Tag Archive | "Fans"

The Good Side of Baseball Fans


I have seen baseball in a lot of places, and have seen good and bad fans. However, the bad ones seem to stand out more than the good. I can understand fans that don’t like another team and/or player for that matter. I have a lot of teams I can’t root for. But the one thing I can’t stand is an ignorant fan.

I’ve seen lots of them, and I don’t think I am the most knowledgeable fan out there. But I have seen a few things in the past few days that has reminded me there are good knowledgeable fans out there.

First of all, Josh Hamilton had an amazing night in Baltimore. He did what only 15 other players before him had done which was hit 4 home runs in a single game. It’s an amazing feat. The thing that stood out the most, even more so than Hamilton’s historic night, was the fan’s reaction in Baltimore. Despite a player tearing up their team with long ball after long ball, the fans recognized the greatness in the feat and gave Hamilton a standing ovation. It was a thing of beauty.

Secondly, what happened next was a little more expected. Chipper Jones is making the rounds one last time having announced his retirement after the season. Each place he goes he is honored in one way or another. However, before the start of the first game Friday night another number 10 was honored as former Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa’s number was retired.

Then as Chipper came to bat in the first inning, he received a standing ovation from the crowd. This isn’t a former Cardinals great making one last trip. It’s a player who has been a foe for many years, yet the fans in St. Louis still acknowledged the fact that this was his last trip through. This wouldn’t be the case for just any player, but they see the Hall of Fame worthiness of Chipper and what he has done for baseball in Atlanta. Some say that the Cardinals’ fans are the best in the game. To me this only reinforced that idea.

My hats off to the fans of Baltimore and St. Louis. It is nice to see there are some great fans out there when all too often all we hear about is the booing of fans.

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Why Do You Like Baseball?


Not long ago someone asked me why I liked baseball. This person is not a fan. In fact, they are not even from a country that plays baseball so they don’t fully understand the game.

All I could come up with on short notice was “everything”.

I really do love everything about this game – the sounds, the smells, the feeling of a cool breeze on a hot summer’s night – the list goes on and on.

Besides the smell of hot dogs and fresh cut grass, there is so much to love about the game.

Some people say it’s too slow and it takes forever to finish. But I say to them that baseball is a talking sport. The periods between plays gives you time to talk about the game – to talk about what has happened, what might happen, what has happened in past games in similar situations, and so much more. In my opinion, you can’t have enough baseball and being at the park for “free” baseball (extra innings) is one of life’s little pleasures.

I love the game within the game. This is one thing that I have always loved and one reason I think that I have always wanted to be a coach. The chess match that managers play with match ups is exciting. I even love watching the fielders move between batters to see how they play one hitter to pull and the next straight up or as a slap hitter. Even the slightest movement of the middle infielders to get into position for a double play are things that I love watching for.

Then you add in the ballet at the bases with runners and balls arriving at the same time. Some of the greatest enjoyment of a game is before the game watching the middle infielders practice turning two during BP. Watching their footwork around the bag is amazing and they do it with such ease. Having tried to do the same thing they are doing only helps me appreciate it just a little bit more knowing how difficult it is.

It has been said many times that the hardest thing to do in sports is hit a round ball square with a round bat. When they do it and you hear the crack of a bat, it’s a great moment. Now add in that that ball is coming at you at speeds upwards of 100mph with movement and the feat of hitting a ball becomes even more impressive.

I love the non-verbal interactions that are going on at all times. It’s not just between catcher and pitcher or hitter and third base coach but its all over the field. Infielders are communicating with each other. Coaches are communicating with fielders and other coaches. It’s a whirlwind of signs going on at all times.

I think I could go on and on about the different things that I love about the game. Come to think of it, I can’t think of anything I don’t like about the game.

No matter who you root for, they don’t let you down. As Jimmy Fallon said in Fever Pitch:

They’re here. Every April, they’re here. At 1:05 or at 7:05, there is a game. And if it gets rained out, guess what? They make it up to you. Does anyone else in your life do that? The Red Sox don’t get divorced. This is a real family. This is the family that’s here for you. ”

It doesn’t matter if it’s the Red Sox, Cubs, or Rangers. No matter who your team is, they are always there.

