Tag Archive | "Lotte Giants"

2012 MLB Predictions


The 2012 MLB season starts in less than 24 hours for most teams. With the rosters set, I’d thought I’d take a stab at who will win what this year. I probably won’t get close, but it’s always fun to predict and see how far off you came.

NL East – You can see a more detailed explanation here.
1.Philadelphia Phillies 96-66
2.Atlanta Braves 90-72
3. Washington Nationals 87-75
4. Miami Marlins 72-90
5. New York Mets 68-94

NL West
1. Arizona Diamondbacks 91-71
2. Los Angeles Dodgers 85-77
3. San Francisco Giants 80-82
4. Colorado Rockies 80-82
5. San Diego Padres 65-97

NL Central
1. Cincinnati Reds 90-72
2. St. Louis Cardinals 87-75
3. Milwaukee Brewers 84-78
4. Pittsburgh Pirates 76-86
5. Chicago Cubs 75-87
6. Houston Astros 61-101

AL East
1. New York Yankees 97-65
2. Tampa Bay Rays 91-71
3. Boston Red Sox 85-79
4. Toronto Blue Jays 82-82
5. Baltimore Orioles 70-92

AL West
1. Texas Rangers 95-67
2. Anaheim Angels 90-72
3. Seattle Mariners 84-78
4. Oakland A’s 70-92

AL Central
1. Detroit Tigers 98-64
2. Cleveland Indians 85-77
3. Kansas City Royals 84-78
4. Chicago WhiteSox 68-94
5. Minnesota Twins 65-97

Playoffs

NL WC Playoff Atlanta def St. Louis

NLDS Philadelphia def Atlanta 3-1

NLDS Arizona def Cincinnati 3-1

NLCS Arizona def Philadelphia 4-2

AL WC Tampa Bay def Anaheim

ALDS Tampa Bay def Detroit 3-2

ALDS Texas def New York 3-1

ALCS Texas def Tampa Bay 4-2

2012 World Series Texas Rangers def Arizona Diamondbacks 4-0

I just have the feeling the Rangers will be back with a vengeance this year and will accomplish what they have never done before. Who knows what will happen, but I know it will be fun watching it all unfold.

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Baseball Weekend in Seoul


Friday night I headed up to Seoul for a baseball filled Saturday. I had met my friend Kihoon Jung via Twitter and Facebook about a year ago, but I never had the opportunity to meet him in person until this weekend. The plan was to see Kihoon play in 2 games with 2 different teams early in the morning. Then the two of us were going to head to Jamsil Baseball Stadium to see the Doosan Bears and Lotte Giants play.

Early Saturday morning we headed out to Kihoon’s first baseball game of the day. We left before 6am since the game started at 6:30. It had rained a bit the night before, but the rain had left by morning. It remained cool and cloudy, but turned out to be a good day for a game. It wasn’t that great for taking photos though with the low light. I had brought my camera to take some action photos of the guys playing.

Game 1 was a lot of fun. Kihoon was playing with his company team from Doosan, the Doozins. They had a pretty good team and were definitely better than their opposition from a bank. Soon it was evident that the game would not be close. I loved watching these guys play. You could see the love they had for the game, and everyone was very friendly to me as I took photos. Despite the low light, and my camera doesn’t do great with low light action shots, I felt I got a few good shots. Here are some photos of the guys playing hard and having fun.

Doozins Baseball

Kihoon Jung at bat for the Doozins

#22 "The Rocket" on the hill for the Doozins

Hitting the ball hard

The Doozins Baseball Team

Thanks to all the guys for making me feel right at home. Good luck the rest of the season.

Kihoon’s 2nd game got canceled. Too much rain fell the night before and the grounds were too wet to play. So we came up with alternative plans. After returning home, we went to a nearby middle school and played catch in the school yard. That was a lot of fun for me. I don’t get the chance to play catch often, so anytime I do get that chance I have to take it. Surprisingly my arm felt okay after throwing, and it felt good the next day as well.

