How Korean Nationalism Cost it the WBC Crown
March 24th, 2009 Shinsano
Sure, once it’s over it’s easy to look back at key points in a game and criticize managerial decisions — but since when does it make sense to throw strikes with two outs, runners on second and third with first base open?
Oh yeah, and with one of the greatest hitters in baseball history up at the plate.
Yet, Lim Chang-yong threw eight pitches to Ichiro Suzuki and not one was a wasted pitch. Six of the eight were fastballs, most of which were hovering around 95 mph. The eighth was a splitter down the middle that hung over the plate and was slapped into center for a 2 RBI single to put Japan up by the final 5-3 score.
Hard to fathom any circumstance where not walking Ichiro made any sense. Before Akinori Iwamura took second on catcher’s indifference, announcer Rick Sutcliffe speculated it might not be a great move by Japan to take the open base (Korea wasn’t holding the runner at first) since it would essentially take the bat out of Ichiro’s hands.
To rewind that a little further, the decision to not hold the runner at first is even questionable. Third string first baseman Lee Tae-kuen (an outfielder) was a full 15-20 feet behind the runner. This even caught Japan, who didn’t take it’s free base until the second pitch, off-guard.
This is nothing but boneheaded nationalistic bravado here, folks. This was Kim In-shik attempting to engage Ichiro one-on-one. I would fully take it the other way and say this disrespected Ichiro. After Iwamura took his free base Lim threw a fastball on the outter half of the plate, which Ichiro fouled off. Next pitch, another fastball, again fouled away.
Lim is a very good pitcher, and as opposed to 90% of the right-handed submarine pitchers in the world, he can get left-handed hitters out. Last year, in the NPB Lim surrendered a .264 on base average versus lefties. That mark was 20 points higher versus righties. But Ichiro is no ordinary left-handed batter. He too defies common logic and has a career .387 mark versus LHPs — ten points higher than that against right-handed pitchers.
In the mind of Kim In-shik to walk the reviled Ichiro was to lose face. Even with Hiroyuki Nakajima (hitting .222 for the WBC) on deck, even with first base open and two outs, even with his closer having already thrown over 30 pitches, Kim (since he’s likely calling the pitches from the dugout) came at Ichiro with several more pitches before the eighth was lined into centerfield.
The move ignored basic baseball strategy, and it ignored the kind of hitter that Ichiro has been his entire career. The only thing it didn’t ignore was the history of the Japanese and Korean nations. It cost Korea its chances at the WBC crown.
Korean press is reporting that the manager is claiming he indeed ordered a more-or-less intentional walk to Ichiro. Not sure if his story is that this was ignored or misinterpreted by the pitcher. Sounds like b.s. to me.
Probably told the pitcher to “be careful, don’t give him anything good to hit” etc. Which is NOT an intentional walk. For the manager to fob this off on his players is disgraceful.
Rikola // Mar 24, 2009 at 9:41 pm
All in all a good game, I could barely watch, as Korea had a very slight up on Japan. Korea should have come with a victory, but this stupid move by Korea brilliantly instigated by Japan was very indicative of Japan’s manipulative ability to shill.
Now Korean manager has nothing left and wants to blame his own players? Ichiro made a fool out of himself, and now he saves his face. This was brilliant maneuvering of the Korean Manager and Japanese staffed Korean players by Japan.
I saw it and I could not believe it myself. With an open base they were pitching to Ichiro. IN EXTRA INNINGS. I had a bad feeling that something wrong was going to happen for Korea and when he hit the ball and 2 runs scored. I just could not believe it.
Kim In-shik is the manager of the (Daejeon) Hanwha Eagles Baseball team. He had acquired the nickname "Bernie" by the foreigners here in Daejeon, due to the fact that, at times, he looks dead, like "Bernie" for the 80's "Weekend At Bernies"
Kim In-shik is being ripped apart on "The Marmot's and "Eastwestchronicle" Blogs. I can not believe that he is blaming his pitcher for failing to follow his instructions about walking Ichiro.
I have never understood why everyone here in Korea, swears that Kim In-shik is one of the greatest managers ever. I have been watching the Eagles since 2005 and He has screwed up his pitching every year. HE CAN NOT MANAGE A PITCHING STAFF AND HE WAS ONE OF THE MANAGERS CRYING ABOUT GOING BACK TO THE 12 INNING TIE. I have never seen why he is a good manager. He cost Korea the WBC title.