Korean Baseball in a Nutshell.

Reader and commenter David asks:

I do not know much about Korean baseball. Do you follow kbl and if you do can you explain how it is. What i mean is do they have divisions, dh rule etc.

So I figure that now is as good as any to provide my knowledge of Korean baseball. Here is Korean baseball in a nutshell.

My humor is limitless! Photoshop skills on the other hand...

Haha, just kidding. I’ll try to answer the questions to the best of my ability.

Do I follow the KBL? No, I don’t, but that’s the Korean Basketball League. The Baseball League is governed by the KBO, the Korean Baseball Organization. It is not synonymous with MLB in the states or NPB in Japan, as the KBO also governs lower leagues that are not at the top level. The official name of the top level league is 한국 프로 야구 (Korea Pro Baseball).

There are 8 teams in the league, and they have been around for 30 years. There aren’t any divisions. All teams observe the DH rule.

In the all star game, they usually divide the teams into East and West teams, but on occasion, they’ve also divided it in to South and Central.

Why Central?
North would mean North Korea, and the northern part of South Korea is the center of the Korean peninsula. By dividing the all star game this way, the KBO is making a political statement.

Other differences include different rules. In American baseball, we list balls before strikes. In Korean baseball this is the opposite. (For example, a 3-2 pitch means a pitch made while there are 3 balls and 2 strikes. This one in Korean notation would be 2-3)

Games also can end in a tie after 13(?) innings.

That sounds a lot like Japanese baseball!
And it is. As much as some Americans would like to say that they spread baseball to Korea, that’s not entirely true. They spread baseball to Japan, without a doubt, but it was the Japanese who spread it to Korea. How exactly this was done is not clear to me. Certainly the origin of the pro league is well documented, and it’s also clear that it was built to resemble the Japanese leagues. (With corporations in the name of the teams rather than the cities in which they play.) I suspect that the Japanese colonial period had baseball tournaments for Korean high schools, but I’ve never been able to mobilize myself to study this kind of thing. I’ve submitted a question to the Ask a Korean blog about this, but he’s not gotten around to answering it.

One truly unique thing about Korean baseball is that each team has cheerleaders.

Actually, I think I may have written about this as Seoul Searcher.. let me check.

Oh no, I was actually writing about how I thought it might be a good idea to combine the Korean and Japanese leagues.

Anyway if there are more questions, I’ll be happy to answer, but I’m not so into Korean baseball as I am into MLB, for obvious reasons.


6 Responses to “Korean Baseball in a Nutshell.”

  1. how would rate the overall quality. is it something between our major and triple a or less?

    • That’s really hard to say. I think it goes something like this.

      1. American League (by virtue of having so much money and DH)
      2. National League
      3. Central League (Japan… the league that they care about)
      4. Pacific League (Japan)
      5. AAA
      6. Korean Pro Baseball (but not behind AAA by much.)
      7. Cuba, DR, Mexico (only because the best of those country’s players are in MLB)
      8. Taiwan

      That’s not to say that Korean teams would never be able to beat Major League teams, as it has happened on occasion. (Nexen heroes, the worst team in Korea actually beat the U.S. national team recently).

      Baseball is a game where the best team does not always win. In a 162 game season in MLB, you can expect that each team will win at least 60 games and lose at least 60 games. It’s what they do with the other 42 that makes champions or doormats.

  2. that doesn’t sound so bad. so do you follow and other league other than mlb.

  3. You said these teams had been around for 30 years. I recall seeing Korean baseball on TV in the ’70’s with the most popular team being the one sponsored by OB 맥주.

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