We then decided to get cleaned up and head into town before the Doosan/Lotte game that night. We ventured around town a bit and I got to see some parts of Seoul that I hadn’t seen before which was nice. While walking around, Kihoon led us to some batting cages and we decided to take some swings. It was great. I love the batting cages here. They generally throw around 60-65 mph with the faster cages getting up to about 80 mph. I didn’t do too bad, but it was nice to get my first swings of the year. I have some cages nearby, but I have yet to venture over to them yet this year. I have to get over there soon and get in some more swings.

After a trip around town, we headed over to Jamsil Baseball Stadium for the Doosan Bears game against the Lotte Giants. Kihoon is originally from Busan, so he is a huge Giants fan. I had seen the Giants play in Busan last year, but I had never seen Doosan play before (they share Jamsil with the LG Twins). The two teams fans are some of the crazier and with a sold out game, it was going to be a great time. And it was.

The game turned out to be one of the best I have ever seen. Doosan jumped out early, but Lotte’s big bats soon bounced back to take a 6-3 lead. They pounded new Doosan starter Fernando Nieve in his first KBO start and ended his night early.  It was a back and forth game and got rough at the end cheering for the Giants. The Giants defense let them down late in the game. The shortstop made an error that led to an unearned run. Then up 1 late in the game, the Giants center fielders dove for a ball and just missed it. When the left fielder slipped backing up the play, the lead off batter wound up at 3rd with a triple. He soon scored to tie the game, and Doosan would eventually take a 7-6 lead into the 9th inning.

This is when it got interesting. The Bears didn’t immediately bring in their closer, and the Giants lead off hitter singled up the middle. Doosan then decided to bring in the closer to face the reigning triple crown winner Lee Dae-ho. Dae-ho is a beast. He had been beaned earlier in the game after driving one deep over the fence but foul. This at bat he kept it fair. He lined a home run over the left field fence for a 8-7 Giants lead in the top of the 9th. The crowd, half of who were Giants fans, went nuts. It was great. Why they decided to pitch to the biggest threat in the KBO I’ll never know, but I am glad they did.

The game was a thrilling one as the Giants came back and won the game, and I had an amazing time. I can’t wait to get back and see more baseball in Seoul, and I am really looking forward to getting back down to Busan to see more Giants games. They really do have the craziest fans, and I love it.

View from our seats in center field

The Giants version of a rally hat for fans?

Final Linescore

 

 

I had an amazing time in Seoul. Thanks to Kihoon for inviting me up to see some baseball.

 

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Game Souvenirs – What do you take home?


One of my favorite things to do is see a new stadium. I love taking in the atmosphere and views of each new one I visit. But I always try and take something away with me as well. In the past I have gotten hats, t-shirts, towels, and more for souvenirs. But until recently I have never thought about the simple souvenir that I had been collecting already, game tickets.

The problem with hats, t-shirts, and what not are that they are bulky and heavy when traveling. Ticket stubs however are small, light, and easy to keep track of. I kept a stub from each of the games I went to in Korea, and from now on I plan on keeping up with that trend.

What do you keep from new places you visit? I’d be interested in knowing what others keep so leave a comment and let me know.

Below are photos of my ticket stubs. One from each of the 7 stadiums in Korea.

Samsung Lions Ticket Stub

Samsung Lions Ticket Stub

LG Twins Ticket Stub

LG Twins Ticket Stub

NEXEN Heroes Ticket Stub

NEXEN Heroes Ticket Stub

Lotte Giants Ticket Stub

Lotte Giants Ticket Stub

Kia Tigers Ticket Stub

Kia Tigers Ticket Stub

SK Wyverns Ticket Stub

SK Wyverns Ticket Stub

Hanwha Eagles Ticket Stub

Hanwha Eagles Ticket Stub

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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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Best Baseball Stadiums in Korea


One of my goals this year was to see a game in all of the stadiums here in Korea.  There are 7 stadiums in the KBO.  Most of them are older and outdated.  The teams here are used more as marketing objects than money makers so little is put back into the stadiums.  I visited my last stadium after visiting Daejeon Baseball Stadium on the last day of the season.  After seeing the last stadium, I decided to rank the stadiums of the KBO.

Here are my rankings of the 7 in the league.

