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A line from the song ‘A Heart for One Person’ by Lee Oh Gong-gam (Lee Seung-hwan, Oh Tae-ho). This is NC’s preview of Game 5’s selection, which reminds me of “Why are sad premonitions never wrong?”
In the 4th game of the 2023 KBO League Playoffs (3 wins out of 5) held at Changwon NC Park on the 3rd, NC coach Kang In-kwon, who lost 2-11 to KT and suffered 2 consecutive losses after 2 consecutive wins, said something meaningful in an interview after the game. did. When asked by reporters if Eric Peddy, who came out as the starter in Game 1 and gave up 1 run with 12 strikeouts in 6 innings, giving the team victory, will be the starter in Game 5, he said, “I think we need to think about it because Peddy’s condition is not 100% recovered. Shin Min-hyun, who was the starter in the second game, is not bad, so I will think about it and make a decision tomorrow.” Officially, there was a rest day after Game 4, so there was some speculation that it was a 'smoke screen' because the notice of starting pitcher was not mandatory, but it was revealed that it was Manager Kang's actual concern as the starter for Game 5 was officially announced as Shin Min-hyuk, not Peddy.
The only reliable corner of NC, which lost two in a row after two consecutive wins and handed over the momentum to KT, was Pedi. This is because Peddy, who swallowed up the majority of wins (20 wins), ERA (2.00), and strikeouts (209) in the regular league this season, is the strongest starting pitcher in the KBO league beyond NC. Since the first game was held on the 30th of last month, there was enough time to rest until the fifth game on the 5th, but Peddy had to skip the starting pitch again, leaving Coach Kang's vague reply that he had not recovered to 100% condition.
When foreign players were first introduced into professional sports, the word 'mercenary' was often used. Of course, it is still used, but the word mercenary contains negative connotations such as 'player brought in for money', so there was a movement to officially replace it with the word foreign player.
It is impossible to force an athlete, whose body is an asset, to risk injury and devote himself to the team. Moreover, it is difficult to ask foreign players to devote themselves even more. However, in professional sports, including professional baseball, there have been many cases where opinions were divided about teams and contracts, or foreign players who had the opportunity to advance to higher leagues blatantly sabotaged. Therefore, there are still many fans who do not hesitate to call foreign players mercenaries in professional sports, saying that they are closer to the concept of 'mercenaries' than 'family members'.
Whether it's because Coach Kang didn't raise Peddy even though he said he was fine, or whether Peddy refused to pitch, in any case, if NC loses its best starting pitcher, it won't be able to use it in the 'elimination game' that ends this season (even if it's a short-lived bullpen). LG , who may be able to come up to play an inning, but
who will be watching the bloody battle between KT and NC in the Korean Series leading up to Game 5, also suffered from a foreign player who was close to the concept of a 'mercenary'. Adam Plutko, who played an ace role in the first half of the season by recording 11 wins, 3 losses, and an ERA of 2.41 in 21 games this season, was expected to return just before the end of the regular season after missing the team due to injury, but eventually left the team. Korean medical institutions said that Plutko's physical condition was fine, but Plutko was unsure of his physical condition, trusting more the opinions of medical staff in his home country of the United States. Last year, at the end of the season, he left due to an injury and failed to play in the playoffs when he returned, so coach Yeom Kyung-yeop made a plan to have Plutko pitch in the last 2-3 games of the regular season and use him in the Korean Series, but he did not play in the playoffs. Rutko's hesitation to pitch became longer. Eventually, LG ran out of patience and boldly dismissed Plutko, and Director Yeom also made the Korean Series without Plutko.
Watching Peddie and Plutco, I feel once again that KT's William Cuevas' fighting spirit and dedication are great and valuable. Domestic baseball fans often call Cuevas ‘Cu Dong-won.’ It is a nickname named after the late coach Choi Dong-won, who was responsible for all four wins alone as Lotte's ace in the 1984 Korean Series. Cuevas appeared in the 'tie break' against Samsung in 2021 to determine first place in the regular league. After throwing 108 pitches in the previous game, he came out after two days of rest and threw 99 pitches in 7 innings, allowing 1 hit and no runs, giving KT a direct ticket to the Korean Series by winning the regular league. And KT was able to win the Korean Series and achieve its first overall championship since its founding.
Game 4 of this playoff was also similar to two years ago. Cuevas, who started Game 1 and threw 75 pitches and gave up 7 runs (4 earned) in 3 innings, accepted Manager Lee Kang-cheol's request to prepare to start Game 4 immediately after the game. And in Game 4, which came after three days of rest, he avenged the loss in Game 1 with a perfect pitch of 6 innings, allowing 1 hit and no runs, and at the same time gave the team the opportunity to do a 'reverse sweep' in Game 5. Cuevas is a foreign player who perfectly fits the concept of a ‘family member’ rather than a ‘mercenary.’
Cuevas, who showed his utmost dedication, smiled shyly in an interview with the Distinguished Player after the 4th game. He said, “Unlike the first game, today’s game was very fun. “The fielders’ defense and scoring support were excellent,” he said. “After hearing the request to prepare for Game 4 after finishing Game 1, I tried to quickly forget the bad memories, which had a positive effect on my good pitching today. “During the three days off, I worked with the power analysis team to anal
yze how NC hitters responded to my pitches,” he said. When asked about the secret to throwing well after a short break during the tie break two years ago and this fourth game, Cuevas said, “I don’t know,” smiled, and then added, “I think I should say thank you to God for helping me before I go to bed tonight. However, he gave a witty reply, saying, “I want to get enough rest before I pitch the next game.”
Saturday, November 4, 2023