The measurements are perfect. How they came up with 90 feet was a stroke of genius. No matter where you go the game is the same, yet different. Each field has its own unique character unlike many other sports where the fields are always the exact same size. The uniqueness of places like Fenway Park or Wrigley leads to added greatness.

Then there are the rivalries, the tradition, the drama, the legends, the stories, the comparisons of old and new players, and so much more.

So tell me, what do you like baseball?

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How much of a lesh should mouthy fans of teams like KC be given if any?


Does not winning for a decade or two allow a team’s fans to have an outburst against another team’s fan with no recourse?

I got a sarcastic and ill meaning tweet from a Royals fan last week after I posted jokingly that all the Rangers needed for a slumpbuster was to see some KC pitching.

Now I have nothing against the Royals. I would love to see them competative again since it has been a long time. I am even a fan of many of their players, but after I got a “Welcome to 12 wins” tweet I responded.

After the Rangers swept the Royals, I tweeted back, “Welcome to the sweep – How are those 12 wins STILL working for you?” Sure maybe a little harsh but I certainly didn’t need some KC fan telling me off when I meant no harm. I would have said the same thing with any team since the Rangers had put up 11 runs after a hard series loss against LA.

His reply – The 26 year playoff drought rule clearly states “All boastful outbursts by Royals fan must not be met with malice or spite”

Now neither of us meant harm, and I am certainly not upset, but I wonder how much losing relieves a fan of being the target after a boastful outburst?

To me, if you can dish it out you need to be able to handle the backlash. So how much of a lesh should mouthy fans of teams like KC be given if any?

Thoughts?

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Minor League Games vs MLB Games


I love baseball. It’s been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. I grew up cheering for Dale Murphy and the Atlanta Braves courtesy of TBS, and was hurt the day he was traded to Philly for Jeff Parrett. I celebrated in 1991 when we downed Pitt in the NLCS to make it to the World Series. It was the first time I had ever been able to cheer for “my” team in October, and I still hold a grudge against Lonnie Smith. Yes I know this year will be 20 years and its not good to hold grudges, but come on he should have scored on that double by Pendleton.

Anyway, I am going to get way too far off track if I continue down that road. My point is I love baseball and I love MLB. But there is something I would rather attend if given the chance and that is minor league baseball.

I will watch ANY baseball on TV which might make me a little strange to some. I can remember watching the Silver Bullets play on TV (yep that girls team). I watch Korean baseball all the time with no sound. I hate to miss the Little League World Series and I will watch any and all baseball I find on television. But going to a game, I think I have come to like minor league baseball the best.

The stadiums in MLB are the best in the world, but it has gotten so expensive that it is becoming unafordable for most families. If you are able to score tickets at a good price, it will be in the upper deck where you feel a mile away from the game. However, for the price of that upper deck ticket, and in many cases less, you can attend a minor league game and be close to the action.

Sure you give up watching the best players in the world, but the only difference in the players in the minors from the majors is consistancy. There are some really talented young players in the minors, and talented or not they are busting their hump because they know if they don’t tomorrow they won’t have a job. They are hungry to get to the next level. They hustle. When was the last time you saw a star in the majors hustle when he didn’t have to?

The best thing, besides the typical low cost, is being close to the players. I have been to a few games where I was able to talk to players. One game we talked to the left fielder. In between innings we would ask him where he was from, how he liked the small town he played for, and so on. It was great. He was happy to talk to us, and he promised us a ball if he ever ended the inning with a fly ball. Later in the game when we left to get something to eat while he was at bat, he hit a home run right where we should have been standing and after we returned he wanted to know why we were gone for his big moment. It was great to get down to a personal level with a ballplayer. Just a side note, that player has since made it to the majors.

You will never be able to experience something like that at a MLB game. Sitting so close to the field that the players can hear you when you cheer is great. Getting excited and cheering when someone makes a great play only to have them look your way in acknowledgment that they heard you is an awesome thing. Plus its easy to cheer for someone who is not make a lot of money to play a kids game. They play hard, get paid little, and really do appreciate when you cheer for them. Do you think Aroid really cares if you cheer for him when he makes a play at third base. No, he is only concerned about his paycheck coming tomorrow.

