Player Profile: Kim Kwang-Hyun #29

Kim Kwang Hyun # 29

Position: Starting Pitcher (LHP) 
Birth:
July 22nd 1988, Korea
Age:
23
Height: 
187 cm
Weight: 83 kg
Nickname: I think SK calls him the Korean Ace as he was once the top pitcher of Korea’s national team

 

Kim Kwang-hyun is an enigmatic young left handed pitcher. With obvious potential to be the ace of the staff for both SK and the Korean national team, it’s more frustrating to follow his career than it should be. As a high school player, Kwang-hyun led his team to the first ever Korean national highschool baseball title by absolutely dominating all comers. Later that year, he beat the USA in the junior world baseball championships, where he also threw a no-hitter against Japan. Tip: if you want to be loved by Korean baseball fans, throwing a no-hitter against Japan is a good start. Anyway, Kim graduated to the Wyverns in 2007 as a 19 year old (!!) and baffled the Doosan Bears in the Korean Series to help secure the victory for SK that year. In 2008, as a 20 year old, Kwang-hyun dominated the KBO and won the MVP award with a 16-4 record, a 2.39 ERA, and 150 strikeouts in 162 innings pitched. He missed the pitching triple crown as You(n)-Suk-min took the ERA title by .06. At that years summer Olympics, he was equally impressive guiding the Korean team to a gold medal and earning an exemption from military service… nice-eu!

 Service to country:  same-same

Dominating the Olympics

2 years of military service.

As a 20 year old with a 96 mph fastball and an array of pitches that baseballreference.com already called “major league average” It was pretty clear Kim would continue to improve, become the best pitcher in Asia, move to MLB and dominate until his baseball hall of fame induction… but then, 2 of SK fans most bitter rivals tried to derail young Kim’s career. Okay, they didn’t try to, but its more interesting as a story.

At the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Ichiro and a bunch of other players, scored 8 runs off Kim in less than 2 innings on their way to a 14-2 pummeling of Korea. Kim struggled with command of his pitches as he struggled through the tournament. Then, in 2009 Doosan star, the dreamy and totally boo-able, Kim Hyun-soo (우우우우우우우) added injury to insult by breaking Kwang-hyun’s pitching hand with a batted ball. This forced the SK ace to miss the rest of the 2009 season.

Ichiro celebrates his victory.

Kim Kwang hyun Eating the MVP award.

In 2010 Kim Kwang Hyun looked like a man on a mission. He led SK to another Korean series title going a ridiculously awesome 17-7 with a 2.37 and 183 strikeouts to only 84 walks. He took a no-hitter into the 9th with 2 out in a game against the Samsung lions only to have it broken up. The hit sucked too… just a little weak ground ball through the right side of the infield *sigh*. Kwang-hyun, still only 23, finished as a runner-up in MVP voting (to the dirty-hand-breaker Kim Hyun-soo)
While basking in the glow of another Korean series title Kim was struck by a… stroke! It was a mild stroke, but still pretty scary for a 23 year old pro baseball player. After months of rehab Kim was able to return mid-way through the 2011 season, but as a shadow of his former self. A lack of control and slight dip in velocity led to a mediocre season. in 2012  another injury, this time to his shoulder, led to a shortened season and a mediocre 4.20 ERA albeit with a respectable 65 strikeouts in 82 innings…

Shoulder injuries are usually tricky to comeback from, so hopefully while his return was unspectacular he can still regain his past form in 2013.  Let’s hope we see more smiles from Kwang-hyun this year.

Kwanghyun happy

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Player Profile: Choi-Jeong # 14

Choi-Jeong # 14


Position: 
Third Base
Born:  February 28th 1987, Korea.
Age: 25
Height:  
180cm
Weight: 84kg
Nickname: 소년장사 which means Strong Boy, also Spiderman!

