In Korean baseball, there is no otani, no glory. There’s only a drinking game. Taegeuk-mark is…
“Morally and humanly, there is no one to serve as a role model. It’s hard to find the best in the world in terms of skill, but in terms of humanity…I’m ashamed and sorry for my fellow baseball players.”
This is part of a conversation I had with a former national team legend after the WBC late-night drinking scandal. As he says, Korean baseball has no icons anymore. Its international performance has long since plummeted, and the only thing that remains is the drinking scandal.
Kim Kwang-hyun, Lee Yong-chan, and Jeong Chul-won apologized in tandem ahead of their one-day games at Incheon SSG Landers Field and Changwon NC Park, respectively, revealing that they were the ones responsible for reports of late-night drinking incidents during the WBC tournament.
Earlier, a media outlet and a YouTube channel reported that some players who competed in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) on March 30 had consumed alcohol in Tokyo, Japan, where the first round of the tournament was held.
Three players bowed their heads in public three days after the report. However, overall public opinion hasn’t changed much. The players’ claims that there were no bars or female hostesses are hard to believe, and even if they were true, the public’s reaction is that they behaved in a way that is not acceptable for a national team member.
It is very painful to see the public viewing this as a moral hazard for the entire baseball world and the national team, not just the deviation of a few players. However, it is a reaction that should not be overlooked.
When we look at the reactions of many members of the baseball community, baseball fans, and the general public after the drinking scandal during the WBC, it seems that the players’ apologies and truth-telling are not what really matter. One cannot help but feel that Korean baseball has lost something important.
As many of us witnessed at the WBC, Japan’s baseball team rallied around an ace in Shohei Ohtani (LA Angels) to win the championship. His dedication to “Samurai Japan” has been an inspiration to Japanese baseball fans and the public, as he is one of the world’s best “idoru players,” a type of hitter and pitcher who plays in Major League Baseball.
Before and during the tournament, he and Darvish Yu (San Diego), the team’s top staff member, took on the role of leaders, rallying the players and speaking humbly but confidently about their goals in front of the media.
At dinners and team meetings organized by Ohtani and Darvish, the Japanese team nodded in agreement as they listened to the confidence-boosting and motivational words of the two. The Japanese people and baseball fans felt the same way, especially when Ohtani celebrated his championship-clinching save in the final game, which many consider to be one of the greatest moments in WBC history.
It was frustrating and enviable to watch the Japanese, as well as the Australian and Czech teams, who were considered weaker than us or on the fringes of baseball, play their best from the qualifying to the quarterfinal rounds. Especially, they talked about their dreams, hopes, and happiness throughout the tournament, even in semi-professional environments where they couldn’t focus on baseball.
While watching the stark contrast between them and the Korean national team, the reporter couldn’t help but feel bitter and sad. There was an inexplicable feeling of anguish and resentment, but at the same time, I kept hoping for a miracle. 스포츠토토
As a third party, I accompanied the team throughout the tournament with a highly subjective, one-sided support, encouragement, and love or hate. I’m sure many baseball fans felt the same way.
However, it was the saddest and hardest thing for me, both professionally and personally, to watch the reactions of the Korean people and baseball fans who were deeply disappointed after watching the outcome of their expectations once again turn out to be a disaster. I felt even more helpless because I read and sympathized with the frustration contained in their disappointment.
On the one hand, it was a disappointing result for an individual who was nothing, but I thought that the national team, who wore the flag and gave their all, must also be very frustrated and discouraged. I tried to empathize with their feelings. But in the end, the efforts and hearts of “us” were betrayed in the end.
Considered one of the best baseball players in the world, Ohtani has never been a cliché throughout his career, and has always maintained a sincere and exemplary demeanor, which is why he is not only a representative of Japanese baseball, but also an icon of Japanese sports.
From his youth, he read a lot of books and set goals for himself to become one of the best players in the world, and even now that he’s a superstar, he hasn’t gotten used to the responsibility, which is why he is the pride of Samurai Japan and the pride of the Japanese people.
In the absence of cheers and sweat, what is left? Who would be happy to watch a world where only ugliness remains?
Instead of being able to see the beautiful world, why should baseball fans have to see their intimate and tainted affairs that they don’t need to know. Not only this time, but this year, baseball fans had to hear about all kinds of incidents and accidents before baseball-related news.
I wonder if they missed out on something so important. Watching the national teams of other sports, seeing how they have grown up, and watching the baseball world in light of the current level of consciousness in Korea, another question comes to mind.
What does the flag mean to them, to Korean baseball?