South Korea’s baseball team has rarely done well at international tournaments when it has been held back by Chinese Taipei.
The 2003 Asian Championships in Sapporo, where qualification for the 2004 Athens Olympics was at stake, was the start of a bad run.
South Korea failed to qualify for Athens after losing to Chinese Taipei 4-5 in 10 extra innings.
The 2006 Doha Asian Games were also a disaster in the memory of baseball fans.
In the six-nation tournament, which featured a pool league to determine the winner, Korea lost 2-4 to Chinese Taipei, wiping out the excitement of reaching the World Baseball Classic (WBC) quarterfinals earlier that year.
Bending the knee to Chinese Taipei has been the downfall of Korean baseball. On the other hand, if they beat Taiwan in their first game, they gain confidence and play well.
The organisers of the Asian Games recognise the strange relationship between the two countries and place the two teams at crucial junctures to boost box office.
At the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games and the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, Korean baseball beat Chinese Taipei in the preliminary round and then again in the final to win gold.
The 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games was a rare exception.
On a day like this, South Korea started the Super Round with a 1-2 loss to an unheralded Taiwanese pitcher, and then, thanks to Japan holding off Taiwan, the three teams were tied at two wins apiece, and the rules dictated that South Korea and Japan would meet in the final.
South Korea won its third consecutive Asian Games title by edging out Japan.
Coach Ryu Joong-il and his players were hoping for a “déjà vu” from five years ago after their 0-4 defeat to Chinese Taipei in their second group game of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games at the Shaoxing Baseball and Softball Sports Centre 1 in China on Sunday.
‘One more chance will come,’ was the common sentiment of the players after the defeat, and they would have to beat Japan and China in the Super Round and hope for a miracle that Japan would catch Chinese Taipei.
However, it remains to be seen whether the Korean batting line-up, which is considered the ‘weakest’ in the tournament, will be able to hit the ball off the sophisticated Japanese pitching staff.
Japan, whose trademark is ‘microscopic analysis’, will have studied Korea as hard as Taiwan has studied Korea.
Ryu acknowledged the improvement in Taiwanese baseball, saying, “Their players have studied a lot in the minor leagues, their hitters are not fooled by changeups, and their defence is solid, so they are now a team to watch out for.”
Noh, who batted third, said, “The Taiwanese pitchers’ pitches were fast and powerful, and they had good control, so they didn’t make mistakes.” “That made it harder for the batters,” he said, “because we didn’t prepare well enough.
Taiwanese baseball is slowly making progress as the South Korean national team tries to climb out of third place in Asia, while Japan is strong enough to win its third WBC title this year.
The loss to Chinese Taipei, which came without a single effort from the batting order, was another unfortunate moment that exposed the current state of Korean baseball as a team that is looking backwards and hoping for good fortune instead of moving forward. 안전놀이터