Six days earlier I’d watched Samsung Lions losing away to Doosan Bears to fall 2-1 behind in their best-of-five games play-off. They had managed to win the two remaining matches though for a 3-2 overall win that had taken them into the Korean Series where regular season table-toppers SK Wyverns were waiting for them.
It was best-of-seven this time and SK were already one game in front after the previous evenings contest in the same stadium. The way it works is that the first two matches are played at SK’s Munhak stadium, with the next two at Samsung’s place in Daegu. If games five, six and seven are required then they are scheduled for the Jamsil stadium in Seoul.
I’d had a few beers straight after work the night before with some of the lads out of the office and had watched a bit of the first game on the telly in the bar. To be honest, I can’t remember the score, just that SK Wyverns won and I even had to confirm that the next day. Beer sometimes has that effect on me. Mind you, I wasn’t as bad as earlier in the week when three of us had gone on from the same bar to a karaoke place fifty yards down the street. This was a lot posher than the one I’d been to in the summer, not surprisingly as it was all going onto someones corporate card.
We’d already had a few pints of Cass and so it was time to move on to the whisky, which they sell you by the bottle. Judging from the signs I’ve seen outside similar places it probably cost about a hundred and fifty quid. We also had a few bottles of beer on the table and a large plate of chopped fruit. I was smoking Havana cigars, so the fruit wasn’t really of much interest to me. We warmed up with a few Beatles songs, and progressed to stuff like Anarchy in the UK, which on reflection probably isn’t the most appropriate selection for three middle-aged blokes straight from work in the business district to be trotting out before putting the bill on expenses.
After about half an hour, we were joined by three young women, employees of the establishment. I was under the impression that most of the girls who work in the karaoke clubs that cater for business men with corporate cards must suffer from the heat a bit as I’m told that they usually remove their blouses after a song or two.
Our hosts must have been feeling the cold that night as their clothes stayed on and they did no more than pick at the fruit and frown at my cigar smoke. An hour later after singing the odd ballad and topping up our glasses they cleared off, probably to find a room where the heating was turned up a bit more. We’d moved on to Neil Young by that point and sang for another half hour or so until the whisky was finished and we cleared off ourselves.
I’ve digressed a bit there. Intentionally as it happens as I’ve noticed that these baseball reports are tending to follow a bit of a formula. I always seem to tell you the price of the tickets, what the fans were like and the score. Sometimes, if I can find it out somewhere else on the internet I might try and give the impression of knowing whats going on by including the name of some bloke who scored a home run. I wouldn’t recognise any of them in real life though even if they were dressed in their kit and hitting baseballs around my kitchen.
So, after the distraction of the karaoke it’s back to the usual formula. My ticket cost me thirty thousand won. It had a face value of fifteen thousand won so that was pretty good I thought. One of the best things about the Munhak stadium is that with the exception of the small posh area behind the plate you can sit anywhere you like. I got myself some fried pork dumplings (what I have to eat and drink is the other thing I always tell you) and took a seat in the main stand, just about at third base.
By the time that game started at 2pm the place wasn’t quite full, but it didn’t take much longer afterwards for it to be standing room only. Disappointingly Samsung hadn’t brought their inflatable lions this time. Although as I was sat with their fans I don’t suppose I’d have been too impressed had a twenty-foot tall big cat suddenly appeared in front of me, obscuring my view.
As far as the scoring went, Samsung went into a one run lead in the second innings, causing the Wyverns starting pitcher to be withdrawn embarrassingly early. It didn’t take long for the home team to turn things around though and a two run homer from Choi Jeong put them ahead. The same fella scored another home run in the sixth innings to extend their lead before someone else added a run in the eighth to make it 4-1.
And the best news of the day? I finally managed to get my hands on a sparkler courtesy of the Wyverns fans. I’d moved around to the outfield for a change of scenery and some kid who was obviously unaware of my firework history kindly passed one to me as they were handing them out for their customary display.
It’s possible that this might be the last baseball game that I’ll see this season as SK Wyverns may very well tie up the series 4-0 in Daegu and make the final games at Jamsil unnecessary. I hope not as I’d like to see at least one more before it all finishes for the winter.
If you were wondering about Lee Dong Gook, I haven’t forgotten about him. He scored his fourteenth goal of the season in Jeonbuk’s 1-1 draw at home to league leaders Jeju United. The point kept Jeonbuk in fifth place and firmly on course for the play-offs, eight points ahead of seventh placed Suwon Bluewings and with only four games left.
There are no league games next weekend as it’s the Korean FA Cup Final and I’ll be making my way down to Busan to watch Busan l’Park take on Suwon. In addition to picking up the trophy, the winner qualifies for the fourth Champions League spot. So, another visit to the fish market beckons, a bonfire on the beach and hopefully some fireworks both on and off the pitch.