Archive for the 'Korea' Category

Kang Loses DUI Appeal

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

If anyone was wondering where Pirate third baseman Jung-Ho Kang is he has been in Korea and had been apparently drinking a lot of alcohol during the off season. He was convicted of a DUI offense and sentenced to eight months in prison. The problem with this most recent DUI was it was his third DUI and there was hit and run involved with a guard rail. He had DUI convictions in 2009 and 2011 and evidently had a reputation in Korea as a party animal. The Pirates were evidently caught by surprise with this information. It certainly does not help future Korean players negotiate contracts with major league teams.

The prison time was suspended, but the felony conviction prevented Kang from getting a work visa. He appealed the conviction, hoping to reduce it to a fine, which would make it easier to get a work visa but that appeal was lost yesterday. Now it is unclear whether he will get a work visa for the remainder of his contract, which runs through 2019. The Pirates are still working on getting him a visa.

What may not help him is his sexual assault allegation that still hangs around in Chicago. That investigation involves a woman who initially alleged she was drugged and raped. That doesn’t sound like someone I would want in my country, regardless of what country it is if I was the official issuing the work visa. The sexual assault case has not been pursued because the woman has not cooperated with the investigation after the allegations were made. The police investigation for that case remains open as of March 2017 but with Kang still in Korea it may be difficult to pursue.

Even if Kang can return to the United States he could be facing suspensions as a result of the sexual assault allegations and/or drunk driving convictions. Hopefully the party animal has been behaving himself while stranded in Korea. Another bad incident will be a death sentence to his major league career and a bad look for other Korean players looking at the major leagues.

At this point it would be interesting to see if the KBO would allow him to play if he tried to continue his career in Korea if the major league opportunities dry up.

From Worst to First

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

At one point the Samsung Lions were the class of the KBO. From 2011 to 2015 they won the division and went on to win the KBO championship. The cracks began appearing in 2015 after they again won the KBO division for the fifth year in a row in 2015. Three of their players were implicated in gambling violations, former major leaguer and closer Chang-Yong Lim, 17 game winner Sung-Hwan Yun and setup pitcher Ji-Man An. The Lions suspended those players before the playoffs and failed to win a fifth straight championship.

In 2016 they moved into their new stadium. That should have been a reason to celebrate, but the team folded, finishing in ninth place with a .455 winning percentage. They have not finished that low since 1996. The dark clouds of failure were beginning to circle above them.

This year one of the best players in the KBO Seung-Yeop Lee announced this would be his last season. If you combine his Korean numbers with his Japanese numbers he has hit over 600 homeruns. No Korean player has come close to that feat. One would think this would be a reason for the Lions to focus on having a good season, to see off one of the best players in KBO history to a playoff.

That doesn’t appear to be happening. They currently sit in last place with a 5-22-2 record, six games out from the next to last place team the Hanwha Eagles. Bad news continues to filter into their system with the announcement that one of their players was suspended 72 games for a drug violation. It is not often that a player in the KBO is suspended for a drug violation.

The pitching is bad. No team in the KBO has given up more runs than the Lions. Their bats are soft, with only the KT Wiz scorer fewer runs than the Lions 118. Their foreign players have been a bust. Darin Ruf has hit only .179 with three homeruns. One of their pitchers Anthony Renaudo has yet to appear in a game. The one player having a decent season is Zach Petrick, who has a 3.29 ERA in six starts. Anytime you have an ERA less than 4 you are doing good in the KBO.

What makes a team turn around even more difficult are the scandals surrounding Samsung. The company has been implicated with the former President of Korea, with charges of bribery and corruption. It does not appear a quick recovery is on the horizon. Yesterday they lost to the Doosan Bears 17-2, the team that took the championship away from them in 2015. The Bears have also been struggling to stay over .500 in the KBO.

The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters were the champions in the NPB in 2016. They have the best player in the league in Shohei Otani so there was no reason to not expect them to again battle for a championship in 2017. Until their best player injured himself running the bases as a position player and could not take the mound or step to the plate.

The Nippon Ham Fighters are no longer in last place in the Pacific Division. But they are 9-19, which puts them in next to last place only a game ahead of the Chibba Lotte Marines. They defeated the Marines yesterday 6-4 to extricate themselves from last place. They were hoping for a little more production from Brandon Laird, who is struggling early in the season with a .204 average and only seven homeruns. Sho Nakata is another slugger struggling, hitting just .159 with one homerun. Last year Nakata slugged 25 homeruns and drove in 110 runs.

