There’s a new KBO team this season, NC Dinos. So far I hadn’t seen them play a home game but as I’m now finished with work in Korea, Jen and I took a Tuesday afternoon KTX down to Masan to put that right. We changed at Dongdaegu although that might not actually have been necessary as Jen spotted later that there are direct trains between Seoul and Masan. Perhaps we just got off one direct service and then caught the next direct train twenty minutes later.
Whatever, we got to Masan around four thirty, checked into the Prima Hotel next to the station and walked the half hour or so route to the baseball stadium.
The Dinos were playing Hanwha Eagles in an eighth v ninth place clash. As there are only nine teams in the league the fixtures between these two teams will go a long way in determining Korea’s crappiest baseball team. At the moment it’s Hanwha who hold that somewhat dubious privilege.
We paid eight thousand won for outfield tickets and took our seats amongst the other four thousand or so spectators. NC Dinos have been in a bit of trouble with the KBO as apparently one of the conditions stipulated prior to them joining the league was that they would build a new bigger stadium. The thing is though, their current place is pretty smart and if you are only filling a quarter of your seats why do you need something even larger?
Jen had her bag searched on the way in for ‘alcohol or sharp objects’. Oddly they didn’t bother with mine despite me having a couple of litres of wine brazenly on show in the outer pockets. When we got inside the security fellas were strictly enforcing the rule that the only alcohol you could drink was the beer sold at the concession stands. Now whilst this would seem perfectly normal in the UK, it seems an outrageous restriction in Korea where everybody routinely turns up at sporting events with as much booze as they like.
The security men would carefully watch from a distance and on spotting anything suspicious would swoop like hawks and confiscate whatever they found.
The starting pitchers were a fella called Shirek for the Dinos and someone called Eveland for Hanwha. I’d look them up and tell you which MLB team they made two pre-season appearances for in 2006 but I can’t be arsed. I’m not in Korea for much longer and so I doubt I’ll ever see or hear about either of them again.
A big hit in th second innings was enough to get a lad home from second base for Hanwha. The same thing happened on the next ball to put them two runs up. NC pulled one back in their second innings with more of the same, one bounce into the fence and the bloke on second getting home.
At that stage I’d already worked my way through a fair bit of the two litres of wine and so I stopped paying quite as much attention to the score. It started to get quite cold as well, although it seems like its been that way at the baseball all season. Gates are down a third on this time last year and I can‘t help thinking that it’s because it has been so bloody cold. Baseball’s a game for short sleeved shirts not coats and jumpers.
By the time we got to the sixth one of the teams was 4-3 up. Two and a half hours of drinking in the cold was enough for us though and we headed off for some warmth and some fresh supplies. I didn’t get around to checking the next day to see who won despite the importance of the game in the battle for eighth place. The information is out there though if you care.
And that I think is it for me and Korean baseball for the time being. I’d never seen a game before I came to Korea but quickly came to appreciate the merits of sitting in the outfield in the late evening sunshine with a drink in my hand. I’ve even got a fair grasp of the rules although I doubt I’ll ever appreciate the nuances of the game in that way that someone brought up playing it would.
I don’t mind though, I’ve had a great time unwinding at Jamsil on an evening after work and travelling the country to watch games in more than twenty different stadiums. If I do come back to Korea then I’ll defintely try to get around a few more.