Don’t get me wrong. I love MLB games. It is the highest level of the game anywhere in the world. But when push comes to shove, minor league games give you so much more bang for your buck that they are not to be overlooked. After all imagine how many people will have memories of seeing players like Pujols, Jeter, or Chipper Jones when they were young and in the minors. The player that took the time to talk to us that night in left field might not be a superstar in the majors, but he’ll be a superstar to me for the time we shared and his kindness.

So what do you think, minors or majors?

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Interview: Passionate Baseball Fan from Korea – Kihoon Jung


The one thing I have learned watching baseball in Korea is the fans are passionate. It is a great thing to watch, especially coming from a place where most fans are fair weather fans only coming out when the team is winning. Thanks to things like Facebook and Twitter, I have been able to meet more and more baseball fans including some in Korea. So when I had the chance to sit down and ask some questions to a new friend of mine in Korea, I jumped at the chance. I really want to thank Kihoon for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions so we can better understand the baseball culture in Korea.

About Me.
My name is Kihoon and 29 years old. I am from Pusan and now working at Doosan magazine Digital Innovation team. I am sport mania. Baseball & Basketball are my all time favorites. I used to be a Intern basketball journalist during undergraduate years.

How long have you followed baseball in Korea?
Since Forever. I was born in Pusan, Mecca of baseball in Korea, in 1981 and Korean Professional league was launched the next year. My father used to play baseball at his company and loved to take me Giants games when I was young. I grew up playing and watching baseball games since I was a child. It has been over 20 years now. All of these led me be a huge fan of baseball.

What is your favorite team? Why?
Since I was born in Pusan, I was born to be a fan of my home town team Lotte Giants. It is a Korea professional team in Pusan, Korea and one of the most beloved teams in Korea as well. I used to be a Giants youth club member and have supported them for a long time. Trading is not common yet in Korean League and Many pro players are playing for their region team. It means that many of Giants players are from Pusan and that make fans give them more emotion. They are more like our friends and neighbors. Other teams are the same. I believe basically it stems from unique *KBO Draft system which changed since 2009 and Korean culture. Along with Samsung Lions in Daegu, Lotte Giants is one of only 2 teams that never changed their team name since Korean pro-league established. They won the championship 2 times in club history, 1984 and 1992. After a long Dark ages in early 2000, they are becoming champion-caliber team again by making 3 consecutive play-off appearance.(2008~2010). In addition to this, I am looking for my favorite MLB team. I have thought of Cubs, Red sox, Rangers, Indians. I heard that Cubs and Red sox are really popular team in US and known for devoted fans and tradition. I personally like the State of Texas.

Last year I supported Indians cause Shin-soo Choo is playing for them. These teams are in my boundary.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6djJhOOwTVA&feature=related (1992 Korean Series)

*KBO draft

With 1st pick, all teams have priority over their region until 2008 regardless of their rank in previous season. This system encouraged teams to support school teams in their region. But many experts pointed out that this system was advantageous to Kwangju, Seoul, Pusan teams since they have more top tier teams in their farm. Thus, Draft system has been changed from 2009. It is now overall draft like US. Draft system is still controversial issue.

What is your greatest memory of baseball?
If I have to pick a single game in particular, That would be 1999 KBO Play-off series game 7 between Lions and Giants. Giants dramatically got over 1-3 series to 3-3. The Game 7 was really close and heated until until the end of it. Giants broke the tie and won 6-5 in the 11th inning.  The game still remain as one of the most incredible match in Korean play-off history.

I uploaded a highlight clip here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JG3FZ0WTdXw

Every single game between huge east rivalry Korea and Japan is always fun to watch. 2009 WBC final, Semi final in 2008 Olympic, 2005 WBC tournament.

