take off their helmet and bow to the home plate umpire.  The fielders would also do the same in the first inning to the umpires in the field.  Korean culture has a lot to do with respect for those older than you which is good.  After the games, the two teams would line up facing one another, then bow and say something.  They would then cross each others lines and bow to the opposing teams dugout.  The winning team would then turn and face the stands and bow to their fans.

Before the 6th inning starts, there is a break.  It usually lasts about 10 minutes.  Most teams would just rest in the dugout while the umpires went underneath the stands for a breather.  I don’t think I would like this if I am playing.  Especially if you have momentum.  I can’t think of a better momentum killer than stopping the game like this.

One of the funnier things I saw was in the stands.  Sure the fans that were there, and there weren’t many, really got into the game by cheering like they do at any event, but the thing that really got me smiling were the foul balls.  Back home you would seen any small child running after a foul ball and fighting over them.  Here it is the same except it isn’t the kids running after them.  It’s grown men.  I saw men jumping over rows to get balls, running down balls that went down the concourse, and 3 or 4 men almost diving for a ball in the stands trying to come up with a souvenir.

Over all I was quite pleased with my trip.  I am a little disappointed I can’t watch the final today, but it is raining continuously.  I am sure it will be played tomorrow instead but I have to work.  I’ll keep an eye on the KBA website to see who wins.  Both are hometown teams from Daegu.

Next up I am hoping to make a trip to see some college ball in a tournament starting next weekend.  It runs for over a week so I have 2 weekends to try and take in a game.

Posted in Asia, Junior BaseballComments (0)

Daebung Flag High School Tournament


I was really excited to see some high school baseball this weekend, and I was not disappointed.  Since 1979, the Daebung Flag Championship has been played in Daegu.  It is a 22 team tournament that is held every year and played at the home of the KBO’s Samsung Lions.

I decided to take off on Friday to go check out the action in the 32nd annual tournament.  I was quickly glad I made the trip.

I arrived about noon on Friday and caught the end of the first quarterfinal game.  And what is the first thing I see, a triple play.  It was the first one I have ever seen in person.  The situation was runners at 1st and 2nd.  The batter hits a hard line drive to center field, but the runners were running so it was an easy triple play.  I wound up watching the last few innings of this game, then I got ready for the 2nd game of the day.

Game 2 of the day was quite a treat.  Both teams were playing well.  The pitching was quite good, in fact I think they might have been throwing their aces.  The visiting team jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first half inning.  The home team responded in the bottom of the inning with a run of its own.

Most of the game was a pitching duel.  The visiting team starter went 8 innings gave up 1 run, 3 hits, and only walked one.  The most surprising thing was he was relieved after the 7th inning and put into right field.  However, his relief gave up 2 straight triples.  So with the score 3-2, not outs, and a runner at third, they brought him back into get out of the inning.  Amazingly he does just that.  On three ground balls, he gets out of the inning without allowing the tying run to score.  He dominated the entire game, but his counterparts put up quite the fight.

The starter for the home team pitched well, but he walked too many batters to get too far into the game.  He wound up going only 4 1/3 innings, but he pitched well.  It was the 5 walks that wound up doing him in.  After a few relievers, the team was out of quality pitching.  The last one in wound up giving up 4 runs in the top of the 9th, and they never threatened again.  The box score is below.

[ daebunggi High School Baseball Championship]
2010-07-09 12:50 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 R
WIN Gyeongbukgo 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 7
Inchanggo 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2

After that exciting game, I went for a walk to get some lunch.  I returned to see game 3 of the day which turned out to be quite entertaining.  Both teams were equally matched and errors would wind up costing one team the win.  But the thing that I will take away from this game was the manager of the winning team, Yusingo.

I will never understand why he wasn’t tossed for his antics.  It all started with a hit batter.  The batter did not try to get out of the way, and the ball barely grazed him.  I could hear it from my seat on top of the dugout.  He apparently did not think it hit him.  It was the strangest argument ever.  He comes out and doesn’t say a word.  The umpire explains to him what happened.  Then the coach, still not having said anything to the umpire, talks to his catcher.  He then explodes and starts yelling at the umpire.

