Park Se-woong, a renowned Lotte player, has not achieved 10 wins for the third consecutive year.
The Lotte Giants fell out of the top-five race early on. But there was still time to play. Acting manager Lee Jong-woon urged his players to “give it our all for the fans.” They did.
But the players did the opposite. The final three-game road trip against the Hanwha Eagles remained, but the two foreign starters Barnes-Wilkerson and “homegrown ace” Park Se-woong, the core of the team, called it quits.
There were several reasons. The foreign pitchers were sick all over the place. Foreign players are literally “mercenaries. Their pitching is strictly business. The team had already failed to make the postseason, so motivation would be low. It’s not easy to emphasize and make them understand that “team first”. That’s why teams use options to motivate foreign players.
Speaking of foreign players, I have a question for Park Se-woong: why doesn’t he try to win 10 games? Park returned from the Hangzhou Asian Games with a gold medal. He happily resolved the “military service issue” that had been hanging over him for years. He pitched the final home game against the Doosan Bears on Nov. 11, pitching six innings of three-run ball to earn the win.
Despite hinting that the home finale would be his last, Park increased his season win total to nine with the victory. One win away from 10. With four days off, Park could have pitched the final game against Hanwha on the 16th. However, Lotte was without a starter and sent Shim Jae-min to the mound.
Ten wins for the third year in a row. It’s a huge honor for a pitcher. Nine wins and 10 wins are the difference between heaven and earth. The title of “10-win pitcher” carries a lot of weight. And when you have three consecutive 10-win seasons, the five- and 10-year marks follow. Park Se-woong, who has resolved his military issues and signed a long-term contract, is a player who can continue the record. He’s also the only Lotte pitcher with double-digit wins this season. If Park could get to 10 wins, it would be a final ego boost.
But Park made a sober decision. He was tired from the Asian Games. As mentioned above, there’s no point in pushing yourself when the team’s performance doesn’t mean much anyway. Also, with the foreign players in the rotation, 바카라사이트 Park didn’t have to prepare, and if the foreign pitchers suddenly decided not to pitch, it would have been difficult for Park to rush into the game. And pitching doesn’t guarantee 10 wins. If Hanwha’s hitters hit well, it could be an uphill battle.
Still, from the outside looking in, it’s hard to see why they wouldn’t even try for 10 wins. If Park Se-woong wanted to pitch his last game, there would be no stopping him. Lotte signed Park to a five-year, $9 billion non-free agent contract before the season, and it would have been nice to see the ace pitcher put his 10 wins on the line and give fans hope in his final outing of the season.
Yang Hyun-jong, the KIA Tigers’ “big pitcher,” overlaps. Yang Hyeon-jong hasn’t been able to defy the passage of time, failing to win 10 games for the ninth year in a row. The team also failed to qualify for the fall baseball season. Still, he’s determined to protect his and his team’s last shreds of pride, and he’s committed to a record that few people care about: pitching 170 innings for nine straight years. He’s likely to start the season finale against the NC Dinos on Sunday.
Our society is facing an issue with the different values of young people represented by the “MZ generation”. Unlike previous generations, they are more individualistic. Baseball is no exception. Recently, on-field coaches and front offices have been saying that “the days of being able to force players to put team first, sacrifice, etc.” are over. For example, it’s not uncommon for a player to pull out of a game because they’re sick if they’re facing a weak opponent. Managers and coaches are left scratching their heads because they can’t even question whether the player is really sick.
Putting the team first is not always the right answer. A baseball player is a sole proprietor. You have to take care of yourself and your own interests. If you overdo it, if you’re too nice, if you lose money, no one will make it up to you.
Still, sports are cool when they have romance. The romance of a 10-win pitcher, the romance of baseball. You can’t help but feel that they’re disappearing. I can’t help but feel that they’re disappearing, even if that romance seems like an ignorant thing to say in today’s thoroughly scientized and segmented game.