What team would you say has the most passionate fans in Korea?
The Giants have the most passionate fans in Korea. In fact, they are a little bit crazy sometimes. The Giants have the attendance record for a single season (1.38 million) in KBO and they gathered more than 1 million attendances 3 years in a row from 2008. For your information, the total attendance number of KBO in 2010 was 5.92million. Giants fan have lots of unique and dynamic cheering repertories and they are overwhelming than other team`s Among them, two songs, “Pusan Sea gull” , “Please come back to Pusan port” are famous and wearing orange plastic bag, shaking newspaper are also unique stuff. There ia a documentary movie about Lotte Giants (2009) named “I am a sea gull” I will send you if you want. Besides Giants, Kia tigers also have very enthusiastic fans. The 2 big market teams in Seoul, LG twins and Doosan Bears are popular team too.

Lotte

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3q9F3A2bTc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9321dLW69Y&feature=fvw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vscBjrpXhM&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pj9NVo-4iKc&feature=fvw

Do you follow baseball in Japan or the USA?
I think I am pretty much involved in MLB baseball. Since Chan-ho Park became the first Korean major league player, I have watched MLB games in Korea sometimes. Every one of Chan-ho`s games were available and also I was able to see Mariners games through NHK. I really like some dynamic Latin keystone players like Furcal, Reyes, Cora. They please my eyes. I check news articles and highlight clip on MLB web site on a daily base now. It is one of ways to study English for me. I enjoyed watching the World Series this season, too. Compared to USA, I have not experienced much about Japanese baseball. I only check Korean player`s news. There are 4 Korean players in NPB now. I have a good personal impression on Japanese baseball, though. I have traveled in Japan a few years ago and pleasantly surprised about their baseball facilities. Lots of baseball fields were readily available. I could easily see many people playing baseball. When I visited Osaka, neon signs of Hanshin tigers, one of the most popular Japanese Professional team were everywhere. I heard that Hanshin is also known as crazy fans. Their traditional home stadium is very famous. I hope to venture out there!

How do you feel the baseball in Korea compares to Japan or the USA?
Regarding Pro-league game, Korea baseball game is more intense than US from my perspective. It is probably because only 8 teams are competing and they know each other well. They tend to use detailed tactics based on detailed analysis data. Lots of substitutions as well. Trade is not that common in Korea. It is becoming more frequent but not as much as US yet. Given the fact that Trade is not that common and only 8 teams are in the league, it would be relatively easy to analyze other teams and use them in games.  On the other hand, US players play based on their superb athleticism and very aggressively. There are a lot of back and forth between Major league and Triple A. It makes it hard to analyze other teams, I think. It seems like they tend to cover their weak positions by trading rather than developing their farm youth players. I think Korea and Us have different view on their rookie level players. Korean team think  “I bought my boy. I will teach and develop you to explode your potential. Pay me back later” US team think “I paid for you. Now you have to show me”  US has deep resource pool thus they don`t need to wait and be patient. Since late 1990` some potential Korean player challenged to Major league but nearly all of them were failed. They had to manage everything by themselves and didn`t have many opportunities. If they had been more cared for or coached, some of them might have been successful. Japanese baseball is similar with Korean style. Their analysis tool is  much more sophisticated. Aside from Pro-league, US and Japan has more deep and extended baseball base than Korea. For example, Korea has only 60 or even less high school teams while Japan has nearly 4,000. US is needless to say.

What about the fans, how do they compare?
It seems to me that US people just enjoy game individually and more stay focus on the field. Maybe they respect other`s privacy and try not to disturb others. I think there may be more family unit fans and season members. Still, they are enthusiastic. They are more straight forward and even shout jeers at their players sometimes. That surprised me. On the other hand, Korean fans really like cheering together. Every team in Korea has cheer leader and they lead. If you want to just watch baseball game, it might be distracting sometimes but cheering is fascinating stuff that bring you to the stadium. I saw some people who barely know about baseball go to baseball game just for cheering and enjoying the atmosphere Its like NCAA basketball game. You stand up and shout, sing, dance, jeering whole throughout a game. Some people say that it is a party. One noticeable recent issue is that many young female fans are increasing. Japan is like to be about between them. They have both. As far as I know, If you want to be part of group cheering, you can go to outfield area. If you want to stay focus on game, you can do that in infield area. Whenever I watch Japanese baseball game, there were many old people and individual fans in infield seat and Group cheering was in outfield area.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6REyXnCGdJA Hanshin tigers cheering

I know you play on a team in Seoul.  How long have you played?
I play for 2 teams now. I moved up to Seoul for my job in 2008 and I started to play at my company team, Doozins. Some Staffs who love baseball gathered team members and established a team in 2007. Our Senior executives are really supportive. We play at single A level league near Seoul and reached the play-offs this season. It was the first time! I also found another team ‘Khazon’ (Hope in Hebrew) near my neighborhood and have played with them for 1 year now. We have a team practice every Saturday preparing for League in next season. Obviously we have improved a lot and now are about the Double A level in Korea Social league. we are becoming well-organized team and I love to see the proceeding.