 

Choi Jeong, aside from the fact he only has 2 syllables in his name, is probably the Wyvern’s most complete player. As a high school player Choi Jeong could play all 9 positions and was an excellent starting pitcher. However, upon promotion to the professional league with SK, the team elected to use him a position player so his mighty bat could be in the lineup every day. Being a former pitcher plus a great athlete makes him a dependable 3rd baseman with a strong arm for those long throws across the diamond.
Choi Jeong had a tough start to his KBO career but has rounded into form nicely, as he continues to mature. 2008 was a real breakthrough,  in which Choi hit .328 and won Korean Series MVP as the Wyverns put their annual beating on the Doosan Bears. In each of the last 3 years Choi has hit at least .300 with 20 homeruns, as well as winning the KBO gold glove award for outstanding defense at 3rd base.  Last year he finished 2nd with 26 homeruns. At only 26 years old, he is just entering the prime of his career and projects to be a superstar of Korean baseball… or bolt for Japan in free agency next year… shrug

Throwing error!.. Just kidding, he’s a gold glover.

Gold glove, gold bow tie… pimp.

Choi is encouraged at the plate by one of the more dangerous and feminine chants for an SK hitter. The chant involves enthusiastic jumping, while screaming his name to a delightfully catchy beat! Notably, the song has changed over the last 3 years to reflect Choi Jeong’s evolving game, ambitiously encouraging a home-lun when previously, it merely called for an anta (hit).

While among the top 10 in a number of KBO hitting categories, the statistic Choi Jeong dominates is being hit by a pitch. The “death ball” (Korean term) has plunked Choi 80 times in the last 4 years, which is impressive and manly.

Considering his age, awesomness, status as an everyday player, 2 syllable name AND notable chant Choi Jeong seems like a fantastic choice for you people looking for a favourite player, SK jersey buyers, or girls looking for a Korean boyfriend who isn’t prettier than them.

