Its Asian Games, A Introducing sports Baseball and Softball
Korean baseball challenges for 4th straight victory
due to self-imposed age and professional seniority restrictions ‘Red light’
‘Only 4th place three times’ Korean softball aims for first ever medal together with baseball in Hangzhou
Baseball became an official sport at the 12th Asian Summer Games held in Hiroshima, Japan in 1994.
Unlike the Olympics
Where it is included or removed as an official sport depending on the choice of the host country,
baseball was held seven times in a row at the Asian Games,
including the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Games.
Thanks to Korea and Japan, which have a high status on the Asian continent,
strongly wishing for the preservation of baseball,
baseball has solidified its position as an official sport
even when the Asian Games are held in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
Japan won the inaugural championship in the past seven tournaments,
Taiwan was the toast of the 2006 Doha Tournament in Qatar,
which was remembered as the ‘Doha Disaster’ by Korean fans.
Among the three dragons of Asian baseball, two countries have reached the top level once,
Korea has won the championship five times in Bangkok in 1998,
Busan in 2002, Guangzhou in 2010, Incheon in 2014, and Jakarta and Palembang in 2018.
The 1998 Bangkok Asian Games was the first competition in which the Korean baseball ‘Dream Team’,
encompassing both professional and amateur players, was formed.
Taiwan finished second three times after being blocked by Korea,
Japan lost to Korea in the finals of the Bangkok and Jakarta/Palembang competitions.
Korean National Baseball Team
The Korean national baseball team, led by coach Ryu Joong-il,
is aiming for its fourth consecutive victory and sixth gold medal in total at the Hangzhou Asian Games.
However, as they were unable to select the best player for each position,
they faced the biggest challenge in achieving their goal.
Korean baseball suffered a major setback after achieving its third consecutive Asian Games
title by winning the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Tournament.
When selecting national team players, it was embroiled in controversy over some players’
avoidance of military service and the lack of fairness
providing special military service benefits to certain players.
Former national team coach Sun Dong-yeol, who led the team to the championship,
unusually appeared as a witness for the National Assembly audit and experienced humiliation at the questions asked by some members of the National Assembly that were beyond common sense.
Korea Baseball Organization
Meanwhile, former President Un-Chan Jeong of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO),
who has the responsibility of operating and supporting the national team and actively representing the national team,
worsened the situation by effectively excluding Coach Seon,
saying that he personally did not need a full-time coach system.
In the end, former coach Seon,
who was the first full-time coach of the Korean baseball national team,
returned the baton in November 2018,
saying he could not protect the pride of the players who were not even properly welcomed after winning the gold medal.
Afterwards, the 10 professional baseball teams and the KBO secretariat announced early on that,
in an effort to regain the trust of fans, they would form a national team with only young prospects for the Hangzhou Asian Games
without any consideration of military service exceptions,
that regular league games would proceed as normal during the tournament.
The KBO Strengthening Committee and national team coach Ryu Joong-il
finalized 24 representative entries, including 21 players under the age of 25 or in their fourth year
as a professional player and three wild cards
under the age of 29, and released them in June.
Also, considering that the KBO League is in progress,
the number of starters per team was limited to a maximum of 3 to minimize damage to each team.
Although various restrictions were placed on the composition of the national team
to break away from the swamp of distrust and create a new turning point for Korean baseball,
there is a growing sense of crisis that this measure
may become a boomerang that reaffirms the weak status of Korean baseball.
At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC),
Korean baseball was pushed to the periphery
because it could not keep up with global trends.
In addition, Lee Jeong-hoo (Kiwoom Heroes),
who was expected to play an active role as the national team’s leading hitter in this Asian Games,
had ankle surgery and ended his season early,
leaving him without a reliable focal point in offense and defense.
The level of Japanese professional baseball, the mainstay of the Japanese national team,
is comparable to that of the KBO league, and Taiwan is known to have the best players,
including American professional baseball minor leaguers and domestic professional and professional leagues,
to help Korea challenge for its fourth consecutive title. The red light came on.
Asian Games Baseball
The Hangzhou Asian Games baseball will be held from October 1 to 7
at the Shaoxing Baseball Stadium near Hangzhou, China.
Softball, which became an official sport at the 1990 Beijing Games,
is a competition between China and Japan.
As China lost three times in a row starting from the inaugural competition,
Japan won the gold medal for the fifth time in a row, starting from the 2002 Busan Games.
Korea’s best result is 4th place, achieved three times.
The goal of the Korean softball team at the Hangzhou Asian Games
is to win the first ever medal along with baseball.
Softball will be played from September 26th to October 2nd.