EWC: What do you think of the fact that the two top managers in Korean baseball declined to manage the WBC team? Do you think this will have a negative effect on the mindset of the team going into the tournament? How do you feel about the choice of Hanwha’s Kim In-sik?
Jee-ho: I did a column on this a few days ago. Yes, I definitely think this mess will have a negative effect on the team. On Nov. 13 the Japanese team announced its provisional roster including MLB guys with their manager, Tatsunori Hara, firmly in place. That provides a stark contrast what Korea has gone through over the past couple of weeks. It’s November yes, but it’s never too early to get the coaching staff all set in stone. (Ed note: tell that to the U.S. team)
As I pointed out in the column, the whole process of the manager selection left an impression that the WBC is not that big a deal. If managers can’t decide if they want to coach or not, what kind of message does that send to the players?
And there’s no military service exemption carrot for the WBC. The young guys who already got their exemption from the Beijing Olympics will have a little less motivation this time.
While the fact that the WBC is played in March can be cumbersome to some players, everyone else is experiencing the same dilemma. It’s not like the MLB training camp opens in May.
As for Kim In-sik: given the way he was, ahem, named the manager, I am not sure how motivated he will be in the dugout. He’ll probably be grumbling all the way to the Asian qualification (“Gosh darn it, Kim Sung-keun didn’t want to do this thing.”). But he’s one of those managers who never seem to be in good mood anyway. He did manage the 2006 team that reached the semis.
I just don’t think Korea will do much at this WBC, no matter who the manager is. The KBO players are overworked—teams engage in the so-called ‘wrap-up training’ right after the season ends and that often goes until the late November. They get maybe a month off before the training camp for the new season gets underway. I’d be shocked if Korea reaches the semis again.