 ” Hello Ladies, I’ll be with you right after this level 😉 “

Welcome to the KBO: What you need to know.

~~~Happy Korean Baseball ^^!!

For the site’s first post, I thought it would be appropriate to give some background on the Korean baseball league and the SK Wyverns for people to get a sense of the rich history involved here. Dozens of years of baseball tradition will be distilled into this relatively short read.

Background on the Korean Baseball League and a Brief History of the SK Wyverns:

I’m not convinced the casual Korean baseball fan is that interested in a detailed walkthrough of the Korean Baseball Organization’s (KBO)  history, and god knows I’m not the right guy to ask if you do. Instead, what I will do here is give a brief description league as it is today and a condensed version of SK’s path to becoming a powerhouse behemoth in the 2012 KBO season (?)

The Korean Baseball Organization

The KBO

The KBO operates both the professional baseball and development leagues, and is also responsible for Korea’s participation in international competitions such as the Olympics, Asia games and World Baseball Classic. That being said, I find generally people use KBO to mean the Korean pro baseball league, so that’s what we’ll do here.

The Korean pro league started in 1982 and currently has 9 teams, with another team having been added for 2013.  Since Korean and Japanese sports leagues, unlike pretty much any other pro leagues in the world, use the corporate sponsor of the team as the most visible way to identify them, it’s pretty difficult to figure out which team is from where — unless you know how to use Google… or Naver… seriously though Google — I’ll save you the hassle.

KBO Teams (Ranked by Relevance to the SK Wyvern Fan:)


1. SK Wyverns – Incheon – Munhak stadium

Relevance to SK: On account of them being SK

————————————————————————————————-
2. Doosan Bears – Seoul- Jamsil Stadium

Relevance to SK: Our arch rival. You are obliged to hate them.

3. Samsung Lions- Daegu- Daegu Baseball Stadium

Relevance to SK: They’ve beaten SK in the Korean series twice in row, after being decimated in 4 straight games in 2010. Dislike them but don’t brag too much to their fans. They’re pretty good. Save it for those Doosan jerks.

4. Kia Tigers – Gwangju – Mudeung Stadium

Relevance to SK: Beat us in the 2009 Korean series on a 7th game walk-off home run in the 10th inning at the most heartbreaking sporting event I’ve ever witnessed live.
It still stings a bit. A lot of their players look like jerks.

5. Lotte Giants – Busan – Sajik Stadium 

Relevance to SK: A big name team and the games are always fun to go to live, because Lotte fans are insane and they travel and wear orange garbage bags on their heads. Don’t let them drown you out in our home park. We beat them in the playoffs all the time, use that.

6. The Nexxen Heroes-  Mokdong, Seoul – Mokdong baseball “stadium”

Relevance to SK: The Hyundai Unicorns used to play in Incheon then they moved to Mokdong  and became the Woori (Our) Heroes, which are now the Nexxen Heroes. So you’ll find some Nexxen fans in Incheon.  The Heroes have had trouble paying their players in recent years. Also their players aren’t good. A perennial bottom feeder (MLB fans think the Pittsburgh Pirates without the nice new stadium) I try not to pay too much attention to them because they have gross maroon jerseys and a super creepy mascot. They made a good run at the beginning of last season, but predictably faded down the stretch.

7. LG Twins- Seoul – Jamsil Stadium
Relevance to SK:  They are from Seoul so you can get to their home games. LG has twin towers in Seoul, so that’s apparently the logic there  :/

8. Hanhwa Eagles – Daejeon – Daejeon Baseball Stadium

Relevance to SK:  I don’t know, they play in a tiny, ancient baseball and usually suck…. Former MLB “star” Park Chan-ho will played for them, Ryu Hyun-jin did too! But he was sold to the Dodgers for 26 million dollars and basically already guaranteed the Eagles top spot in league revenue this year, and probably last place in the league, unless they are challenged by:

 

Nc_dinos_emblem9. NC Dinos – Changwon – Masan Baseball Stadium

The Dinos are an expansion club this year which means they were allowed to pillage other teams rosters, and get to have 3(!) foreign born players on their roster this year. They also stole our cleanup hitter, Lee Ho-jun, who signed with them through free agency. Even with these advantages, this team will probably struggle this year as most of their players are the other teams scraps. Their baseball stadium is an old renovated one they will temporarily use until a new one is built. The new stadium’s location is a hot local political issue but the debate isn’t that interesting.

 

Playoff Structure:

The last notable thing I can think of about the KBO is the playoff structure at the end of the regular season. As it currently stand 4 out of 8 9 teams qualify for the playoffs, but not in traditionally bracketed tournament. The structure of the KBO playoff format is as follows:

1st place team gets a bye all the way to the Korean series!

3rd place team and 4th place team play a best of 5 game series, known as the Semi-playoff, for the right to play the 2nd place team.

The winner of the Semi-playoff faces the 2nd place team in another best of 5 series, known as the Playoff.

The winner of the Playoff faces the 1st place team (who are well rested and sorta bored) in the best of 7 Korean Series.

While it isn’t perfect, the playoff system emphasizes the importance of the regular season by giving a distinct advantage to the 1st and 2nd place teams.

Anyways that is the KBO. Now you can impress your friends and co-workers.

Welcome to Munhak Talk!

Excited to finally have an English blogger covering the team.

Welcome the only English SK Wyverns dedicated blog in the world. While that might not be true, I don’t think its much of a stretch!

This site will try to provide a source of information and entertainment for all the English speaking fans of the beloved Incheon SK Wyverns. The goal here is to cater to both the casual baseball fan and those of you who just see baseball as an excuse to spend an evening drinking outside among friends. So in addition to things like player profiles and (slightly inebriated) game analysis, the site will include fan necessities such as expert analysis on stadium food, the best places to sit, guides to singing the songs and probably more. 

Hopefully some of that will appeal to you, or at least be mildly useful.

BASEBALL START! .. err.. playball!