What are your thoughts on playing with foreigners?
Actually, a few weeks ago, one foreigner guy from US expressed his interest in playing baseball in Korea and ask if there is a space for him. For me, it would be quite interesting having foreigners in my team. There may be some communication problem sometimes but it really doesn`t matter. You know, baseball is our language. No matter where they are from, they can be part of our team as long as they love baseball and sincerely participate in team activities. In the field, playing with foreigners would not make any huge difference. Beside, playing together, we can be also good friends and share some cultural background of Baseball sitting down over a bottle of beer. That’s something pretty cool I think.  I have a one female who is devoted fan of Braves. She did part-time work at Yankees farm before and told me many stories about her baseball experiences. She told me that Cheering culture is really impressive here and few teams have cheer leader in State. She also told me that she miss the big sound of Drum and Band in Turner field. I want to be there one day, too!!

Do you model your game after anyone?
Ichiro Suzuki of Seattle Mariners.  I think he is setting  such a good role model for non-power Asian players. He is like a Cartoon Character for me. He is really smart. I never have seen any bone head play from him. I believe it stems from good fundamentalism, his high level of intensity on a game and Professionalism.  We got some common things too. We are lead-off hitter, Left handed hitter, right handed pitcher, and skinny contact hitter. He is truly a multi-talented player. I mean he has everything. I have seen some people who underrate him by his look and nationality saying that he is selfish and a bad-ball hitter. However, I must say this, all the records he got so far simply demonstrates how great he is as a ball player. I wish we could have that kind of player in Korea, too.

How serious would you say people take baseball in Korea both playing and watching?
Among Pro sports, Baseball is the most popular sports in Korea. I think it is becoming national sports. Baseball is consistently loved regardless of social class and it is going to be the same way in the future. Especially, WBC boosted baseball in Korea again and people not only just watch baseball but also start to play. Many new social leagues have been established recently and it is close to impossible to secure baseball field for new teams. Joining league become really competitive. In my case, the entry fee was raised by nearly 30% this season but it was filled.

I want to thank Kihoon for taking time out of his busy schedule.  Not only did he come through with amazing information, but he did it in a 2nd language (quite well too). It’s fans like this that I want to meet across the world.  People who love the game, want to spread the greatness of the game, but also have a love and respect for the history of the game. Thanks again Kihoon, and I can’t wait till I get back to Korea so we can sit down and talk baseball face to face.

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World Series: Texas Rangers vs San Francisco Giants


The Texas Rangers will square off with the San Francisco Giants in the World Series this year.  I think it is safe to say that nobody saw this match up earlier this year.  Both teams are relatively big surprises to be in the Series, but on the other hand they aren’t.  They both have what it takes to win in the postseason and that is pitching.

The San Francisco Giants have a dynamic due on the hill of Time Lincecum (16-10/3.43 ERA) and Matt Cain 13-11/3.14 ERA).  Add in Johnathan Sanchez (13-9/3.07 ERA) and you have a formidable rotation for the postseason.  Not to mention perhaps the best reliever in the NL in Brian Wilson (48 saves/1.81 ERA) coming out of the bullpen. The Giants led the NL in ERA and were 4th in WHIP.

The Rangers have their stars on the hill as well.  First of all, everyone knows Cliff Lee and how dominant he has been in the postseason through his career (7-0/1.26 ERA), and this year has been no different.  Following Lee is former closer CJ Wilson (15-8/3.35 ERA) and Colby Lewis (12-13/3.72 ERA). The Rangers have a formidable pen as well with Neftali Feliz (40 saves/2.73 ERA) closing, and the Darren’s to set him up – O’Day and Oliver.

