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 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
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.
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 …
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:
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.
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.