Monday, April 4, 2011

You're killing me Smalls!

On Saturday I went with a bunch of people from work to the season opener for the Incheon baseball team, the SK Wyverns.
I'm... not really a baseball fan at all. Aside from the Olympics and the World Cup (I know, I know I'm one of those people) I just can't follow sports on TV besides random soccer games and gymnastic competitions here and there. So I don't go to professional games either because I don't like being out of the loop and hey, tickets are expensive. I do actually enjoy watching sporting events if I can be there though. I like cheering and doing the wave and being part of it all.

And I'm glad that I went on Saturday because it was really fun. The Wyverns play at Munhak Baseball Stadium which you can get to by taking the subway to Munhak Sports Complex, three stops up from Woninjae where we always get on. The station dumps you right out in front of the stadium and there were a whole bunch of tents set up with people frying food and selling beer and popcorn. There were tables and chairs to stop and chow down and I saw a lot of people chilling here after the game.

Tickets were wicked cheap, only ₩8,000, and with the exception of a few special areas it was general admission. We sat behind center/left field in a section with a lot of other foreigners.
The best thing about going to a game here is that you can pretty much bring in whatever you want. They don't check bags and don't have any rules against bringing in your own food and drinks so there was no need to pay exorbitant prices for snacks. We brought our own soju and beer and there were a couple of fast food places there, Burger King and Popeye's, for grabbing a cheap meal. I saw tons of people bringing in boxes of pizza and there were even areas with picnic tables to make a sit down meal easier.
Pre-game highlights included some fireworks being set off on the field, some weird multi-color smoke and confetti thing, and that big V4 of balloons being released into the sky. There is a special fan section above the home team dugout so most of the activity was going down over there where they had dancers and the mascots doing back flips. I guess I always thought a wyvern was some kind of bird until my kids informed me it's a dragon. So there was a boy mascot dressed in white and a girl mascot in red with costumes consisting of dragon heads and tails. They also had a bunch of school kids come onto the field holding a huge banner. A couple of our CDI kids were part of it though none of the ones I teach.
The Wyverns played against the Nexen Heroes, a team that at one point was called the Hyundai Unicorns. Yeah. The Wyverns have won the league championships for three of the last four years including the 2010 title. For the opener they were just coming off four exhibition game losses to the Heroes. Their starting pitcher for the day was Gary Glover, an American who has played on numerous major league teams.
The crowd was a pretty good size but the stadium definitely wasn't sold out. My co-workers usually can only go to the weekend games  and said that even then there are tons of open seats. My mom is coming to visit at the end of the month and I'm hoping she can make it to a few of the games while I'm at work so she'll have to let us know what a weeknight crowd is like. 
I knew that the Wyverns had a couple of American players but what I didn't know was that apparently the league puts a cap on how many foreign players are allowed per team and two is the limit. The Nexen Heroes also have two Americans, including Cory Aldridge who was conveniently playing left-field right in front of our seats. Naturally then, all the foreigners in our area were giving him a hard time though it was really tame and in good humor. He looked back a few times and kind of glared but later we could tell he was enjoying it. A couple times we waved to him and he waved back and we cheered when he picked up a plastic bag that had blown onto the field.
The game itself wasn't that exciting. Most of the outs were easy plays to first or pop flies and this was the scoreboard when the bottom of the 7th started:
It finally did pick up then though when the Wyverns scored two runs.
The final score was the Wyverns two, the Heroes zip. I wish I had taken some video of the fan songs which were pretty entertaining so if I make another game I'll be doing that.

I don't have too much information about the Korean Baseball Organization but if you have an interest I recommend checking out the blog True Stories of Korean Baseball which seems to be updated pretty frequently and with recent developments.

Trivia of the Day: The Korean Jindo Dog (진돗개) is a breed of hunting dog known to have originated on Jindo Island in South Korea. Brought to the US with Korean immigrants, it is celebrated in its native land for its fierce loyalty and brave nature. Jindos serve as excellent watchdogs, able to distinguish family from foe, friends from strangers. The Korean Army is known to use Jindos as guard dogs at major bases. Because Jindos rarely bark aggressively, especially in familiar environments, an owner may lend special credence to the warning of his/her pet. In 1962, the Government of South Korea designated the Jindo as the 53rd "Natural Treasure" and passed the Jindo Preservation Ordinance. Because of the special status of the Jindo, it is very difficult to export purebred Jindo outside of Korea. Jindos marched in the opening ceremonies of the 1988 Summer Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea.

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