Youth and grit.
These were the greatest weapons of the Legion of Heroes, who reached fall baseball for the fifth consecutive year. They weren’t veterans of the league, nor did they have a strong financial backing. They overcame difficulties with passion and competitive spirit, and became a powerhouse team that won the championship. The Heroes have been a force to be reckoned with in the KBO in recent years.안전놀이터
However, this hasn’t been the case lately. Kiwoom, who hadn’t been able to get above the mid-table since the beginning of the season, fell apart sharply in the second half, starting with Lee Jung-hoo’s season-ending injury. They went on a nine-game losing streak that sent them to the bottom of the table. With 36 games left in the regular season, if Kiwoom finishes the season without a rebound, it will be their 13th season since 2011 and second since their inception. It would also end the franchise’s history of participating in fall baseball in all but one season since its inception in 2015.
Signs of a rebound are not easy to find. The return of key hitter Lee Jeong-hoo is unlikely this season. The foreign players who replaced him have been clueless, and the bullpen has been weak. In the midst of all this, the team traded another homegrown starter, Choi Won-tae, to the LG Twins for a first-round pick and a player on March 29. Starting pitchers Ahn Woo-jin and Ariel Furado have been put on the disabled list one after another, and the team is far from rebounding. The general consensus is that the team is in the midst of a so-called “tanking” period, in which the team is giving up on the present in favor of the future.
A common practice for teams that hit the tank button is to continue to give their young prospects playing time and find their strengths and weaknesses. However, rather than boosting confidence and experience, tanking can lead to insecurity and stagnation, which is why the role of veterans is so important.
“When you have a lot of young players on the team, the synergy is great when the atmosphere is good, but on the other hand, when the results don’t come, the fear and hesitation are bound to grow,” says Kiwoom’s Hong Won-ki. “We have on-site coaches, but it’s important for veterans to share their experience and know-how with the younger players so that they don’t repeat their mistakes,” he said. “The recent results have not been highlighted, but Lee Yong-kyu, 38, who took over the captain’s armband from Lee Jung-hoo, has been showing leadership on and off the field and has been guiding the players well.”
Lee returned to the team in time for the start of the second half of the season after being sidelined with a wrist injury on May 10. During his time on the sidelines, Yong-kyu went out of his way to support his juniors, even volunteering to deliver coffee. In August, his days at the plate have become longer and longer without results, but he keeps his eyes on the team, not himself. Kiwoom and Hong Won-ki, who are walking through a thorny path, can only be grateful for his leadership.