The season is progressing and the Fighters don’t expect to have Otani until June. Once the season ends there is speculation the team may not have him after next year. Otani wants to play in the major leagues. Baseball has a new agreement with the player’s association that appears to limit what Otani can earn if he chooses to play in the major leagues. The major leagues also want to renegotiate the posting system. To win the Fighters need Otani. That may not be their choice.

The Natural Revisted in Korea

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Korea Joongang Daily writes an interesting piece on LG Twins Hyung-Jong Lee who was a star pitcher in high school. After a loss in the high school championship game he was drafted by the LG Twins. That high school loss ate at him and he could never find success as a pitcher. Fortunately for Lee he did not have to get shot to change his career to a hitter, but a few failures along the way careened into his path.

The Twins drafted him in 2008 and paid him a huge six figure bonus ($383,000) to sign as a pitcher. He won his first game as a Twin in 2010 but an elbow injury shortened his career on the mound. While he was rehabilitating Lee was involved in an insubordination incident for a post he made on social media. He announced his retirement and pursued a career as a professional golfer. That career did not last long and he returned to the Twins, this time as a hitter.

In 2016 he hit his first professional KBO homerun. Memories are long in the KBO. Despite the homerun he was sent back down to the equivalent of the minor leagues in Korea. Lee was eventually brought back up but he only got 147 at bats for the year.

Lee is now the leading hitting for the resurging Twins to begin the 2017 season, a Twins team who find themselves in third place in the KBO. At 27 years of age Lee has reinvented himself as a hitter with a .417 batting average and three homeruns. He has also stolen five bases with three homeruns.

Major league fans thought it was a great accomplishment for Rick Ankiel to resurrect his career from pitcher to hitter. Lee has done the same, but early in the 2017 season his .413 batting average trails only Dae-Ho Lee for second in the KBO. Dae-Ho is another player who has returned to Korea after playing a number of years in Japan and the United States.

MLB All Stars to Visit Korea and Taiwan

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Major league baseball is in discussions to have an All Star team visit Korea for offseason exhibition games according to Yonhap News Agency. It could be held sometime in November along with a stop in Taiwan. Major league baseball has not played a game in Korea since an exhibition game with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1958. It is expected the teams would play in the domed stadium Gocheok Sky Dome, which is where the WBC games were played in Korea.

Major league baseball played exhibition games in Taiwan in 2011. The last exhibition trip to Asia was Japan in 2014 for games against the NPB All Stars.

LG Twins Lose No Hitter then Game

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

The LG Twins used four different pitchers to no hit the KT Wiz through nine innings. Ryan Feierabend kept the Wiz in the game by shutting out the LG Twins for nine innings giving up seven hits. LG Twins starter Chan-Gyu Lim went the first five innings, walked three and hit three batters. In two starts for Lim he has shown a bit of wildness hitting six batters.

The three other relievers kept the no hitter alive through the next three innings and two outs into the ninth. A fifth pitcher Chan-Heon Jung came on with two out in the ninth in a game tied at 0-0 and coughed up a double to Han-Joon Yoo to end the no-no. Two walks loaded the bases before a flyout ended the inning.

Feierabend retired the Twins in order in the ninth to send the game into extra innings. Jung gave up a leadoff single to Woo-Jun Sim to begin the top of the tenth. He was replaced by Dae-Hyun Kim. A bunt advanced Sim to second and an infield single by Min-Su Jeon moved him to third. With one out Johnny Monell lofted a fly ball deep enough to right field to score Sim.

Jae-Yoon Kim came on in relief to close out the game. After issuing a leadoff walk, he retired the last three hitters, striking out the last hitter to end the game.

The KT Wiz have been an early surprise in the KBO. The expansion team is now 9-4 and tied for second place early in the KBO season. Meanwhile, the Samsung Lions lost again despite a homerun from the Lion King Seung-Yeop Lee and now find themselves comfortably in last place with a 2-11 record. Just two years ago they had won their fifth straight pennant, eventually losing to the Doosan Bears in the KBO championship.

Choi Jeong Hits Four Taters in KBO

Saturday, April 8th, 2017

Last year Choi Jeong reached 40 homeruns for the first time in his KBO career. At 30 years of age he is in his 13th year with the SK Wyverns in the KBO. A major league career is probably not in his future. He did do something impressive yesterday, even in the offensive oriented KBO, blasting four homeruns in the SK Wyverns 9-2 win over the NC Dinos.

