Korean baseball was humiliated by being eliminated in the first round of the World Baseball Classic (WBC) on the 13th. Not once or twice, it’s already the third time. This is a ‘WBC strikeout’. Korean baseball has definitely regressed to the extent that it couldn’t break through the ‘Golden Match’, which was said to be the best grouping ever. This time, we are in a situation where we have to take the sarcastic remarks such as ‘a league of their own’ and ‘frogs in the well’ that come out every time a disaster occurs.
The national team, led by head coach Lee Kang-cheol, won the 5th cold game 22-2 in the final Group B match against China held at Tokyo Dome, Japan on the 13th and finished the tournament in 3rd place (2 wins, 2 losses). 1st place in the group is Japan (4 wins), 2nd place is Australia (3 wins 1 loss).
Director Lee bowed his head, saying, “I am sincerely sorry to the people and baseball fans in Korea,” and “I am sorry once again that the result came out like this because I was lacking.” Captain Kim Hyeon-soo (LG) also blamed himself, saying, “I couldn’t lead the players well because I was lacking,” and then announced his retirement from the national team, saying, “It’s the last time I wear a Korean uniform.”
In the WBC, the skills of the participating teams gradually improved, but Korea, which won the 2006 WBC semifinals and the 2009 WBC runner-up, seems to be going backwards. He suffered a shock defeat (7-8) to Australia, who was considered one step below, and suffered a crushing defeat at the level of a cold game (4-13) against Japan, whom he met again in the WBC in 14 years. They won (7-3) against the Czech Republic, a “two-job team” who enjoys playing baseball while making a living. This is a good example of how frothy Korean baseball is.
The KBO League is the most popular sport in Korea. The audience opened the era of 8 million, and the players receive special treatment. Free agent (FA) contracts worth well over 10 billion won appear one after another, and non-FA players also acquire large sums through multi-year contracts. This is not because of popularity and skill, but because of the scarcity caused by the shallow player base.
As confirmed in this tournament, the pitcher problem is serious in the ‘league in the well’. The pitchers representing the KBO League are 메이저놀이터 Kim Gwang-hyeon (SSG) and Yang Hyeon-jong (KIA), who are still in their mid-30s. The ‘young blood’ called ‘the best’ in the league, such as Koo Chang-mo (NC) Lee Eui-ri (KIA) Sohn Joon-joon (KT) and Kim Yun-sik (LG), showed poor performances. I couldn’t even put the strike properly.
Even during the 2017 Gocheok disaster, then national team coach Kim In-sik said, “Since Ryu Hyun-jin and Kim Gwang-hyun, there have been no pitchers who fear the opponent for the past 10 years. They said, “A good rookie pitcher needs to come out in high school and college.”
Even Japanese baseball legends were surprised to see Korean pitchers whose level had dropped significantly. Kosuke Fukudome, a former hard hitter who faced Korean pitchers in the 2006 and 2009 WBC, met with the Hankook Ilbo on the 12th and said, “The pitchers are so bad.” The first pitch has to be supported, but there are so many walks,” he criticized harshly.
Japan’s legendary closer Kazuhiro Sasaki (55) also said, “There seemed to be more types of power pitchers than pitchers with control. However, it would be fine if we could defeat Japan with force like the United States, but Korea does not have that strength,” he emphasized the importance of control.
The KBO was stingy in preparing a system for nurturing players and nurturing players, as they were frantic only for the results in front of them, while the stagnant ‘baseball float’. If there is no international competitiveness in winning or being popular, it is just a bright apricot. The need for active exchanges is also raised, as in the ‘Super Game’ of Korea-Japan professional baseball in the 1990s.