You Can’t Spell “Korea Baseball Organization” Without A Couple Of O’s

Is it just me, or has the quality of baseball players going over to Korea significantly improved this winter?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like the Kia Tigers had discussions with Robinson Cano, but it seems like the names involved are a bit more notable this year… From a baseball card perspective, there will be players in Korea who have been appearing in Topps sets fairly regularly in the past.

It could be that it just seems notable to me because I’ve seen several of the players when they played for the Orioles.

The most notable former Oriole to go to Korea is Luke Scott, who will be playing for the SK Wyverns.
2012 Topps Luke Scott
Luke peaked in 2010 and has been on the downslope since then, but since when does a guy with 9 years of MLB service, a guy who was a Major League regular for several years, go to the KBO?

Most Orioles fans will remember Josh Bell. He was obtained from the Dodgers in the George Sherrill trade, and was supposed to be the Orioles’ Third Baseman of the future, but he never batted better than .214 in the Majors.2012 Topps Josh Bell
Josh Bell will be playing for the LG Twins next year.

Incidentally, LG is the electronics company. Like Japanese baseball, the teams are owned by corporations which promote themselves through the teams.

The final former Oriole in our trilogy is Félix Pie, will be playing for the Hanwha Eagles…
2011 Topps Felix Pie
Pie was a former top Cubs prospect and even though he’s spent much of the last two seasons in the minors, he had been on the Pirates 40-man roster and asked for his release so he could play in Korea.  I think that’s what started catching my attention – the fact that a couple of the guys going there weren’t castoffs, but guys who were on the 40-man.

The Hanwha Eagles have a pretty cool logo;  I’d wear a cap with this on it:

Hanwha Eagles Logo

It’s not just former Orioles going over to Korea; Jorge Cantu, who has a couple of 100 RBI seasons on his resume, is going to the Doosan Bears.

2011 Topps Update Jorge Cantu

By the way, over on MLBTradeRumors.com there was an interesting interview with C.J. Nitkowski, who’s pitched in the Majors as well as Japan and Korea.  You can link to it here.


CRY – 1, STK – 0

While we’re on the subject of non-North American leagues, my new favorite game on the weekend is to turn on the English Premier League match and try to figure out the two teams just from the three-letter abbreviation use for the score at the top of the screen.

While I enjoy watching soccer, I’m far from a fan.  Most of my knowledge of the EPL comes from British TV, music and other bits of popular culture. I know the “biggies” like Manchester United and Arsenal, but my expertise goes rapidly downhill from there.

This morning’s score threw me a bit. I guessed that “STK” meant Stoke City, and I turned out to be right… But “CRY”? What the heck is “CRY”?

The match was in the 85th minute, so I waited it out to find that the final score showed Stoke City losing to…

…drum roll please…

Crystal Palace. D’OH! I should’ve gotten that.

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5 thoughts on “You Can’t Spell “Korea Baseball Organization” Without A Couple Of O’s

  1. The sad thing about the KBO is there is just an absolute lack of cards. Japan’s got BBM and Calbee, and CPBL in Taiwan issues their own sets too. But sets from Korea are few and far between. I’m hoping to return to Korea in May and might get a chance to search for cards again – my original self-found leads all turned up fairly dry on the card front (though I found some phone cards and plenty of stamps). And since I’ll be there during the season, I might be able to find something at the stadium.

    Who knows, maybe with more MLB players making their way to the peninsula, there will be more interest in sets.

  2. I’ve been becoming a Premier League fan the past few seasons, and really got into it during the last (partial) hockey lockout. I know the pace is drastically different than the sports that are more popular here in the States, but there’s something nice about having the games on in the background on a Saturday or Sunday morning…

    • I wouldn’t rule out my following the Premier League in the future; I’ll admit that I never really gave it a chance. I enjoy watching soccer in person, I’ve just never really watched it on TV.

      …and as for the pace being different: I enjoy watching baseball and curling, so I don’t think soccer would pose much of a problem for me.

  3. As I understand it, the KBO in the past has had both caps on the number of foreign players allowed (no surprise there, the NPB does as well) and on the salaries paid to foreigners. The latter (which not all teams were honoring anyway) apparently has gone away and the number of foreign players allowed has been increased. So you haven’t been imagining it–there definitely has been an increase in both numbers and the quality of former MLB players going to Korea this offseason.

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