Tuesday, March 24, 2009

An honorable death?

Okay, so I didn't see the final game, but everyone is talking about what an idiot the Korea team coach was to not have walked Suzuki Ichiro when the game was tied 3-3 with two men on toward the end of the game.

Iheartblueballs, the commenter with the NSFW avatar, said it as eloquently as anyone can:
That was easily the single dumbest move in the history of baseball to pitch to Ichiro. He’s one of the top 5 hitters on the planet, and with the game on the line and an open base…just plain ridiculous to even give him a chance.

The ESPN guys couldn’t believe how stupid it was either. They called the result before it even happened.

A shame for the Korean players to fight so hard for the last few weeks, battle back in the 9th to tie it, and then get shit on by an absolute dumbfuck move by their manager.

None of the assistant coaches had the balls to tell him what was plain to anyone with half a brain cell?
I didn't watch the game, but I can imagine what was at work here. I'm guessing that Coach Kim Inshik (김인식) saw two options for victory: one where he goes up against the insolent Ichiro like true warriors on the battlefield, or the other where he weasels his way out of a confrontation and moves on to an easier opponent.

Simply put, who would want a victory through the lesser latter option? No, t'would be better to lose in a true battle — these are athletes after all! — than to win by weaselly means. And if defeat is the result, it is still an honorable one.

Shinsano comes to a similar conclusion: "In the mind of Kim In-shik to walk the reviled Ichiro was to lose face," he says.

But I don't agree that it was bad nationalism; instead, I think it was good theater. Imagine if he had won: there would be praise for this gutsy move that somehow paid off. In loss, he can still say he went head-to-head instead of weaseling out.

Now imagine he had done a weasel-walk and had won. For the next four years, that would be the cry from Team Korea's naysayers: You only won because you weaseled away from Ichiro. Worse, had he done a weasel-walk and lost, then there would be considerably less honor in the defeat that did come. At least this way he can hold his head up.

That is, if the news reports are not true that he is saying he told the pitcher to walk Ichiro. Because that just shoots my whole Honorable Warrior Theory* straight to hell.

Maybe Shinsano and iheartblueballs are right: All boneheaded nationalistic bravado, no brains.

UPDATE: The Marmot's Hole has an entire post dedicated to this.

* The Honorable Warrior Theory is also the Reckless Bus Driver With Something to Prove Theory.


  1. Anyway, it was nice game.

    We can not reverse the time so let's enjoy.

    You know, we Koreans don't have much baseball players neither good infrastructures, compared to those of Japan. Isn't it amazing? It is kind of magic.

    I am very proud of our players, and I believe things will be much different soon.

    By the way, I am worrying about the conflicts between Japanese fans and Korean fans.

    Some Japanese uploaded Video on YouTube, blaming the performance of Korean team.


    I can not believe this kind of performance is a big problem. In fact Japanese team did similar performance in the WBC 1st.


    I don't understand why this kind of performance can be a flame to some Korean or Japanese.

    Anyway, best lucks.

  2. Thanks for the comments, Bruce. I think both Japan and Korea should be proud of their national team's performance.

    As for why people would use this as a focal point for bashing some other country, that's just what some people do. Maybe it makes some of them feel better about themselves. Anyway, most native Koreans and Japanese I know don't engage in this, and they just dismiss the ones who do this. Can't let the hatahs get you down.

  3. I know I'm over a week too late (but it's taken me this long to get over this loss to Japan!), but I just wanted to say that there is nothing dishonorable about pitching around a good hitter in baseball. It's all about strategy, and that's what all good teams employ. Nobody mentioned anything about how Japan pitched around (and eventually walked) Tae Kyun Kim. One swing by this guy and it could have ended the game. However, the result is what the world cares about and Japan won the finals. As noted, Kim In Sik did stress that his signal to pitch around Ichiro was missed, so he is not saying he copped-out, but that he is a good strategist, which he is! Doing things like not pitching to the good hitters is not about honor...it's about strategy and that's why Japan out-strategized (I think I can use that word) Korea for their 'near- loss' (I can use that word in place of "victory" also!).


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