Where I think the Rangers have the advantage is on the offensive side of the ball. The Giants have some solid hitters. Buster Posey (.305/18/67), the likely NL ROY, Aubrey Huff (.290/26/86), and Pat Burrell (.266/18/51).  But the Rangers have potential MVP Josh Hamilton (.359/32/100), Vlad Guerrero (.300/29/115), and Michael Young (.284/21/91).  The Rangers still have power, but they have added speed as well stealing 123 bases to the Giant’s 55.

One thing we know is its gonna be a heck of a series. I don’t think either team sweeps, but I do think the Rangers win in 6. The Rangers are simply riding a franchise high. They have never been to this point in the season, and I think they will help propel them forward. This franchise has never been the talk of the town in Dallas, and now they are the toast of the town. The excitement they have created in Dallas is incredible, and I think the team is feeding off of that excitement the fans are showing. Not to say the Giants and their fans aren’t excited, but they have been there before.  This was the first year the Rangers even won a postseason series, let alone been to the World Series. A lot of people might look at that and see it as a negative, but I see it as a positive motivator that will help the Rangers.  They have a few of their stars that have been there and who know what it takes to win at this level.

So I stand by my prediction – Rangers in 6.

Of course, my last WS prediction of the year didn’t turn out too good, but I have a better feeling about this one.

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Get Your Own Antlers Ranger Fans


Chevrolet and Chevy Texas Baseball have brought Ranger fans an interesting site.  AntlerYourself.com allows Ranger fans to upload pictures of themselves and then post antlers on yourself.  It’s a great concept that I know a lot of Ranger fans are going to jump onto.  The antlers and claws have really taken over in Arlington and rightfully so.  If you want a picture of yourself, head on over to AntlerYourself.com.  I’d be interested in seeing some. I did a photo of myself.  You can see it below.  If you do one, send me a link so I can post it here.

Get Your Own Antlers at AntlerYourself.com

Chris Wilson from FreshPeel.com pointed this site out to me.  Thanks Chris.

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Daejeon – Hanwha Eagles and Daejeon Baseball Stadium


Daejeon Baseball Stadium, home of the Hanwha Eagles, was the last stadium for me to see in Korea.  It is also the closest to Daegu so I kept putting it off.  So Sunday September 26th, I decided to head up and see the final game of the season with the home team Hanwha Eagles squaring off with the Kia Tigers.

Daejeon Baseball Stadium is another older stadium in the KBO.  I am not sure of the year it was built, but I am guessing at least the early 1980s.  It holds just over 13,000 fans and is different in one aspect from most stadiums I have been to. The concession stands are not in a concourse but out among the seats, so if you are getting a drink you can still see the action.  It is a typical KBO stadium in that it has a lot of uncomfortable plastic seats and a lot of concrete.

Daejeon Baseball Stadium

Daejeon Baseball Stadium

Daejeon Baseball Stadium

Daejeon Baseball Stadium

I was surprised with how many people showed up for the final game of the season, especially since both teams are near the bottom of the standings with Hanwha being in last.  It was a beautiful Sunday evening, and a lot of people showed up for the game which gave it a great atmosphere.

Daejeon Baseball Stadium

Daejeon Baseball Stadium

Hanwha got off to a great start with 2 home runs in the first 2 innings, and after 2 innings they led 4-2.  The game got a little more interesting when early on a fly ball was hit to left field.  The left fielder took a bad route and wound up diving, but the he over ran the ball and it dropped.  I had a great view sitting down the left field line, and I could easily see how he overran the ball.  A few pitches later, he was replaced mid-inning.  That is not something that is seen very often, but he was pulled for another fielder.

Another interesting note was how the pitcher at one point threw over to first base at least 10 times while only throwing 2 pitches to the hitter.  If that happens in the US, fans are booing nonstop.  There wasn’t a word said while he was doing it. I didn’t hear any boos until the Kia runner was eventually picked off, and the Kia fans let him have it.

