Get Bean Balls and “Hit-by-a-pitch” out of Korean Baseball

Fan to KLB Commissioner: Throw out pitchers who intentionally hit batters. And their managers as well.

The exciting things about the Korean Baseball League (KBL) have been noted elsewhere but include:

Amazing cheers for every player, with each one having his own song to boot. The entire crowd (and if you are like me, a Kia Tigers fan, half the crowd at away games can be cheering for Kia as well!) gets into the fun and cheers throughout the game including while pitches are being thrown. The fuddy duddies in the Major League Baseball (MLB) office that jumped all over San Diego when their fans cheered during the playoffs a few years back need guidance. We’re talking baseball here not golf or tennis. Put in dancing girls, individualized cheers for players and fans pounding noise-making inflatable cylindrical bat replicas, and MLB could be as much fun the KBL.

Cheerleaders, and dancing ones at that, grace the games in case you are slack in your cheering, this can motivate anyone, if you’re lucky enough to score a seat within eyesight. The average age of attendance is probably 20 years younger at KBL than MLB games. Kids abound at KBL games, and aren’t sports meant to be lessons for children on top of entertainment?

But it’s the games themselves that provide the most fun. “Interesting” base running, fielding, pitching and hitting make the KBL the perfect mix of MLB and minor league AAA ball back in the USA. Diving catches, and booted simplicities pile up to make watching your team FIELD better than going to get a beer. The classic hungry ball-fan will quench appetite and thirst while the other team is batting. At KLB games people haul picnics so ample that leaving one’s chair only happens “when nature calls.” These picnics are shared with fans nearby, and the communal fun continues during those never-ending cheers, beer drinking contests, kissing contests (televised, closed circuit I’m sure) and assorted fun like kids running all over the stadium make this league NOT a league for retirees.

Batting consistently outguns pitching in this league, so scores like Kias early-season 13-12 loss to LG are possible. Four runs is often not enough to win a game.

So the games are exciting, and as Kia fans know, if it comes down to relievers, a four run lead in the ninth can result in a loss (hopefully never again this year!). But let’s not dwell on the home team. There is one screaming blemish in the KBL that must stop.

It’s “Hit by a Pitch.” In last night’s 7-2 win over NC, our two most consistent hitters, Kim Seung Bin and Nah Ji Wan both got hit by pitches that no one could have ever ducked away from. One happened early with one of the best control pitchers in the league laying out Seung Bin. The next, late in the game, with ONLY revenge as a factor hit Nah Ji Wan also in a way that could not be avoided. Ji Wan, the all-time “hit-by-a-pitch” leader for Kia, if not the entire league, is a high batting average, lately home run hitter, who had to sit out a week earlier in the year when he was hit in the spine. A super acquisition on a four-year deal, Gim Ju Chan had his wrist broken in a similar attack, benching him for nearly 6 weeks. That started Kia, not coincidentally, on a skid, from which we are starting to recover.

Here’s the solution…one often employed in the MLB. Kick pitchers out of the game when a player is hit. In games where multiple players are hit, kick all pitchers involved AND THE MANAGER out of the game, and make the fine 10-games pay for both manager and player.

Until this discretion to eject and fine players is invented and enforced it BEHOOVES teams to hit players. I’m gonna guess on this, but isn’t the ratio of Kia players getting hit to our opponents playing against us getting hit about 5 to 1? 10 to 1? One lesson fans should not learn is that to hit and possibly injure another team’s stars works to the advantage of the offending bean-ballers.

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