Then it really got interesting.  As he is arguing, he waves for his team to leave the field, which they do.  The entire time the assistant coach is trying to calm him down and get him back in the dugout.  This goes on for a few minutes, and the team is off the field near the dugout.  The manager then feels it is important for him to leave.  I thought he got tossed.  He grabbed his bag and slowly left the field.  Now the team resumes play, but it doesn’t stop here.  A few batters later a pitching change is needed, and low and behold he comes out to make the change.  He had walked through the maze underneath the stands back to the dugout.  This is when I realized he hadn’t been tossed.  This is all in the bottom of the 8th.

This wasn’t even the first time he argued.  Right as I came back from lunch he was in the face of the same umpire.  He had to be restrained by his assistant coach the entire time.  And it wouldn’t be his last hurrah.

In the bottom of the 9th, he marches out and walks to talk to the official scorer or someone in the press box area behind home plate.  The home plate umpire has had enough now, and they begin to yell at each other.  This stops down play for another 5 minutes or so.  Why he was upset, I don’t know, but he was becoming a human rain delay.  It was all so strange, and more so because he never got thrown out of the game.  If anyone did half of what he did here in the states, he would be tossed so quick his head would spin.

His team would wind up winning due to errors by the infield of the opposing team, who I thought was the better overall team.  It was a great game to watch with all the drama.  I only wish I knew everything that was said and why he was arguing the third time.  Box score is below.

[ daebunggi High School Baseball Championship]
2010-07-09 15:40 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 R
WIN Yusingo 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 2 2 6
Jejugo 1 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 4

I also got to test out my new camera which I really love using.  Below are a few pictures.  If you enjoy these, check out more at my flickr page.


Posted in Asia, Junior BaseballComments (0)

NL All-Star Voting


It’s that time of year again.  The Mid-Summer Classic is about to be upon us, so it’s time to take a look at who should be playing in Anaheim.  Today, I want to take a look at the senior circuit.

National League

Catcher – This position seems to be a little thin this year.  However, I feel Brian McCann is having the best year so far.

Brian McCann – Atlanta .258/8/30/.806 ops

First Base – As always, there is a lot of talent at 1B in the NL.  I find it hard to argue with Albert Pujols.  Pujols is simply the best hitter in the NL in many minds, and it’s hard to argue with it.  Despite a few other potential All-Stars here, I am going with Pujols.

Albert Pujols – St. Louis .302/15/50/.962 ops

Second Base – I really don’t see any other possible player here except Martin Prado.  Prado is playing out of this world so far.  Leading the league in hits and adding a little power and run production, Prado seems to be the easy choice here.

Martin Prado – Atlanta .340/7/31/.865 ops

Third Base – There are a few solid prospects here.  I am not sure Scott Rolen is getting his due, but I am going to go with David Wright.  With his added ability to steal a base, I think he comes out on top among the 3rd sackers.

David Wright – New York .291/12/55/.896 ops

Shortstop – Despite his lack of respect for his boss, I think Hanley Ramirez is the clear choice.  He is the real deal at shortstop with power, speed, and the ability to hit for average.

Hanley Ramirez – Florida .293/11/43/.878 ops

Outfield – I think the list of possible starters is at least 5 deep.  I am going to start off with Andre Ethier.  He is having a great season, and his upside is still yet to be seen fully. To round out the field I have teammates Ryan Braun and Corey Hart.  Both are having solid years.  Braun is one of the better hitters of his generation, and Hart is starting to come into his own with a great year so far.

Andre Ethier – Los Angeles .320/12/44/.965 ops

Ryan Braun – Milwaukee .310/10/46/.873 ops

Corey Hart – Milwaukee .268/18/53/.918 ops

Pitcher – I really don’t see any point in picking anybody other than Ubaldo Jimenez.  His numbers are amazing this year.  Throw in a no-hitter, and he is the clear choice.

Ubaldo Jimenez – Colorado 13-1 /1.15 era / 1.00 whip

So what do you think?  Let me know who you think I missed, or overrated.