He started the first inning off with a solo homerun to give the Wyverns an early 1-0 lead. In the third his two run homerun upped the score to 4-0. It could have been a three run homer but two wild pitches emptied one base with a score. The seventh inning saw him crank his third homer of the game, a two run bomb. In the eighth inning he spanked his fourth homer, a solo shot to give him six runs batted in for the game.

Choi Jeung was a one man wrecking crew. For the SK Wyverns it was their first win of the season. Prior to the game Jeong was struggling with a .150 average and only one homerun, with 9 whiffs in his seven games. The four hit four homerun game upped his average close to .300 and the Wyverns hopes it changes the karma on the team to allow them to start a winning streak.

Brett to Throw Out First Pitch in Korea

Friday, March 31st, 2017

Hall of Famer George Brett will be throwing out the first pitch in the NC Dinos third game of their series opener. The Koreans are pretty unique about their opening pitches, usually relying on acrobatic gymnasts to twist and turn when throwing out a first pitch. As far as myworld knows this is the first time a major league Hall of Famer will be throwing out a first pitch in a KBO game.

Brett got to know some of the executives of the NC Dinos during their spring training work outs in Arizona. Brett happened to be in Korea during that time to attend to some personal business so the effort was made to have him toss out the first pitch.

Info obtained from mykbo news via Yonhap news agency.

Foreigners in the KBO

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

The KBO season starts today (or tomorrow). Below are the foreign players on each KBO team. Each team is allowed three foreign players, but no three foreign players can be all pitchers or position players. It must be a two to one mix. Most teams choose to have two foreign pitchers.

Doosan Bears

Michael Bowden RHP
Dustin Nippert RHP
Nick Evans 1B

NC Dinos

Jeff Manship RHP
Eric Hacker RHP (not currently on active roster)
Xavier Scruggs 1B

Nexen Heroes

Sean O’Sullivan RHP
Andy VanHekken LHP
Danny Dorn 2B/Infield

LG Twins

Henry Sosa RHP
David Huff LHP (not on active roster)
Luis Jimenez 1B/DH

Kia Tigers

Hector Noesi RHP
Pat Dean LHP (not on active roster)
Roger Bernadina OF

SK Wyverns

Merril Kelly RHP
Scott Diamond LHP (not on active roster)
Danny Worth 3B

Hanwha Eagles

Alexi Ogando RHP
Carlos Villaneuva RHP
Wilin Rosario 1B/DH

Lotte Giants

Brooks Raley LHP
Nick Addition RHP (recently purchased from Taiwan to replace Parker Markel
Andy Burns Inf

Samsung Lions

Zach Petrick RHP
Anthony Renaudo RHP (not on active roster
Darin Ruf 1B

KT Wiz

Ryan Feierabend (LHP)
Donn Roach (RHP)
Johnny Monell (1B)

Players sent down to the minor leagues (not on active roster) must stay down there for a minimum of ten days.

Opening Day in KBO Will See Rotation of Foreign Pitchers

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Don’t know if this is a testament to Korean pitchers, but opening day for the KBO begins Friday and all ten teams will start foreign pitchers to begin the season. Below are the teams and their starters for opening day.

Doosan Bears (Dustin Nippert) vs Hanwha Eagles (Carlos Villanueva)
Nexen Heroes (Andy Van Hekken) vs LG Twins (Henry Sosa)
NC Dinos (Jeff Manship) vs Lotte Giants (Brooks Raley)
SK Wyverns (Merrill Kelly) vs KT Wiz (Donn Roach)
Samsung Lions (Zach Petrick vs Kia Tigers (Hector Noesi)

Japan Retains Number One World Ranking

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Despite the United States first place finish in the World Baseball Classic tournament this month Japan has retained the number one ranking thanks to their third place finish. Over the course of the voting the United States has won four tournaments to one for Japan in tournaments both teams have competed in. Where Japan jumps ahead of the United States is their two championships that the United States chose not to enter.

Below is the top 12 teams and their points accumulated in parenthesis.

1. Japan (5699)
2. United States (5378)
3. South Korea (4789)
4. Taiwan (3901)
5. Cuba (3737)
6. Mexico (2961)
7. Venezuela (2804)
8. Australia (2433)
9. Netherlands (2071)
10. Canada (2020)
11. Puerto Rico (1759)
12. Italy 1708

You can see the complete list by going to World rankings