“I thought I should have gotten over it”
In the midst of a fierce mid-table battle, Kang Myung-ho made a strong appeal to umpire Ham Kiwoong during the 10th game of the season between the Lotte Giants and the Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League 2023 at Sajik Stadium in Busan on April 2.
The situation was this. In the top of the seventh inning with the bases loaded and NC trailing 3-6, leadoff hitter Kwon Hee-dong battled Lotte’s Koo Seung-min to a full 3B-2S count. However, Koo’s six-pitch forkball was very far outside the strike zone for the right-handed hitter, and umpire Ham Kiwoong called it a strike, forcing Kwon to retire.토토사이트
It’s clear from the slow picture that Koo’s sixth pitch was a very difficult pitch to call a strike or a ball. However, as it was a forkball with a strong vertical movement rather than a sideways changeup, Kang decided that Koo Seung-min’s six-pitch was a ball and rushed out of the dugout to make a strong appeal to umpire Ham Kiwoong. Of course, the call was not overturned, but there was a reason for the unusual appeal.
“Normally, I try to refrain from protesting strike-balls,” said Kang Myung-hwa before the Sasak Lotte game on the 3rd. But yesterday (Feb. 2), it was a matter of whether or not that one ball would lead to our center fielder. If the leadoff hitter came through, we were three runs away from being able to keep up,” he said, explaining the reasoning behind the appeal, “That one call changed the momentum in an instant, and I thought it was something that needed to be addressed.”
Of course, NC was helped by the umpire Ham Ki Woong’s strike zone call the day before (Feb. 2). In the fourth inning, Do Tae-hoon’s three-pitch slider from Lotte starter Charlie Barnes passed right through the strike zone, but umpire Ham Kiwoong ruled it a ball. Do Tae-hoon, who should have struck out, was allowed to continue his offense and NC rallied in the inning. Regardless of the situation, it was clear that the strike zone was inconsistent.
“I’m sure the umpires will say this, but Kim Sung-wook’s pitches were honestly retaliation for the previous protest, so I was disappointed. Of course, we see about 300 pitches, and we can’t see them all accurately. But I don’t think the flow of the game should be changed by a single ball,” he said, adding, “I think we should actively appeal to the robot umpire.” He laughed bitterly.
Indeed, in the top of the eighth inning, Kim Sung-wook was hit by a five-pitch 142-kilometer fastball from Lotte’s Choi Joon-yong, a pitch that was even more obviously a ball than Kwon Hee-dong’s strikeout. However, umpire Ham Ki Woong ruled it a strike, and NC was unable to overturn the three-run deficit until the final inning.
In recent years, the KBO has seen a lot of protests from players as well as managers regarding umpires’ decisions. Friction with umpires has been common in recent years. The fierce competition for the top spot is one of the reasons, but it cannot be ruled out that the ‘distrust’ of referees has increased, such as incorrect calls despite video review, or referees applying the rules incorrectly. With the advancement of science, there are so many ways to point out wrong decisions by referees.
Last week, manager Larry Sutton was ejected from the Sajik Lotte-Keum Heroes game after protesting a strike zone call, “veteran” Lee Yong-kyu was ejected from the same game after clashing with the umpire over whether or not to call a check swing, and most recently, SSG Landers manager Kim Won-hyung was ejected from the game against KT Wiz the previous day (Feb. 2) after strongly protesting a check swing call.
On the 3rd, the KBO announced, “Coach Kim Won-hyung was ejected for protesting harshly by using foul language against the umpire. Even after being ejected, he continued to engage in inappropriate behavior, such as fiercely protesting the umpire and expressing strong dissatisfaction in the dugout,” and officially announced, “We have issued a warning to Kim Won-hyung in accordance with Article 1 of the League’s Penalty Regulations.”
“I don’t have in-depth conversations with managers about the strike zone,” Kang said, adding, “We have to recognize that balls and strikes are human. However, a single ball can change the course of a game, and I think we have to be sensitive when we are fighting for the top spot,” he said.