#7 Moodeung Stadium – Home of the Kia Tigers

Clearly the worst stadium is Moodeung Stadium in Gwangju, home of the Kia Tigers. The most successful team in KBO league history (10 championships) has not use any of that success to upgrade the ballpark. The seats are falling apart, the stadium is plain and ugly with everything made of concrete, and there is nothing aesthetically appealing about the stadium at all. But it doesn’t stop there. The concession choices are limited, and what they do have is not very good.

Moodeung Baseball Stadium Kia Tigers

Moodeung Baseball Stadium - Home of the Kia Tigers

#6 Daegu Baseball Stadium – Home of the Samsung Lions

Daegu Baseball Stadium is only a slight step up from Moodeung. Again a concrete monstrocity, the stadium is crammed with little room to move around with narrow isles. The seats are old and uncomfortable, and the food that is offered is not very good. When going to a game here bring in your own food. The only positive that can be pulled form this stadium is the atmosphere. With so many fanatical fans, the stadium can be rocking when full, but that is league wide and not specific to Daegu.

Daegu Baseball Stadium Samsung Lions

Daegu Baseball Stadium - Home of the Samsung Lions

#5 Daejeon Baseball Stadium – Home of the Hanwha Eagles

Another horrible stadium by American standards, Daejeon Baseball Stadium gets the nod over Daegu simply for their concessions being out among the stands instead of on a concourse away from the action. Again an old, run down place to watch a game with not a lot offered as far as food selection, the stadium could use a lot of work.

Daejeon Baseball Stadium Hanwha Eagles

Daejeon Baseball Stadium - Home of the Hanwha Eagles

#4 Jamsil Baseball Stadium – Home of the LG Twins and Doosan Bears

The only stadium shared by two teams, Jamsil was built in the early 80’s like most other stadiums in Korea. It hosted the 1988 Olympic Baseball Games and is situated next to Seoul Olympic Stadium. This is one of the bigger stadiums in the league holding over 30,000. It’s a nice place to see a game and reminds me a lot of the old cookie-cutter fields from the USA. The food selection is much better here with more choices inside and out of the stadium.

Jamsil Stadium LG Twins Doosan Bears

Jamsil Baseball Stadium - Home of the LG Twins and Doosan Bears

#3 Sajik Baseball Stadium – Home of the Lotte Giants

Sajik is also known as the Mecca for Korean Baseball. It is a nice stadium that really benefits from being in Busan on the coast. Many nights the air will get cooler and a nice breeze will blow in off the water, which makes the game a bit more enjoyable during summer. It is one of the bigger stadiums holding over 28,000 fans, and might be the most energetic stadium. The food selection is good with a lot of variety, the fans are phenomenal, and it’s just a great place to see a game.

Sajik Baseball Stadium Lotte Giants

Sajik Baseball Stadium - Home of the Lotte Giants

#2 Mokdong Baseball Stadium – Home of the NEXEN Heroes

I got a really good feeling when I visited Mokdong Stadium. It is in the middle of the pack as far as size holding around 18,000. I really enjoyed the stadium because I got the same feeling I did when I went to minor league games in the States in that I felt close to the game. There is no seating in the outfield so it forces you down the baselines where you get the feeling of being close to the players. The food selection was decent, and the fans were again very enthusiastic even for a losing team.

Mokdong Baseball Stadium NEXEN Heroes

Mokdong Baseball Stadium - Home of the NEXEN Heroes

#1 Munhak Stadium – Home of the SK Wyverns

Clearly in a class of its own, Munhak Stadium is a great place to watch a game. This is the only stadium in Korea that could come close to a Major League Stadium in America. Really the only thing it might lack is a lot of luxury boxes. It would make a great minor league stadium as is. It has the look and feel of a great stadium with a grass area in left field to throw down a blanket and watch the game. In right field there is a BBQ area where you can rent a space and cook during the game. It is also the only recently built stadium having been built in 2001. This is the #1 place to see baseball in Korea.

Munhak Baseball Stadium SK Wyverns

Munhak Baseball Stadium - Home of the SK Wyverns

Honorable Mention
Suwon Baseball Stadium – This stadium is no longer being used in the KBO, but it is better than half of the stadiums in use. It is the former home of the Hyundai Unicorns, which is now the NEXEN Heroes. The stadium is still used for high school tournaments.