‘Till Next Time,

TBJM

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The Little Things


Sometimes it’s the little things in life that bring so much pleasure.  As I sit here on Wednesday night, it is nearing midnight.  I am trying to catch up on some things that have been put off for over a week now.  During that week and a half I have had the worst sinus infection of my life.  It took me 3 visits to doctors to get antibiotics, but now I have them and they are starting to work.

So I sit here after work watching the US soccer team struggle to make it to the round of 16, my head, throat, and teeth hurt from my sinus infection but I can’t help but crack a smile.  For today I got a package from home, and in it David Sunflower Seeds.

Now I know many of you might be thinking, what?  These little seeds of joy covered in salt will bring me great pleasure.  There is nothing like being at a game with a bag of seeds, and David makes the best.  I have been unable to find them here in Korea.  Yes, I have been told I might be able to find them in Seoul.  But I don’t live in Seoul.  So having a few bags to hold me over till the end of the year brings a big smile to my aching face.

Sometimes it’s the little things that bring so much pleasure.

TBJM

Next Up: My votes for the All-Star teams

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Kid Dynomite’s Debut


It was a spectacle in Washington on Tuesday night, and it lived up to the billing.  Unless you don’t follow baseball or have been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you’d know I am talking about Stephen Strasburg’s Major League debut.  Strasburg has been the talk of baseball since last years draft.

Strasburg quickly tore through the minor leagues putting up amazing numbers.  However, the Nationals waited till after June 1 to call up Strasburg to postpone arbitration for a year.  In 11 minor league starts (between AA and AAA) Strasburg was 7-2 with an era of 1.30.

In front of a standing room only crowd Tuesday night, Strasburg dazzled.  In 7 innings he struck out 14 and only allowed 2 runs.  His stuff was electric.  Fastballs over 100 mph to go along with devastating breaking balls.  It was quite the site.

I was really pleased to see this for Washington.  They have not had anything to cheer for in years.  This gets the league talking about them in a positive way.  Plus, it was nice to see a full crowd in Washington.  That doesn’t happen too often.  This is a must needed boost in the arm for the Nats.

It will be fun to watch him over the rest of the season, but don’t expect him to continue putting up numbers like he did Tuesday night.  I do expect him to put up solid numbers, but he is bound to have his ups and downs as all new pitchers do.

Stephen Strasburg AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

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Stories of Korean Baseball


I know Korean baseball doesn’t get much air time in the states.  In fact, other than the hardcore fan who might watch the WBC or Olympics (back when it was a sport) most may not know that Korea has a professional league.  They also might not know that the play in the league is quite good.  There are some solid players in the league including many ex MLB players.

With all of that said, there really aren’t that many websites that cover the KBO on a daily basis.  The one I have found is True Stories of Korean Baseball.  There is a lot of good information to be found here.  With daily updates on games, weekly power rankings, and other news to report, Matthew does a  great job keeping everyone updated on what’s going on in the KBO.  You can also find Matthew following the Lotte Giants of Busan.  He writes articles for Busan Haps, an English language magazine.  There he is following the Giants and their manager Jerry Royster (former MLB player).

So give it a look and check out what goes on what’s happening on the Korean baseball front.

Posted in KBOComments (0)

Manic Monday – Walk Off Brawl?


I have seen walk off home runs, walk off walks, walk off passed balls, you name it and I have seen it, except this.  In a Memorial Day Single-A game between the Bakersfield Blaze and the Visalia Rawhide, the game erupted in a donnybrook.

With the game tied 1-1 in the 10th inning, Engel Beltre (a Texas Ranger prospect) hits a walk off home run to right field.  This marked the start of a one minute seven second trot around the bases.  As he nears 3rd base, he begins jawing with some of the unhappy Rawhide players.  A full on fight breaks out before he can touch home plate.  It didn’t seem as though Beltre was as interested in scoring as he was in participating in the fight.  The video is below.

Beltre finally finishes his romp around the bases with a one finger salute to the Rawhide team as he touches home.  Beltre was acquired in the Eric Gagne deal from Boston in 2007.  Seven players have been suspended for the altercation, including a 5 game stint for Beltre.

Posted in MiLB, Manic Monday, VideosComments (0)

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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