It was a lot of fun.  Hanwha won big 11-3.  I saw 2 home runs, some great defense, and the fans were amazing. I even got to see the wave done for the first time in Korea.  I love the wave back home.  I don’t really know why. I think it stems from being a child and going to MLB games where they would do it and having so much fun then.  When I am at a game now I am still like a little kid.

Daejeon Baseball Stadium

Daejeon Baseball Stadium

The stadium itself was uneventful, but I am glad I got to see it. It doesn’t rate at the worst, but its not near the top either. Soon I will be ranking the stadiums in Korea.

‘Till then,

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Gwangju – Kia Tigers and Moodeung Stadium


Last week I was able to take off a day from work and head over to Gwangju to see the home of the Kia Tigers.  This was one of 2 stadiums I had yet to see in Korea with the other one being the stadium in Daejeon, home of the Hanwha Eagles.

Kia plays at Moodeung Stadium in Gwangju.  The stadium was built in 1961 and seats just under 14,000 fans.

The bus ride to Gwangju from Daegu is a long one.  This was the main reason why I had put it off for so long.  I headed over to Seobu Bus Terminal to catch the 10:40 bus not knowing that it was going to take me over 4 hours.  The ride was slow since it was a long drive through the mountains and hills.  It was a beautiful drive however with green rolling hills and small villages along the way.  I got a nap here and there which was nice and arrived in Gwangju around 3pm.  The game didn’t start till 6:30 so I grabbed some lunch before hopping into a cab.

I got to the stadium around 3 hours before game time.  Typically the gates don’t open until 2 hours prior, so I wondered around the stadium to check out the surroundings.  There wasn’t a lot to see.  Next to the baseball stadium is an old track stadium where some younger kids were practicing.  Other than that I watched some Korean guys play catch with a ball as one tried pitching to the other off of a mound outside the stadium.

Finally it was time to head into the stadium.  It was a Thursday afternoon and Kia is way out of the playoff race so there were very few fans there early.  I had the chance to walk around most of the stadium to take some photos, but I was not able to get right behind home plate.  There are two main sections of the stadium.  Most of the stadium, maybe 95%, is general admission while the other 5%, which is right behind home plate, is reserved and requires you to enter via a certain entrance outside.  With only a general admission ticket, I had to settle with walking the rest of the stadium.

It’s a small stadium and very old.  Without a doubt it is the worst professional stadium I have ever seen anywhere.  It is an old concrete monstrosity with seats falling apart and no sign of anything being upgraded in the past 30 years.  Given that, it is a small stadium so every seat in the house has a good view of the game.

Moodeung Stadium Kia Tigers

Moodeung Stadium home of the Kia Tigers

Moodeung Stadium Kia Tigers

Moodeung Stadium home of the Kia Tigers

Moodeung Stadium Kia Tigers

Moodeung Stadium home of the Kia Tigers

The game itself wasn’t very exciting as the visiting Samsung Lions won easily against the defending champion Tigers.  Kia looks nothing like they did a year ago when they won the title, but I think that has a lot to do with injuries and players not performing like they did a year ago.  Samsung on the other hand looked good.  I got to see former MLB pitcher Tim Redding pitch for the Lions.  He started off bad with the first pitch being hit for a triple, but he settled down after that and pitched well.

Prior to the start of the game, I got the chance to walk around and get a feel for the stadium.  During batting practice there were 2 young kids out getting home run and foul balls.  I found 3 myself which goes to show there weren’t many people out to get the balls.  I gave 2 to the boys and kept 1 for a souvenir.  The boys wound up with around a dozen balls when it was all said and done.  They also got a few autographs.  They asked me a few times for a pen so someone could sign a ball.  They wanted a sharpie at one point so they could get their glove autographed, and I felt bad that I didn’t have one in my bag.  I’ll have to add one to my bag for next year.  They found one somewhere because they both had their gloves autographed when I saw them later.  They were very polite and gracious for the balls I gave them, even though they already had quite a few.

Moodeung Stadium Kia Tigers

One of the boys getting the home run balls.

Moodeung Stadium Kia Tigers

One of the boys getting the home run balls.

