The 2023 season, which ended with the unification of the LG Twins. This year, a great history has been made. The joy that cheered everyone and the regret that caused sighs are mixed. Sports Chosun summarized the big events that took place in the KBO League this year.
①Biwon’s V3, LG Unification for the First Time in 29 Years
The 2023 season of the LG Twins’ “unification of heaven and earth” is an indispensable keyword. LG, which has been considered a favorite every year but shed tears repeatedly since the 1994 V2 race, ended this season’s pennant race with the No. 1 ranking, and won the Korean Series by defeating the KT Wiz with four wins and one loss. Rolex watches and awamoriju, which failed to see light even during the two changes in power, were finally dusted off and unveiled with joy of victory.헤라카지노
The era of 8 million spectators, which had been far away since the end of 2018, has opened again. Expectations have risen for the return of 8 million spectators, with the first month of the season reaching 1 million spectators on April 26 and the second month reaching 2 million spectators on May 20. While the number of spectators exceeded 4 million before the end of the first half, the era of 8 million spectators has entered the era of 8 million spectators once again amid fierce competition in the second half. The total number of spectators for this season is 8,103,326, the third highest in Korean history.
Hanwha Eagles’ Moon Dong-ju became the first Korean pitcher to throw a 160-kilometer ball, marking a new era in the history of Korean baseball. Moon, who started the game against KIA in Gwangju on April 12, threw a 160.1 kilometer-per-hour ball in his third pitch against Park Chan-ho in the bottom of the first inning. The previous record was 158.7 kilometers thrown by Lotte Giants’ Choi Dae-sung against Hanwha’s Jang Sung-ho on September 7, 2012.
More “men of record” were created this season. Oh Seung-hwan of the Samsung Lions reached the 500th save mark on June 6. Kia Tigers’ Choi Hyung-woo broke the KBO record for most RBIs and became the first to reach the 1,500-run mark in a game against Hanwha in Daejeon on June 20. KIA Yang Hyeon-jong recorded 170 innings for the first time in nine consecutive seasons in the KBO on October 17. Jung Woo-ram of the Hanwha Eagles played in 1,000 games for the first time in the KBO history on October 2.
Poor performance in international competitions remains regrettable. The WBC National Team, led by Lee Kang-chul, bowed its head due to elimination in the first round. The WBC National Team, which consisted of the best players in the KBO League, lost its first round match against Australia and then suffered a crushing defeat in the second round against Japan. They added two more wins in the ensuing match, but ended up losing to Australia and Japan, forcing them to board a plane back home without even making it to the second round.
Ryu Joong-il’s gold run was a comfort to relieve his pain at the WBC. He got off to a shaky start when he was caught by Taiwan in the first preliminary match of the Hangzhou Asian Games, where players under the age of 24, but eventually won the gold medal as he continued his winning streak. Notably, he garnered applause as he displayed a perfect revenge match against Taiwan in the final. It was a performance that raised hope for a generational change of the national baseball team.
This season, the KBO League had to look up at the sky a lot. Due to climate change, rain has become more frequent, followed by games that were postponed due to rain. Although the Asian Games had pennant races without interruption of the league, autumn baseball’s schedule was postponed one day after another due to rain. Eventually, the Korean Series was held in November, and the “Winter Baseball” became a reality. However, it was not enough to discourage fans. The Korean Series was sold out in all games, and LG’s V3 marked the end of the series.
Salary caps have been implemented for the first time since 2023. Excluding foreign and rookie players, the salary cap for each club was estimated by summing up the annual salary of the top 40 players. According to the KBO, salary cap for each club amounted to 11.4 billion won (110.4 million dollars), and this salary cap will be applied through 2025. It is predicted that the implementation of salary cap will allow each club to have transparent competition through sound management. However, there are also concerns that salary cap will have a significant negative impact in terms of supply and demand of players and direction of management in the future.
Clubs and fans had to suffer from the incident again this year. Seo Joon-won caused the unprecedented criminal case of sexual exploitation against minors, and Jang Jung-seok resigned after it was belatedly found that he demanded money from Park Dong-won, who was about to become an FA. The eye-catching incidents such as illegal gambling by Lee Chun-woong and the assault by Lee Won-joon caused the baseball community to sigh.
The second draft, which was re-imposed for the first time in four years since 2020. There was a reversal drama in which the expression “the best ever” was not awkward. Infielder Choi Joo-hwan, who signed a contract with SSG as an FA, was selected by Kiwoom Heroes, and “Incheon Franchise” Kim Kang-min was selected as a fourth-round pick to transfer to Hanwha. In addition, veteran Woo Kyu-min was traded from Samsung to KT and then to Samsung, and Oh Sun-jin, who signed a contract with his former team Hanwha, wore a Lotte uniform as the second draft.