Suwon Baseball Stadium

Suwon Baseball Stadium - Former Home of the Hyundai Unicorns

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Interview – Matthew Dewoskin of True Stories of Korean Baseball


Matthew Dewoskin has become an authority on Korean baseball.  Along with building up a following on his blog, True Stories of Korean Baseball, Matthew writes for a Busan based magazine, Busan Haps. Matthew was kind enough to sit down and take a few minutes to answer some questions on being a foreign journalist in Korea.

You have built up a following with your blog on the KBO. Did you have a favorite team back in the States as well?

Absolutely. I’m a lunatic for the Chicago White Sox team.

Do you still follow the MLB or that team?

I never stopped.

How long have you been in Korea?

About four years.

I have seen other people use your blog as a reference for anyone who wants to follow the KBO. What got you interested in writing about the KBO?

I was frustrated by the lack of KBO info in English, so I decided to start doing it myself. I also wanted to learn the Korean words for baseball terms and blogging helped with that.

Do you get most of your information for your daily updates from Korean websites?

About 95% of it.

How would you compare the KBO to MLB?

The biggest difference is the facilities. Korea hasn’t really put any money into upgrading their facilities since the 80’s and they need it desperately. As far as the on field product, the KBO is about AAA or AA level, but I think a lot of the top talent would do well in the US. We might get a chance to see Hanhwa ace Ryu Hyeon-jin make the jump next year. I think he’d make a great reliever. I’m not sure if he could start every fifth day for 162 games.

You also write for a magazine on the city of Busan, Busan Haps. How did that start?

The editor of the site made me a “Godfather Offer.” He basically said, “Write for me and you could talk to Jerry Royster every week.” Jerry doesn’t always answer his phone and I don’t always have time to chase him, but it’s cool having some access.

When you get the chance to go to games, how receptive are players to a foreign journalist?

I’ve only had a press pass once and I spent more time with Jerry than I did with the players. Lotte DH Hong Seong-heun spoke English and I was able to beg Lee Dae-ho into taking a picture with me. The Giants staff wasn’t very receptive to having non-Koreans hanging around. We weren’t allowed in the press box.

What about the coaches?

Honestly, I didn’t really meet any of them.

Are you able to interview any Korean players?

Funny you ask. There should be an interview with Lee Dae-ho going up at the Busan Haps site sometime soon.

I won’t ask you about any “bad guys” in the league, but I am always interested in hearing who is a really nice guy. Have you come across any in the KBO during your time here?

The few players I’ve met have been absolute gentlemen. I’ve never had a bad experience with a player. Except CJ Nitkowski. All the guys on Lotte were awesome and the few Samsung Lions I’ve met have been great. Samsung manager Sun Dong-yeol is one of the nicest guys on the planet.

How many games do you make it to in a given year?

As many as possible. I’ve only made it to about fifteen this year. Last year I made it to over 30.

Do you have a favorite stadium in the KBO?

Incheon’s Munhak Stadium. It’s by far the best ballpark in the KBO. Beautiful facility. They really made an effort to make Munhak different than the other cookie cutter stadiums in the KBO. The foliage in the outfield. The hydraulic boat for the cheerleaders. The modern upper deck. The wide concourses. It’s like a real stadium.

Thoughts on who might win this year in the KBO?

SK has to be the odds on favorite, but I’m excited to see the Lions in the Korean Series. I think Samsung’s pitching matches up well with SK and the opportunistic Samsung offense should provide enough runs to keep Samsung in the series.

Have you had the opportunity to travel and see baseball overseas anywhere?

I’ve been to a few games in Japan.

Where is the one place you would like to see a baseball game that you havne’t?

I’d really like to see a game in Cuba.

I’d like to thank Matthew for taking the time to answer some questions.  If you are interested in learning more about the KBO, head on over to his website, True Stories of Korean Baseball.  There is a lot of good information there.  Also check out his articles for Busan Haps where he covers the Lotte Giants (perhaps the most popular team in Korea).

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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?

Posted in KBO, StadiumsComments (0)

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.

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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

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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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