As the game began, a few Korean guys out in the outfield asked me to watch the game with them.  So I did.  They were very polite and happy to be watching the game with a foreigner.  One spoke very good English, but the other did not so he would ask his friend to ask me questions about MLB teams and players.  He was very happy that I was a Braves and Rangers fan because he was too.

It was a lot of fun watching the game with them.  They were very vocal and were really into the cheers and chants for the hometown Tigers.  I cheered for the Tigers with them, even though they knew my favorite team was Samsung.  At one point, a group of fans sitting to our left, a section or two over, left early and had some food to spare so they gave it to us.  I was told we were given the food because we were cheering the loudest.  I think it had more to do with the fact that nobody else was around.

Moodeung Stadium Kia Tigers

The two guys I watched the game with

Korean Food Jokbal - Pigs Feet

Korean Jokbal

The food was delicious, but it wasn’t what I was expecting.  The opened up the container and we all dug in.  I could tell it was a pork product with some spicy dipping sauce.  I had a few bites and then tried to pick up a piece that was quite big.  Then I noticed it.  We were eating pig’s feet. Here they eat what amounts to the foot and shin.  The shin part has some good meat on it and that is generally what is eaten.  I was a little turned off to find the whole feet in the package however, but was grateful for the generosity of everyone.

The game was fun.  The stadium was a piece of crap, but all in all I had a great time.  I was glad I got to see the place, but I don’t plan on going back anytime soon.

With that stadium visited, I have one left to go to see all 7 in Korea.  I hope to change that tomorrow after visiting Daejeon for the final game of the season there.  I’ll be back early next week to tell you about my trip there, and then I will break down each of the stadiums.

Posted in KBO, StadiumsComments (5)

Open Letter to Chipper Jones


Dear Mr. Jones,

I have been a fan of the Atlanta Braves and you since I can remember.  I grew up watching the Braves in the 80’s when winning seemed as distant as landing on Mars,  but I persevered and I hope you can too.  I was the laughing stock in school for wearing my Braves hat, but that all changed in 1991.  All of a sudden there were Atlanta fans everywhere, and  I will be a fan until the good Lord takes me from this Earth.  I live and die every October with the rise and fall of the Braves, but I have to say it has been a wonderful ride.

I am writing to tell you why I, as a huge Braves fan, hopes you can also persevere and make it back for one more season. I understand me waiting year to year for a World Series is much easier than you recovering from knee surgery to make it back to the grueling schedule of 162 games.  But please hear me out as to why not only I want you to come back next year, but why Braves fans needs you back for one more year.

The Braves has seen some great players come along through its history.  The great Hammerin’ Hank, Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn, Dale Murphy, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and one Larry Wayne Jones.  But the Braves have never had one of their great players go out as a Brave on a high note.  Hank Aaron went on to play with Milwaukee again (but this time as a Brewer) at the end of his career. Eddie Mathews ended his career in Detroit after playing for Houston.  Dale Murphy was traded to Philadelphia and finished his playing days in Colorado.  Greg Maddux finished up his days with the Dodgers and Padres.  John Smoltz played with Boston and St. Louis, and while Tom Glavine officially finished his career with Atlanta, it wasn’t the farewell tour everyone had hoped it would be since it was marred with injuries.

The Braves have not had one of their own Hall of Fame worthy stars end a season healthy as an Atlanta Brave.  I can remember everyone being excited about this Jones kid the Braves drafted in 1990.  I recall the excitement of getting your rookie baseball cards and thinking one day this will be the guy to take us to the World Series.  Little did I know it would be so soon.  I have so many fond memories of you playing with Atlanta; and I, like millions of others, don’t want my last memory of you playing being of you hurting your knee.

The one thing I have learned over the years watching you play is that there is no quit in you.  I was glad to see you said you were coming back to spring training next year.  One of my favorite memories from baseball was watching Cal Ripken Jr. play his last game in Texas at the Ballpark in Arlington in 2001.  It was nice to see such a great player make a farewell tour of stadiums.  He was able to dictate his own terms of leaving the game, and like Cal did everything, he did it with grace and a flair unlike any other.  I just hope the fans all around the country get that same memory with you.

Sincerely,

Eric – A Braves fan in South Korea via Texas – The Baseball Journeyman

Posted in MLBComments (1)

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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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